Conquering the February Blues – part I

The beginning of another year can be a bit overwhelming and demotivating. The lights only just came down from the roof, while the neighbor seems to have already completed spring cleaning, trained for a marathon, and clearly doesn’t face the same credit card bills given the new car gracing the driveway. There is not a handicap large enough to make up that difference, so why even bother? We know that we should have high expectations for the year ahead, but by now it’s February and life is real and demanding and on occasion really difficult. Resolutions and personal development shrink to make room for other requirements of time and energy. So how do you motivate people who are facing another year of change, continuous improvement, and the always-growing stretch goals?

Last year I was fighting tonsil cancer.  I survived the torture of surgery and 6 weeks of radiation, only to be overwhelmed by the daily challenge of eating enough calories to keep my body healthy sans feeding tube. I would start the day with my treatment and then I would begin to climb “my mountain” as I called it.  The mountain of calories with a summit of 2,500, compounded by the bizarre radiation effect of tasteless food.  Just texture and temperature, no flavor.  How did I find motivation and how can the same principles be applied to propel you and your team through another successful year?

Some simple places to start:

  • Set short term goals and work your tail off to hit them.  Make them realistic and achievable.  You need a partner, friend, coworker or boss who knows your goals and will be ready to celebrate with you when you achieve them, and hold you accountable when you slip.  My wife was my cheerleader, cook, and she would be honest with me on my progress each day.  She had the confetti and air horn ready for my 2,500-calorie summit and was the first one to push me when my determination waned. (My kids would also help her in these tasks.)
  • Look past the obstacles of the day.  Now is the time to start dreaming about the family summer vacation at the lake, the goal of adding a pool to the backyard, or catching a game with a friend.  Make plans that include fun and are beyond the work.  We need to work to live, but we should not live to work.  Find a healthy blend of the two and do your best to separate them from each other.  Notice I did not say “healthy balance.” Balance implies equality, and they are not necessarily season-to-season.
  • Ask yourself a very important question each day. “What do I need to do today to stay motivated and hit my goals?”  Your brain is an expert at solving problems, and will apply its magic to this question lead you to rock your world.  Ask this question one to two times each day.  Do not confuse this question with. “Why am I not motivated and not making my goals?” This might sound like an interchangeable question, but one leads to solutions and an action plan. And the other to excuses. Do not fall into the trap of the latter.

 

To be continued next week.

-Lain Hensley

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Bad Day

Many Odyssey Teams programs culminate in a closing that involves Tipping Points. Participants are instructed to author an original quote to be dispersed to their team over the course of the coming weeks as a vehicle of continued learning from one another. Here at Odyssey, we have the privilege of reading each submission as they are entered into a database. And some of them are too good to not share.

“Millions of people in the world would love the opportunity to experience your bad days.”

This quote originated from an accountant that had just completed a Helping Hands program, in which participants receive a glimpse of what life is like for an amputee living in a developing country. It offers a perspective oft forgotten – that the challenges and hardships that we face pale in comparison to those lived daily by countless around the world. An anxiety laced deadline, an emotionally charged conversation, an unexpectedly poor performance review, an ill-timed empty gas tank are trivial when placed on a scale opposite the poverty, corruption, disease, and conflict faced by so many in our world. At the end of the bad day, we drive a car home, walk into a temperature controlled home, and open a refrigerator stocked with multiple meal options. A few minutes of the news ticker and all of a sudden a dropped account seems fairly trivial and TGIF becomes TGI Have A Job in light of staggering statistics of poverty. Bad days can be exactly that – really bad. But sometimes a littler perspective is the ideal antidote for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

 

 

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The Loop

Despite the overcast morning, groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this past Monday, predicting six more weeks of winter. Here at the Odyssey office, spring blooms are popping up all around, so we may have some doubts about our furry friend. While the marmot’s annual forecasts may be suspect, his celebrated role in American culture is undeniable. And Bill Murray’s 1993 film Groundhog Day only serves to further canonize the strange holiday. In the flick, weather man Phil Connors is begrudgingly sent to cover the Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, only to find himself stuck in an eternal time loop. He awakens each morning to repeat the same day over and over again.

While most of us likely do not plan our spring skiing weekend around the predictions of a large rodent, we can all relate on some level to Phil Connors’ predicament. Our lives can sometimes seem to be as repetitive and suffocating as his time loop. Get up, work out, meeting, deadline, conference call, traffic, eat, sleep. Rinse and repeat.

Here at Odyssey Teams, we participate in the loop alongside you. Our scuffed suitcases are evidence of the many hours spent in airports, taxis, and hotels. The boxes of prosthetic hands donated are the result of thousands of quality checks performed at our office. Retired ropes are proof of the many participants that we have harnessed and belayed as they balance on wires and jump from platforms.

But rarely do we feel the strain of the repetition. For us, the distinguishing characteristic is the people. Each time we deliver a program, we have the incredible opportunity of connecting with new faces. Event planners, participants, ten year-olds receiving bikes, the grandma seated in seat A on the plane. The people we have the privilege of interacting with, learning from, and building up, serve to differentiate one program from the next, and make each day spent on the road more than worth the repetition. We so hope to be the break from the norm for you and your team this year. If you’re finding yourself bogged down by the redundancy, give us a call. We’d love to be the exception to the rule that provides perspective to the loop.

Team building is not the aim!

Effective teamwork is powerful. We have all seen great sports teams and organizations rise above – not because of their individual skills, but their ability to align those skills in a direction that is superior to their opponent. However, effective teamwork does not come from ‘team building.’

In studying the essentials of producing great teams, we have found that great teams do not focus on team building. They focus on individual building — together. There is a difference. A focus on team building usually results in a temporary “feel good,” but lacks the individual accountability necessary for synergistic results. A commitment to individual building — together creates longer, more sustainable results.

What does this mean? It means that the Golden State Warriors and Chelsea F.C. do not do ‘team building’. They practice the skills that are required for them to be successful — together. That is, each person has a motivation to be their best AND to leverage the best from each other. Team building is a by-product of ‘practicing’ on and off the field.

So what do we need to practice? Achieving great results collectively requires each individual to assess critical skills and then practice like mad. Shoot penalty kicks on repeat, tune up your own listening skills, or intensively train self-confidence, trust, and respect. It is about bringing the whole player to the field.

-Bill John

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The Climb

Dust rose from beneath my boots as I stepped from the parking lot onto the rock path that would be my guide for the next five hours. I could already see the glow lights of my fellow climbers stretched far ahead. The voices of the lead climbers and the sounds from the line of students that followed blended into one chorus of laughter and singing. The sound of my own breathing became more difficult as the thin air was already taking its toll on my body’s ability to oxygenate my blood.

I could not have done more to prepare the students for the climb ahead, it was up to them now. It was out of my hands and up to each senior to make the difference for each other. I had my own challenge to overcome and I would need their help if I was going to make it. I trudged ahead leaving the parking lot in the distance and embracing the mystery of the full moon and the night ahead.

Thoughts of my 12-year-old nephew, Cody, began to enter my mind and I was comforted to have his memory as my companion for the long hours ahead. I took one look back at the parking lot which was now one half mile behind me. I looked forward to standing on top of this pile of rocks and feeling close to my God, close to my fellow climbers, and close to Cody’s spirit. I missed him so much, but I would have to go on with only his memory.

In memory of Cody Richardson, my nephew and my friend.

January 15, 1988 to September 23, 2000

-Lain Hensley

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Helping Hands — Build-a-Hand Teambuilding Kits in England

Odyssey Teams, Inc. is excited to announce that we are looking for the right person or organization in England to be our exclusive distributor of the Helping Hands – Build-a-Hand Teambuilding kits in that region. To date, this program has resulted in over 17,000 hands built for people who have lost a limb in developing countries while simultaneously providing a profound experience of team and leadership development to over 1,000 companies in developed countries. The program has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, Fox Business news, and numerous TV/Media publications/outlets. It is making a dramatic difference inside and out of companies around the world.

If you, or someone you know, has an established training/facilitation practice in England that might be interested in leveraging their training/facilitation services through the use of the Helping Hands – Build-a-Hand project, please have them contact Bill John — bill@odysseyteams.com or 530-342-1650 (US). We will be making our selection in April, 2015. For information on the program including press/media/videos, et. al. please go to www.build-a-hand.com, or to our main site www.odysseyteams.com.

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Into the New Year

At the end of the year we tend to look at the twelve months past and pinpoint the highlights. We reflect on a milestone reached, the once in a lifetime vacation, a major purchase, or even heartbreaking tragedy. The short list of momentous occasions becomes the marker for the year. And looking forward, we expectantly search for the next one.

But the vast majority of life happens in the meantime. Significant events occur and their gravities pull on our hearts and lives. But we are formed by the days, months, and hours of the in between. The Tuesday morning headed to work and sitting in traffic. The Thursday evening coming home to a sink of breakfast dishes needing to be washed. Conference calls, deadlines, lunch dates, grocery shopping, and miles logged on a treadmill. Not very flashy or noteworthy, but that’s where life happens. And there is meaning in it all. Those conference calls broker a deal that trickles down to deserving clients. That stress-inducing deadline means a valuable product reaching the hands of customers. Lunch dates establish friendships with colleagues and office mates.

Here at Odyssey Teams Inc. we look on the year past and celebrate some rather notable occasions. But we are also thankful for the day-to-day routine that brought us to where we are now. Looking to the year ahead, we are excited to join you and your teams for the average-Joe Wednesdays. We hope to give the normalcy purpose. To partner with you as we all seek to find the why of our work, the meaning behind the mundane. And perhaps at the end of 2015, you’ll look back and find that an afternoon spent with Odyssey Teams was the momentous occasion that added value to your in between.

Season’s Greetings

From the twinkling lights strung along roof lines to the ornament laden branches of firs propped up in the window, it’s clear that the holiday season is upon us. While major retailers had the jump on holiday spirit – with decorations hung and inventory stocked since before Halloween, the rest of us are now catching up. Packages are dropped off on the front porch and favorite sweets are popped in and out of the oven as we brave lines, battle wrapping paper, hang greens, and gather in friends and family to celebrate.

We hope that your holiday season is marked by joy. We know that the holidays are not always easy, and can serve to highlight the pain and messiness of life. But we hope that wherever you are in life’s journey – whether skipping along higher than the Nutcracker ballerinas or plodding from one day to the next – that this month you experience joy that goes well beyond circumstance. May you find reason to celebrate, even if it takes above average effort to search out.

Here at Odyssey Teams we have abundant reasons for celebration. We are in amazement of all that has occurred in the past year. Changes, improvements and recalibrations for our staff, facility, and programs. Hundreds of bikes and thousands of hands built and given away to those that need them most. Hours spent in trees and on wires high above the ground in our ropes course programs. Miles upon miles logged in planes as we fly across the country and around the world to deliver programs and connect with companies and individuals. We joyfully celebrate lives changed – by a first ever bike, a second hand to carry groceries, or a new perspective on life and work and the relationships found therein. And we look forward with hopeful expectation for what is to be in the year to come.

We have a lot of things planned for this next year, and we sincerely hope that we will have the opportunity to join and assist you in your own odyssey.

3 Tactics to Get Naysayers to Engage in Team Building

When notifying employees of the next team building event, the typical response is, “What? Do they really think I have time for this?”

Cynics come out from everywhere when the email is sent that the next team-building event is mandatory.

The most difficult task in producing a successful team building event or seminar is getting those naysayers to understand that team building leads to a more positive and productive working environment with less stress.

Here are three ways to get naysayers to engage in successful team building.


1. Create meaningful projects

Many companies that specialize in team building are finding success by adding meaningful activities for employees.

Philanthropic challenges can have impact and personal value. For example, employees can build prosthetic hands and learn that they’ll be donated to people who need them and can’t afford them.

Anytime you can add an emotional impact with the employee, the more helpful and fulfilling it will be.

It also helps to move the event somewhere offsite if available. Being outside at a park or in a rented meeting place like a hotel can be more exciting.

2. Reprogram employee behavior

We can assume that when the culture is suffering or when the culture is thriving, people can feel the difference. Results improve when culture is healthy. A healthy culture produces a happy (and productive!) employee.

They can do certain tasks for the team building event and relate it to their duties with the company. The key is to move the conversation past the activity and focus more on the productivity that is possible for the process.

Team building can help employees get back to the basics to better understand their role and how it helps the company. Clarity here can go a long way.

This is an excellent chance to find new rewards for employees that recognize their great work.

It will also present clear opportunities for leaders to emerge. If you have a new manager or supervisors on board, or one that has been waiting in the wings to emerge, team building creates opportunities for potential leaders to performa and prove they can be effective.

3. Document results

Many companies forget to keep track of the results from team building. Hiring a freelance photographer or getting someone on staff to take photos is essential for documentation.

Often times, team building motivates employees to give back more to the community in the future. If team building inspires employees to form a team to run in a local charity’s 5K, participate in a park or river cleanup or even plant a new tree in the company parking lot, make it known that you’re participating in a community aspect.

When you can document and publicize these instances, whether within the company or to the community, it can create a great sense of pride with the employee and garner a great reputation for the company.

Invite your social media coordinator to participate and encourage him or her to think of positive ways to showcase your team building event in the social space.

Thanks

Gratitude. Not always the easiest emotion or attitude to evoke. There are momentary glimpses – thankfulness in response to a grandiose gesture, a major life event, or a meaningful gift received on a special occasion. But gratitude for the small things is more difficult.

We take for granted that this morning we woke up, took a breath of air, and got out of bed. We forget the blessing in opening a refrigerator of food, and the reality that even if the milk was spoiled, there is a grocery store just down the street with gallons more. We fail to be thankful that while brushing our teeth at the bathroom sink, we turn on a faucet and clean water comes out – at whatever temperature we desire. Sideline the big things – the little ones are abounding.

But when the full reality of life is occurring all around us – the ups and down, the stressors, busyness, and the mundane – it can be difficult to default to anything even slightly akin to thankfulness. Fortunately there is November, with the fourth Thursday dedicated to the elusive action-feeling of giving thanks. This week, here at Odyssey Teams we take advantage of a coached opportunity to be grateful. We have no shortage of reasons.

We are thankful for a new building and new team members. We are grateful for the incredible programs that have occurred across the country and around the world these past months. We give thanks for the hundreds of hands, bikes, skateboards, and playhouses that have been built and donated by the remarkable companies that we have the privilege of working alongside. And we are beyond grateful for the friends we have made within companies near and far, who catch our vision, encourage our dream, and allow us the opportunities to do what we love. Thank you for inviting us into your teams, companies, and schools. For stepping out of your comfort zone, for giving time to build something for someone else, and for joining us in this journey. We are grateful.

It's Powerful Stuff.


WHEN PEOPLE FEEL LIKE ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.