Tag Archives: connection

A Commitment to Community

We ardently seek moments that allow us to engage in something bigger than ourselves. Surrounded by people working towards one common goal, there is a certain amount of awe and belonging that emerges from the tangible sense of community. We experienced a bit of that a few weeks ago. In late July, Odyssey Teams spent several days in humid Florida, delivering one of our largest annual Life Cycles programs – 1,100 participants building 183 bikes for children in the surrounding area. The resulting impact was impressive – as kids flooded the room in expectant anticipation and participants met their recipient face to face. But the community that had formed and flourished in the hours prior was of equal note and celebration.

Community within the workplace is an oft-discussed buzzword, as organizations attempt to create a foundation of cooperation, communication, and friendship between cubicles and across pay grades. Regrettably, faltered community is often seen as the expected growing pain of expansion, or the unfortunate opportunity cost of an increasingly technological world. But here at Odyssey Teams, we keenly believe that does not have to be the case.

We stand firm that it is of utmost importance to put people in a room together and connect them as a team and as people – leading to the creation of a positive emotional memory of the company, team, or leadership. It might not be cost or time efficient, because frankly, relationships are never going to be primarily economic in their formation. But it is of immeasurable value. We will only be at our very best when our hands and hearts are connected and engaged with our community, and we are reminded that we are a valuable part of it all. Our programs are designed to foster that community – addressing both the individual and the greater team that they represent. Teams consistently leave from an Odyssey Teams event with a powerful memory of a shared experience, and with the tools and resources to effectively build upon that foundation.

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Team Meetings – the Do’s and Don’ts

We have a few meetings weekly, and so far none are really productive, resulting in a huge emotional response from several folks. How can we change the emotional memory so that these meetings become productive?

Research has shown that physiology is critical to our state of mind and that the complexity of the human condition requires us to address the physical self in addition to the mental state. Some suggestions and things to try — these are very simple and they will work. I have seen this work for 23 years EVERY TIME.

> Do not let people sit in the same seat for each meeting or for more than 30 minutes at one meeting.  They become territorial of their seat and their ideas. Standing is preferred when brainstorming or when you would like to have open dialogue.  Be sure ALL seats feel like they are just as important as the next, and that each person can see and be heard.  If you are going to allow sitting, then every 15 minutes have people move to a new seat. I am not joking… this will work, and they will smile, move, engage, and feel better without you even trying. They might resist this the first time, but then they will begin to prepare for the switch and move past the resistance.

> Never promise to have the meeting over in “X” amount of time so that we can all get back to work. WHAT?! I have seen so many meetings start this way. Start each meeting with a STAND. Make a strong stand for what you expect the value from the meeting will be and why you need them engaged.  Example: “Thanks for being here team. I am thrilled we have this time together and hope we have enough time to fully understand the value of this presentation to our success. We will be going over the financial today and you all know how important this information is to our ability to project the next business move and make our life easier. I value each of your input and perspective and I invited you to be here because I am convinced we can grow our business if each of us fully understand this data.” You get the idea.  Make it sound good to be at the meeting and make a big promise and then deliver. If the leader is not passionate about the meeting then the team will follow.

> Listen very carefully to the “Beliefs of your team.”  When you hear a negative belief, you need to identify the belief in a non-threatening way and then go to work to change it.  Example: I am… People are… Life is… This meeting is…  This team is…  My boss is… This project is… and so on. Beliefs influence focus, and that creates reality for people. If people say, “My boss is great,” then they will see things that support that belief.  If I love the rain, then when I hear it raining in the morning, I am already happy and my mood is up. If people believe this meeting is a waste of time, then they will be very slow to see anything else.

> The huge emotional response is actually a good thing. Change your belief about it. They have emotion because they still care and they want it to be better. If you get to a point that you no longer see emotion, then people are becoming apathetic and they will not work to improve the situation.

-Lain Hensley

Community

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 not to share.

“How amazing is to be part of a team that’s getting so much larger, yet we’re feeling closer to one another.”

Community within the workplace is an often-discussed buzzword, as organizations attempt to create a foundation of cooperation, communication, and friendship between cubicles and across pay grades. Faltering community is often a logical growing pain of expansion, but here at Odyssey Teams, we firmly believe that does not have to be the case. Key elements of community are shared vision, common values, and collaboration. During an Odyssey Teams philanthropic teambuilding event, these characteristics are expounded upon, practiced, and celebrated. Your team leaves at the end of the event with a powerful memory of a shared experience, and with the tools and resources to effectively build upon that foundation – even as your organization grows and expands.

Impressions

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 not to share.

“You may get only one chance at a first impression, but you have multiple opportunities for a lasting impression.”

We’ve all been there. An awkward handshake introduction followed by stilted small talk during cocktail hour. The botched sales call with one too many lengthy pauses. That very first email contact with a poorly placed typo. This quote written by a participant at a recent Life Cycles event allows us all to shake off those sticky and less than ideal first moments and move forward. Hallelujah.

At Odyssey Teams, we firmly believe in the power of relationships. During the course of a Life Cycles events, participant teams have the opportunity to build a bike for a customer, and then at the end of the session, a name and face is assigned to the customer when a crush of kids come streaming in from the back of the room. Teams have the opportunity to meet their customer, talk about their favorite color and sports team and ice cream flavor, hear about how they dislike math but love recess. Relationships are forged, and the child’s life is marked by the memory of that afternoon and the lasting impression of that conversation – awkward out of the gate or not

A focus on relationships can transform work. Remembering the end recipient puts a face and name to the daily tasks. Seeking to build relationships creates further meaning and purpose. And aiming to forge a relationship allows for ample opportunities to impress, leaving that typo long forgotten and the weak handshake a thing of the past.

 

Listen Up

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 not to share.

“Listen.”

Consider the following situation. Walk into your neighborhood coffee shop. Order the usual. Barista hands the drink across the counter, and says, “Enjoy your latte!” Your response – “You too!”

How often do we speak without out hearing? Give responses before even processing the question posed, or offer an opinion without registering the initial statement? We make assumptions based on our own experiences and habits, and reflexively speak without taking the time to truly listen and process. Which is mildly embarrassing, but totally fine in the case of wishing your waitress a good meal. But not so ideal when the stakes are higher, the relationships more established, and the subject matter a lot more volatile.

Just as problematic is the opposite – speaking after thinking a bit too much. In conversation, our attention is split between what is being said and thinking about how we will respond – and often disproportionately towards the latter. I’m so busy listening to the little voice in my head as it figures my insightful, witty, or definitive next statement that I forget that I’m supposed to be listening to you. Equally dangerous as not thinking at all.

Headed into the next week, may we take notice of our communication patterns, and seek to improve the ways that we listen and speak. May we seek not just to be heard, but also to listen to those with whom we work, play, and live.

Couch Time

A nice thing about leading Odyssey’s philanthropic team-building workshops such as Life Cycles (the original program where teams build a bike for children) or Helping Hands, (build-a-hand kit), is that we don’t have much business Thanksgiving week. Thus, I get more time on the couch.
When we were packing up and saying our goodbyes to my mom & dad for a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend…my mom pulled me aside and said – “Todd, yesterday when you were sitting on the couch with Maggie (our 11 yr. old daughter), and listening to her as she shared what she created and was interested in. I thought to myself…I never had any moments like that with my father. I just wanted to let you know you are a fabulous dad and those moments are precious.”
I was caught with a mix of gratitude for the acknowledgement, though sad my mom never had moments like that with her father. To me that is one of the best parts of parenthood – slowing down, meeting our children where they are, and being open to hear and connect with them. I think at some level that is what we all need. Couch time.

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Small Team Builds Hands and Changes Lives

Small Team Builds Hands and Changes Lives
When I was asked to do our Helping Hands philanthropic teambuilding program for a group of six people, I reluctantly agreed. My favorite size groups delivering Helping Hands, Life Cycles Build-a bike program and our others has been in the hundreds of participants range. I wasn’t sure how the build-up activities and conversations would go before assembling the LN-4 Prosthetic Hands.
This small group was from Cisco – Latin America and they just blew me away. Yes, the Latino culture lives up to its reputation of being a passionate culture.
These six have much to teach the rest of us about teamwork and leadership from a place of thinking deeply AND feeling deeply. They came to the states for a larger meeting with cohorts from North America. They wanted to align on desired outcomes and make a difference for others in the process.
What a difference they made for three people whose lives will be changed by receiving the new LN-4 prosthetic hands they built during the Helping Hands program. Most surprisingly, however, is the difference they made on me. I am digging small programs now just as much as the large ones – with the caveat that they’re ready to think deeply and feel deeply as this group did.
Bill

Team Building – Connect to the “Why” at work

Team Building- Connect to the “Why” at work
Life is now, for the moment. At Odyssey Teams, Inc. we strive to bring emotion and insight in our programs so people get at a visceral level what it means to Plan, Support, Align, Create etc. together. Two of our goals during our Philanthropic Corporate Team Building sessions are to create an emotional connection to the ‘why’ of people’s work and strengthen the connections to the people they work with on the job/projects.
It is a busy time of year for us. In the past 24 days we’ve been in 2 countries, 5 states, delivering 4 types of philanthropic and team building programs to 19 different groups. Needless to say we are a bit road weary though proud of the results we’ve co-created with our partners and participants.
At the start of this ‘run’ I was at UCLA Medical Center and watched a friend (45 years young, wife, 2 kids 6yrs & 3yrs) just four feet away take his last breath. My wife had her hand on his heart, while his wife held his hand as he went to the next place. From that moment on it has been a special kind of Team Building and Charitable event. His family and friends mobilized to plan and align on all of the many known and unknown next steps. Support, brainstorming, creativity and care were all on hyper aware mode. The results made the best (and beautiful) of very challenging times for all involved.
It seems more and more people are being ‘Teflon Business Nice’ to each other — Being pleasant, saying just enough, following protocol, a bit of ‘game face’ on, keeping it surface level. While this may work on a typical/average day, the risk is that a crisis, critical choice point, or other breakdown may occur and these people have no depth of connection/relationship to reach out to those who need help or the ability to extend to those who may help them with their issue.
Things are easier with others by our sides. Share a bit more of yourself- Life is now.
So, connect. Connect now.

Finding time to connect

Waiting. Plugged into one of the few, coveted outlets at Gate 12. Ready to pierce the night sky at 560 mph, 40,000 feet and 60 below zero – in a coke-bottle-shaped tube with wings. As the earth’s most collaborative species, together, we have made this kind of technologically advanced transportation possible. So many shoulders on which we have stood.
Our world is becoming smaller and smaller, faster and faster every day. But with each breakthrough in technology we also galvanize a new level of expectation where we feel justified in complaining that our flight is delayed an hour – or a day, or that “this” airline doesn’t have TVs in the back of EVERY seat or that our phone can’t make toast.

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