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.
Updates from your favorite Leadership, CSR, Teambuilding company that offers Life Cycles (bike building), Helping Hands, Playhouse Challenge and so much more.
Wow, it’s been over 8 weeks since I posted a blog here. Did you miss me? I’m still unsure who reads these. Though as they say, “the gift is in the giving”. The gift is also a bit selfish on my part as the task creates a reason for me to pause and reflect on things, which is always good.
Lots of things have been going on the past 2 months in the world of Odyssey Teams. We facilitated over 26 programs all over the USA, China, Netherlands, Greece, and Czech Republic. We also designed and delivered a Helping Hands program for 4,300 people! …our largest audience at one time, so far.
Earlier this month I delivered Helping Hands (One of Odyssey Teams CSR Leadership programs, i.e. Life Cycles where you get to build a bike for a child, the Playhouse Challenge etc.), in Singapore for 65 people from APAC & Japan. In the mix, High Potential leaders from one of the worlds largest firms, representing over 14 countries.
The work went extremely well. Our style of delivery and content brought the group together and they left our session feeling more open, connected, and proud of their team and the huge difference their relatively short time spent will make in other people’s lives.
It was quite fun for me to be back in Singapore. It had been over 15 years since my last trip. Further back in 1987, Singapore and Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands is where I really began building my craft as a trainer and facilitator. I was immersed in these countries for 3 months, surrounded by masters in our arena and delivering content that was extraordinary. Our charge was to create miracles for AT&T’s consumer products division via a rollout for hundreds of their leaders. In short, we did.
We watch very little TV in our house. One of the shows we used to watch often was The Amazing Race. Good clean fun, language, themes, and get to see the world too. Teams of two people travel the globe with unknown challenges and opportunities along the way. Our daughters like it (11, 15 yrs.), as do my parents (Late 70’s).
Last week I was set to deliver two of Odyssey Teams CSR Leadership programs; Life Cycles where you teams build a bike for children in Niagara Falls, Canada and Helping Hands in Santa Monica California. The race began on Monday.
Flew from Sacramento to Washington DC to Buffalo NY then drove a rental car to Niagara-on the- Lake Canada. Tuesday morning drove to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls, (BTW I believe there are literally thousands, not just 7).
Odyssey Teams partnered with Rotarians in Bangalore Peenya India for their annual Mega Jaipur Limb Camp, which is going on now. On day two of camp, there have been 586 beneficiaries and the distribution is as follows: 211 Limbs, 227 Calipers, 128 Crutches, and 20 LN-4 Prosthetic Hands. Rotary Bangalore Peenya was chartered in 1983 with a group of 24 dedicated Rotarians as chartered members with an objective of implementing service projects. LN-4 Prosthetic Hands, a joint project of RI Dist 5160 and 5110, have been introduced for the first time this year. This hand can enable beneficiaries to hold a glass, eat with a spoon, and even write with a pen or control a steering wheel. 100 LN-4 Prosthetic Hands were provided for this camp.
The Mission continues…
On October 26th Corproem (Corporacion Red de Promatoras Empresariales Microfinancieras), and GE united in Colombia to assemble 30 prosthetic hands from Odyssey’s Build-a-Hand Kits. Through the joining of Corproem, LN-4 Foundation, and Rotary, 30 GM executives got together to build the LN-4 Prosthetic Hands, which were then distributed to recipients in Colombia. Odyssey Teams would like to thank Luis Norberto Lopez G. and
Rotary Colombia for making this event happen.
“It is the first time that this wonderful activity has been developed in Colombia, besides undoubtedly strengthening teamwork, it sensitizes and allows us to dispose of armed prostheses and more volunteers for future campaigns prosthesis delivery. Besides the experience with the GE executives, it was very rewarding for the team Corproem to support the activity because it is the first link of an humanitarian work that returns the autonomy and dignity of so many people in need around the world. Many thanks to GE executives especially to Juliana Prieto and Ana Luisa Perez coordinators of so laudable an initiative for convening us as support in developing this altruistic and transcendental activity.” ~ Luis Norberto
I can’t take it anymore!!! What is team building?
After 20 years of traveling all over the world and working with the top of fortune 100 companies and the bottom of lots of others, I have hit my breaking point. I’ve been doing leadership development, communication seminars and “teambuilding” and many of my own clients are still wondering… What is teambuilding? I’m wondering what they really want from me. I’m not sure anybody really knows. I might not even know. But at this point, I’m as big an expert as I can find, so I am going to try and help define this beast for all of us. The definition has become so broad, so overused that some people are beginning to confuse “team hazing” as teambuilding and I don’t really want to be a part of that. Do you…?
One of the business simulations incorporated in our programs is called ‘Pressure Points’. Unwittingly, a barrier is created (raised) by participants in the simulation that negatively impacts communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. The challenge is to lower the barrier to these and the ‘Pressure Points’ bar will follow. Like life, what seems simple, is at times quite trying. In ‘business as usual’ the barrier often goes up rather than down.
Participants often describe the need for better work/life balance. And it seems one of the current infringements on this alluring ‘balance’ is the technology that was suppose to help us achieve it – EMAIL
Aside from too many emails being ‘cc’d’ to people who don’t really need to know (nor care to know) there is another significant problem – Checking and responding to emails on the weekends and after hours.
What was once a fun thing to check on the new ‘mobile device’ has now turned in to an addiction that is hard to kick. Yes, it’s a global economy, but does it have to be a 24/7 economy? Who is making that rule? If you are checking and responding to emails after hours and/or on weekends then you could be-unintentionally. By doing so, you help raise the barrier to work/life balance because whomever you emailed may have felt (out of duty, guilt, fear, brown nose etc.) compelled to reply on the weekend… and so on and so on and the multiplier effect ensues and now people are checking their devices on ‘date nights’, children’s sports events, dinner tables, on the couch.
Perhaps you just wake up early or stay up late while others are sleeping. Might you need a good nights sleep too? Will the caffeinated ‘energy drink’ pull you through and make you present during the rest of your sleepy day?
The costs? You know them – less time to exercise, less energy, less quality time with those you care most about, less time for you and more distractions and stress.
Are there exceptions and benefits? Of course, such as, closing a deal; use of ‘jet lag’ time in hotel rooms. Working with a client in India or the Czech Republic requires some odd hours. We know that anything taken to excess has the potential to become our weakness. Thus, it’s not all or none, rather, whether out of duty, joy, ambition, or fear we must remain aware of the line to know when we’ve crossed it.
Trust the process (a work week etc.) and people on your teams. The barrier will lower. Things will get handled in a timely, professional, manner. Customers and business will carry on quite well…and you will too.
So who is going to go first – and with their seemingly insignificant amount of influence on the barrier of work/life balance in their firm – and NOT do emails on the weekends and such? Will it be you or will you wait to see who goes first? If the later, we’ll all be waiting and doing emails ferociously in the meantime. And the priceless non-renewable resource of time for self and those we love is gone. Be aware of the pattern (and what’s important to you) and make a choice.
In 2004 Lain Hensley, co-owner of Odyssey, and I were discussing the notion of blowing out our paradigm of what was possible for us in terms of business success WITH family/health balance. We were playing around with a new training concept that would challenge others to be more ‘unrealistic’ in their pursuits. We called the program/process Unrealistic Leadership™. I decided that if we were going to espouse such ideas that I must be willing to try my/our own medicine…. If we can’t produce tremendous results then how can we claim to know anything about it and/or teach others?
So, I committed to train for and complete an Ironman traithlon. I had been a runner before but never a swimmer or cyclist. I had also been discouraged by Doctors saying that due to chondromalacia (knee disorder) my knees would progressively get worse/weaker and my running days were over.
The question of balance in my life at the time when there was no conceivable way for me to find the time to train for this was a real issue. How could I find the time? And could my knees become stronger, more re-generative?
Two boys, age 4 and 6 needing much father time. My wife, ever supportive of my pursuits though a bit worried about this one. The work vacuum pulling me in without enough hours in the day for what we needed to do as a business. Travel to various countries and time zones to deliver Odyssey programs.
I spent the next two years carving crazy amounts of hours and places to fit in my training. Getting stronger and fitter over that time eased my mind a little bit but it never erased the main fear that I had of not being able to accomplish this goal. It was so beyond me and any evidence that I had produced – even all the way up to the day of my Ironman – that I could get off my bike after riding 112 miles and swimming 2.4 miles and begin a marathon. Nothing in my training came even close to providing such evidence of possibility or probability. The only thing that I kept hearing from other Ironman finishers was that (you) will be able to tap into something without ever knowing whether you’ll be able to tap into it. Hmmmm? How does that work?
At the same time of committing to my Ironman, Lain and I had also committed to much bigger financial goals within Odyssey. This multi-pronged ‘unrealistic pursuit’ meant that Odyssey’s global impact needed to have more impact. So while I rode, I thought. While I ran, I thought. While I swam I thought. And there was plenty of time to think with peak training weeks reaching 18 hours. I was learning that some of my greatest breakthroughs for Odyssey came during some of my earliest runs, longest bike rides or hardest training moments. Sometimes really tough trainings were the only way to get out of my head and NOT think about Odyssey. These quiet times of brain and busy times of body were invaluable to freeing up space for something new to arrive in my thinking – later.
The toll of my training time impacted the Odyssey team who compensated enormously for my crazy schedule covering me at different times and events so I could squeeze time.
Notable training moments on Odyssey trips included falling off the treadmill in Singapore when I was too focussed on looking at myself in the mirror and didn’t see that I was running slower than the treadmill. Oops! Falling off an elyptical trainer in Zurich when the handle caught the sleeve of my t-shirt and launched me over the front. Navigating through dozens of kids playing marco polo in an indoor pool in Dublin. Swimming in a roof top pool in Madrid the night the bombs went off in Spain (Al Queada). Long runs in Germany with my Odyssey crew after too much Munich the night before.
May 22nd finally arrived. Friends and families of hundreds of wanna-be Ironmen and women finishers cheered with bagpipes blazing and a gunshot that started the final phase of our Ironman journey and my ‘unrealistic’ pursuit.
Eleven and a half hours later I finished. Many obstacles came up during that time as I covered this last 140 miles of my journey. Perhaps all the fear, trepidation, nervousness and anxiety prepared me to have it be ‘not as bad as I thought’. Trusting more than my little voice may be telling me not to, believing in something beyond the current body of evidence that I have of what is possible, relying on my team (family, co-workers) and others. These lessons still resonate though I often find myself sliding down the slippery path of more ‘realistic’ views that the media, economy, doctors and other influences have that my unconscious uses to manipulate into a perspective that is safer, more ‘real’ and ultimately, less powerful.
Odyssey doubled it’s revenues over the course of my Ironman pursuit. My knees are still stronger than before (Cross training, religious intake of Glucosomine and still the belief in re-generation of these miracle joints) My kids were fine with Dad training so much and will hopefully remember me crossing the finish line with one of them under each arm. My wife, ever supportive, worries about a sequel though I’ve committed that IronDad is more important to me now than another Ironman.
I read a scientific study recently that people’s overall success and happiness is determined by the belief that they have some control or influence on their future and the world around them. People that held this belief were far more successful, created more desired results, and had better health.
This fact seems instrumental in what Corporations should be focusing on providing for their people. Currently the economy is tenuous, which can lead to uncertain times and draw people into fear, hesitancy and stagnation. What we have witnessed is that Odyssey programs can reestablish and ignite people’s attitudes that they can impact their world. This is a powerful belief that leads to more hopefulness, productivity, and pure motivation.
Businesses may not be able to give their employees security right now, but they can give them something (especially in this economical climate) priceless and long lasting. The inspired feeling that they do indeed have an impact and influence on the world around them. That what they do does matter significantly.
This is the first attitudinal principle that gets questioned in these kinds of times. Helping Odyssey programs like Life Cycles (bike building teambuilding) will ignite the belief that I can make a difference no matter what the circumstances. This is the key to success because it promotes an ability to transcend the current climate of fear and uncertainty. This fact has been revealed through our own experiences and observation, but also scientifically supported.