English Language is Missing a Word

I’m sure in some culture, some dialect, some language there is a word for what I’m thinking of today. . . but not in English.
Often in work or home life we are engrossed in our own activities, striving for a feeling of personal accomplishment or did-it-ness. In team work, we are faced with an opportunity to share success with others. Such team wins often require the team to make the most of the unique talents of each individual. This requires sharing responsibility, trusting each team member to do their best making use of their unique collection of skills, talents, and abilities.

But distribution of tasks does not lead to automatic success, even with the most accomplished team members making the most of their talents, there is another element that is above all most important.

A Shared Yes.

And that is the word that is missing in the English language.

A Shared Yes is a powerful thing, something that goes beyond teamwork. Beyond a shared goal. A shared yes requires a deep belief that the objectives are worth striving for, that the means to achieving them are distributed within our team, and that only by working in synergy with others it will be possible to achieve our goals.

A Shared Yes requires team members to define the goal together, to recognize the skills talents and abilities that can be drawn out of each individual, and commit to a comprehensive plan for achieving that goal.

There is nothing quite like a shared yes, and there is no word in the English language that quite captures its essence.

Just think about it:
What projects are you working on that others might help you define or refine the goal on?
What skills talents and abilities waiting in others could be put to better use?
Who do you have an affinity with, that you could have a shared strategy-development session with?

Taking Time

Great Teams take time for the important things. Great Leaders take time for the important things. The key is determining which are the important things and which are not. Then making the decision to do what is best for ourself, our families, our teams.

A few years ago, my brother reminded me that you only get 80 chances in a lifetime to appreciate the Fall Colours. That of course assumes a lot. But even if its a few more or less, the point is you only get a limited amount of time to enjoy the world around us and the special people in our lives.

Taking time out to feel alive whether its an autumn walk with friends or family, or a round of golf on a sunny day, or even time alone just breathing in the fresh air and natural beauty of some natural location is what contributes to the wellness of many people.

Each day, we can decide that the urgent and sometimes important things in our lives need to take a backseat to personal wellness.

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Choosing to go to bed early to rise and breath in a freshly brewed coffee while the sun rises is avaiable to me. It’s also a choice to turn on the TV or radio to keep my mind busy. Sometimes letting the quiet seep into my bones is all I really need to perform at my best on the job. When I take the time to rejuvenate myself, I get more done in less time with less energy and less stress.

Often, Nature is what recharges my batteries. What recharges yours?
Just think about it: What natural space can you escape to?
Just do it: Plan 15 minutes in your day tomorrow to enjoy some time in nature or with someone you love. Don’t commit to anything except engaging with a special someone or some place.

When doing one of the above, don’t be connected to outcome, just experience making a deep connection without expectation of anything special. Incidentally, try connecting with a person or place you may have avoided for a long time. Such an act may yield some interesting rewards.

Return to work and check in to see if it makes a difference in your day. You may find yourself giving permission to yourself and others to take time out to ensure a healthier, happier, more productive staff.

Lao-Tse lives in my computer

We’ve been beset by numerous computer challenges recently including virus attacks and a recent hard drive crash. The regularity of our computer woes is a bit alarming and I seem to be the most affected by these bi-annual meltdowns.

A few years ago when this would happen, I would take the computer to the repair shop and take a few days off to enjoy some time in nature.

At the height of our booking season, its not too feasible to have everyone take a few days off until things are working again, so perhaps we are to focus our attention in other areas.

One time a technician working on the problem reported to me, “Your computer is toast, do you have it backed up?” Of course I’ve learned and we have copies of copies of most of our work, data, etc. But the thing I remember is what I wrote on the paper in my dismay at having lost everything,

” Computer is taoist.” (toast spelled improperly)

I giggled to myself at that freudian slip of sorts. I thought it quite a coincidence that my CPU (short for central processing unit) was very close to the toaist spelling of P’u, the basic Taoism principle that states: “all things are beautiful in their own right”

According to Lao-tse, the father of Taoism (pronounced dowism), the world is full of lessons and everything has its own nature which cannot be violated without causing trouble. I know that without computers functioning, deadlines are missed and client needs are not met. What do I have to learn from what is going on around me?

Wu-Wei might be a better operating system than Windows XP. Don’t force things to happen. Go with the flow, and work with what you’ve got.

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Since my computers are not functioning, I ask myself, “How can I transform this situation so that it has a benefit?” I can spend extra time with my kids or give attention to important people in my life or find time to wander about in nature (or on a golf course!) not feeling negligent about what I’m supposed to be doing, because I cannot do it.

Have you noticed how some people can actually cause computers to function improperly? I’ve noticed that the attitude and energy of the person working at the computer has quite a bit to do with how well the machine functions. Just ask yourself:Do you have other things in your world that respond to you in a reflective way based on your sense of balance and harmony? What are they trying to say to you?

I think about how much our lives have changed in the past twenty years. Now a powerful Taoist guru is silently teaching me the ability to enjoy the simple and the quiet.

Just do it: Spend a few minutes reflecting on what is going on around you. What is the world reaching out and trying to say to you.

What are you leaving on the Cutting Room Floor?

Funerals are wonderful opportunities to reflect on our lives and the important people in them. At a recent funeral gathering I was speaking with a dear friend and opined that perhaps we can consider our lives as just still frames in a much longer movie. We live on in our children and in the lives of others where for at least one shining moment we make a difference.
I hope that time spent with my family and friends, and participating in life-enhancing activities that enable me to connect with the deeper parts of myself and this wonderful world don’t end up on the cutting room floor because I decided that I didn’t have time for them. I must make time for the important things in my life if I am to be happy and fully content with the life I’m living, now and at the end of my days.
I’m taking time to reflect today on the things that are part of the movie of my life and wondering what things in my movie would be best left on the cutting room floor, making room for more important things. As I sit here typing, I am called to hop in my kayak and make a slow turn about the bay here in our corner of the lake. Yes, even when living in a wonderful world such as I do, it can be easy to overlook the importance of enjoying my surroundings every day. I am making a commitment to go for a sea kayaking paddle tomorrow morning before tending to the other needs of business and living. I know I’ll feel better having made this choice to start off my day.
And when the gang (Martha, Tim, Emily and Natalie) return to the lodge, I’m going to spend some quality time with each of them and all of them.
Just Think About it: What would you like to pick up off the cutting room floor and make room for in the movie of your life?
Just do it: Choose one thing to enhance your day tomorrow and make a commitment to do it. You will have to also commit to cutting something less important out of your day in order to make it happen.

Newfoundland – Team Building for Community Enhancement

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I’ve just returned from two weeks of “Community Team Building” working with two good friends in delivering an Experiential program in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland.

The Wonder of such places, motivates and inspires all people to look at the potential within themselves and their team.

Whenever I deliver a team building program I learn quite a bit about myself. This time, I got a huge dose of admiration for the strengths of others. After the third day of experiences, I shared a short conversation with one of my partners who was feeling a bit out of sorts, because one of our partners didn’t share the same delivery style or focus. As I listened to the story, I knew the essence of team. It bubbled forth in a wave of appreciation.

When working with others, I don’t have the energy to worry about how or what others are doing, I am totally focused on what I need to do. In letting others build teams and potential in their own way, it permits each of me to deliver my true essence, my personal brilliance. . . and so too, they deliver theirs.

Sure, I would do some things differently, if I were them, but the point is, I’m not. Our differences are what make our delivery team so special, and our experiences so memorable and meaningful.

Upon leaving a building, at the end of the training, our team reviewed the comments of participants to better prepare for our next group. We were all amazed at the consensus of the course participants. They knew us better than we knew ourselves. They identified each of our unique personalities and the strengths that were evident among our team.

My colleague and I flew home with a complete understanding that our differences are what make our team building capacity so great.

Just think about it: When can you give up a little bit of control to let others on your team contribute their true essence?

Just do it: The next time the urge to confront someone on your team with what they are doing that bothers you, take a look at the deeper strengths that are present in that individual and help them bring their passion to the forefront, to ensure that unparalleled success follows as a natural byproduct of your team building endeavors.

Waking up

The days get longer and the sun gets up earlier and every day offers a bit more opportunity to live life to its fullest. Over the past week I have excitedly watched as wildflowers have unfolded in the spring progression that lasts only a few short weeks each year.

Every day I have an opportunity to open my senses and soak up more of my world than I did yesterday. Change is never easy, but taking time once, can yield rewards that make it a much easier decision to make tomorrow.

I was speaking with a friend who has begun rowing on Lake Ontario each morning. The difference it makes in his day is immesurable and he cannot imagine not doing it. Yesterday I went for a morning walk, (something I rarely take the time to do) and was rewarded with the sighting of a white trillium. White trillium are present in large parts of Ontario, but in my forest, it seems red trillium are all I ever see. It was such a surprise and joy to encounter this white trillium that I will remember it and tell stories about it dozens of times I am sure over my lifetime.

Then, later in the day we had an opportunity to walk to a friends cabin in the woods for dinner. What captured my imagination this time was unseen. It was the marvelous fragrance of the forest. The flowers on the trees, shrubs and small wildflowers including spring beauties were making my world delectible.

All in all, these two experiences combined took 10 minutes, and the rejuvenation I felt is still impacting my spirit today. I am a better person because of these encounters.

Just think about it: What special moments are you overlooking today?

Just do it: Give yourself 10 minutes today to give your attention totally to something you encounter every day. It just might make a difference in your outlook on other aspects of your life and make you a better leader or team member.

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Team Building with Appreciative Inquiry

Four team building components that we have been using over the past 8 years are crucial to creating meaningful, memorable, successfulCorporate team building experiences for executive teams. By simple trial and error, we’ve found that ensuring there is Appreciative Inquiry time for Discovering (Adventure), Dreaming, Designing (Creative Expression), and Tribal Community Gathering we engage our guests in a way that is truly remarkable.

Yesterday, a departing executive team member remarked, “When we were finally going to get down to our concrete business planning today, I was doubtful we would accomplish what was needed, having spent a great deal of time on fun, seamingly unrelated activities. At the end of the day I am truly amazed at what we have accomplished and I feel full of energy, not depleted as I usually am at the end of a business planning session.”

Indeed these folks are headed toward a new year with a brighter outlook because they took the time to include each of these elements.

Just think about it: For your last executive retreat or team building session, how many of the above components were included? How successful was your event? Could it have been enhanced by adding an element or two?

Just do it: Regardless of the team building solution you seek, ensure the service provider takes the time to include the four cornerstones that result in 100% engagement of participants and produces real extra-ordinary results.

Turtle Teachings

Over the past three days I’ve seen eight snapping turtles laying eggs. These ancient creatures that have been around for hundreds of thousands of years virtually unchanged. I watch the mother turtles dig, dig, dig, then drop gooey ping pong ball eggs into the 12 inch deep hole and cover them over before returning to the water.

What is most striking is that these turtles are seeking out the best location to lay their eggs and they have all come to the same conclusion: The gravel at the side of the road is just the spot!

There is a fierceness and dedication shown in these turtles as they face danger that roars by on the road a few feet from their nest, because the gravel there is the best nesting site.

Chunky granite gravel must be easy to dig, while provide a safe amount of protection from preditors, and being a proper type of material for freshly hatched turtles to climb through and make it safely to the surface before heading to the nearby water.

Over the millenia, snapping turtles have found the courage to stand their ground. As Gloria Estifan is singing on the radio as I type: hopefully, “I’ve finally found the courage to stand my ground.”

I’m called to think about my fierceness today.
Just think about it:
What am I willing to risk life and limb for? What values do I stand for in my workplace with my team? How do I communicate these values? In the face of what adversity do I turn and return to safety, while neglecting my deeper need to stand up and do or say the right thing?

Fierceness is not the same as agressiveness, it’s more like tenacity, or a willingness to be seen doing the right thing. 

Others should not recoil from me because I am loud or abrasive while stating my needs with my team, or doing my work the way it needs to be done.

Like the snapping turtle, I may need to cloak myself in protective armour and dress for success, and project my needs with confidence and self assuredness. But also like the turtle, I need to just do what I need to do, how I need to do it, and when I’ve done the best that I can, turn my back and head to the safety of the water, and there wait, wait, wait….
in the hopes that some of the eggs I bury make it safely into the world.

Profit Through Partnership

The following article appeared in the Almaguin News following a seminar Todd presented in Ontario, Canada, May 5th, 2004

Lucier Is Inspiring

Lucier’s presentation, alone, was considered by many well-worth the price of admission.
The owner of Northern Edge Algonquin and Blue Canoe in South River was both entertaining and motivating during a 40-minute presentation — a timeslot that proved far too short for what Lucier had planned to offer.
Nevertheless, the crowd was given a glimpse into how a business or venture can succeed and prosper in the region, with or without pavement.
Todd Lucier contends that niche markets have to be actively sought, fostered and marketed in innovative and creative ways.
He told those assembled at the conference to stop thinking about ‘Almaguin Highlands’ as a Muskoka-type tourist destination, and look for a more global connection.
“Use the power of internationally recognized brands … like Algonquin Park, not Almaguin Highlands, because there’s nobody out there specifically looking for Almaguin Highlands,” Lucier offered.
He said the market being sought should not be toward those who are passing through the area along Highway 11. Rather, it should be toward customers who have been carefully identified and enticed to a local attraction or event in the region.
“Start thinking about who your best customer is and how you can meet their needs. Ask yourselves, ‘what would they (tourists) come here for?’ And then, market and package it so they will,” offered Lucier.
Success for Todd Lucier and his wife Martha is due in part to something he calls ‘narrowcasting’ — creating and marketing to very narrow groups, niche markets.
Lucier also credits business success to marketing initiatives that partner with corporate identities, like Ontario Northland, Blue Sky Network and the New York Times on marketing initiatives. He believes they lend important credibility to a business.
The Northern Edge Algonquin principal also suggested that it is essential for competitors to work together, not against each other, in marketing their products and/or events.
“Take that old attitude about competition and throw it out … the only way to succeed is to partner with someone you’re most threatened by, Lucier offered.
“Identify your unique selling points, establish a partnership with people you have an affinity with, and sell each other,” he added.
Lucier said the Internet is the vital link that will help the area prosper economically, regardless of how people travel — whether by highway, rail or air — to reach the region.
The highly successful entrepreneur also warned, “The terror of the (four-lane) highway is not the people who will drive past (your business or community), but the people of the local community who will leave and buy elsewhere.

Just think about it: Who or what are you most threatened by? How can you work “with” this threatening entitity to improve your services or products?

The Grand Canyon

Edges are formed by nature. Even rock, the foundation of the earth yields itself to the forces and pressures that created it. The earth is not perfectly smooth. As I get on my knees and pull apart the grass I can see the changes in elevation and the grooves and cracks in the earth that are essential for growth. No seed can fall on perfectly flat earth and grow. The cracked landscape of the desert is necessary to the survival of many creatures who seek out pockets of cool water, hide from the suns scorching rays, and evade predators. Even larger cracks, scars and edges draw visitors from all over the world to marvel at their beauty; Niagara Falls, Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains. I am willing to admire the potential in these faults, but much less receptive to accept the fractures that want to spring forth new growth in me, the fingerprints which illustrate my personal leadership potential.

Ah to be rigid and unchangeable. Strong… powerful… fearless… Just like everyone wants me to be; so that I will not surprise them with new stories, new directions, new dimensions of growth. I can fill those cracks and pretend to be the perfect leader or I can look at my edges and choose to go down inside to search out my essential being. What riches await as my body, mind and soul continually unfold in new patterns like the ever changing spiral DNA that is everything.

Although the edges look scarred, painful and in need of attention, this is the nature of my leadership journey. These edges are normal. The deepest crevasse can lead to the greatest personal and/or professional development. Many times in my life the most frightening events have lead to the greatest growth, healing and renewal.

Cracks do not just appear on the surface, they are channels that run right to my soul. To cover them up with plaster my make them look fine but he underlying structure or foundation will be weak. Sooner of later the plaster will crumble as crystal seeds of passion try to break out of the prison of my defensive personality. The edge is not about destruction, fear, or judgment. It is about love, healing, forgiveness and growth. Cleaning out the clutter that fills in the cracks and makes me feel whole is necessary spring-cleaning. Sometimes, headaches, illness and addictions like alcohol, food or television mask opportunities to grow. How am I filling them, ignoring them, hiding them, covering my rough edges so that no one can see? How do personal challenges impact my relationship with others?

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I can help others who work with me transform their fault lines into opportunities for awareness and growth, but I can only do this when I know the landscape of my own pain, my own struggles, through ruthless self examination. Being an archeologist or spelunker, I carefully explore for hidden treasures. Them I can empower others on my team, as a tour guide, bridge person. As I carefully scrape away the makeup and get to know my true self, I marvel at the naturally carved nuances that make me the unique boundless person I have always wished to become, not knowing or understanding that I am already that spiraling, wonderful piece of continually changing creation manifesting greatness even in my perceived weakness. Through the eyes of the leader within, I am the Grand Canyon.

Just think about it: What personal fault lines do you have in your life? Are you being called to appreciate and use them in a new way?