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A to Z Media Goes Beyond Traditional Team Building

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Building a dream in the most literal sense, the creative gurus of A to Z Media came together to build three bicycles for three very special guests.

On a day that painted the pictures of a traditional team building experience, these individuals built much more than that.  With the foundation of their core beliefs and a destination of taking intentional actions, A to Z Media journeyed to discover and rediscover a company of legendary individuals.

Look around and you will witness a massive shift in consciousness and lifestyle.  We are currently at a global transformation in socially conscious ideas and actions.

From industrialization to interlinking technology we are are perhaps the most important shift yet.  One that shapes a community of individuals, teams, and organizations into mediums of positive and social change.

From this point, building teams, and individuals for that matter, is no longer blindfolds and trust falls but an emotional connection to something much larger – impacting the lives of others.

We are never truly aware of the ripple effects of our actions. Whether it is walking down the street or meeting a prospective client for a 10 o clock meeting, we only see a sliver of the impact we create.

This month, A to Z Media took actions to become a front runner in this global shift.  Instead of speaking in terms of productivity and creative outcomes, they spoke about unveiling the curtains to a world filled of extraordinary opportunities.  Of using their core beliefs as a map to navigate their current reality and taking authentic, intentional action to breakthrough to a new one.

But this day was far from all talk.  Splitting into team, each one was given a life changing product with a set of instructions on how to build it.  They spun around wrenches and twisted screwdrivers.  The outcome, a brand new bicycle.

There are certain things in our life we just don’t forget.  Our first kiss, our first car, and most certainly, our first bicycle.  Little did the participants of A to Z Media know, they were going to be witnessing a life-lasting memory, right then and there.

Three very special children for the local Boys and Girls walked through the elevator doors to receive these three new creations.  Theses children were in honors classes and each had a distinguished list of personal accomplishments.  This was no “gimme”. They had earned those bikes!

Our world is defined by the things we do and the choices we make.  A to Z Media chose to make a difference, and whether these very extraordinary individuals are aware of it or not, their actions that day created some very real and very significant ripple effects of change.  And that far from being a part of traditional team building, it is being legendary!

DeVry Builds 108 Bicycles and 108 Dreams

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What is a dream? The word gets tossed around in our day to day lives eluding to hopes and desires.  By its very definition, a dream is unreal, intangible, and breeches the realm of possibility.  It is a world of our creation, and yet on December 9, 2011, 620 participants of DeVry Inc. took a dream and turned it into a reality.

Lead by James Carter, Founder of Be Legendary, this group of extraordinary individuals uncovered the very essence of their legendary lives.  What we do and how we do it are motivated by the underlining belief of why.

Everything we do can be traced back to this basic question. And so on this not so ordinary Friday morning, each individual was challenged to think of and talk about the question of why.

With a seemingly ambiguous three word question, participants asked one another, “Who are you?” The answers were profound as people not only discovered the values of others, but also values of themselves.

“Imagine a golf green surrounded by water,” said James Carter.  “What are our initial thoughts?”

Voices from the crowded shouted, “Don’t hit the ball in the water!”

“Exactly!”, smiled James. “But what is it we really want?”

That question weaved through the conversation of the entire morning.  What is it you really want? Focusing in on the answer to that question is the most powerful tool any company, team, or individual can hold.

And so these 620 individuals focused on their next challenge –  build a product.  They broke off into teams, twisted screwdrivers, rotated wrenches, and began to see parts and pieces come together to create something magnificent, a bicycle.

Building 108 bicycles is quite impressive, but who was going to ride these newly assembled creations?  Participants turned to the back of the room where 108 children from Tangelo Park Elementary cheered and chanted as they piled through the doors of ballroom.

Theses children were in the accelerated reading program and had earned, what would be for some of them, their first bicycle!

And what was probably the most heartfelt part of the day was the stories that came from it.  A participant from DeVry shared how she didn’t have any children, how the smile on that child’s face lit up her world, and how when the children were getting ready to leave she got the biggest hug of appreciation.

A tear rolled down her face, as she shared her story, a story that will stay with her forever.

We at Be Legendary, never tire from seeing smiling faces, cheering crowds, and the transformation of a dream come true.

We were particularly excited about this event as we welcomed Kytka Hilmar-Jezek and her three remarkable children Zack, Zanna, and Zynnia to our legendary staff!

Focusing in on recreating a legendary world, the participants of  DeVry Inc. are living proof, that believing in dreams can create a working, living, and legendary reality.

Sole Purpose in New Jersey

Last week on a rainy Tuesday morning, 35 Novo Nordisk employees were gathering for a 2-hour team building event.  Ah, team building.  It can be like nails on a chalkboard.  Some people look at it as a break from their daily routine, while others look at it as a complete waste of time.  Together you get a group of people showing up with a filter of predispositions and a word that has ignited them all!

Little did they know, what they were actually going to be doing that day was much more experiential.  From the very beginning of this 2 hour escapade there was an immediate nose dive from the expected as participants were challenged to become aware of the small opportunities that surround them on a daily basis.

This limbo had only started as they played a little game we like to call “Who are you?” Participants were challenged to communicate in terms that bypass surface levels of communication and unveil the very core beliefs of who we are.  Not only was this a great discovery of the people that surround them on a day to day basis, but this was also a rediscovery of one’s self.

And just when you thought it could not get anymore profound, these 35 individuals were going to receive their greatest challenge yet.  Build sandals.

300 million people in this world do not own shoes.  We believe that number should be zero.  Putting the possibility of change in the hands of these Novo Nordisk employees, they, as teams, built sandals from recycled conveyer belts and nylon lace.

The sandals are designed to be extremely durable, so building them is no easy task.  The frustration set in, but it did not discourage anyone from completing their task. Why? Because the challenge that sat right in front of them was going to be on a child’s feet in a few weeks.  They were literally transforming the lives of others by transforming this challenge into a positive outcome.

By the end of the event 70 sandals had been assembled.  More importantly, the impact these participants created that day also created a touchstone to the awareness of the opportunities that surround us everyday.

What first may seem as a frustration, a challenge, or a problem, could very well be transformed into a means of radical impact.

What opportunities are surrounding you right now?

Sole Purpose

This past Thursday we brought our legendary intent to 900 very extraordinary SFL employees in Quebec City with the launching of our Sole Purpose event.  Partnering with Soles4Souls, we are taking a joint effort to get shoes to the 300 million inhabitants of developing countries who have no such luxury.  But instead of just shipping out a bunch of shoes, our goal was to empower people to make a difference.  To be the change creating a lasting impact.

What a day! This past Thursday we brought our legendary intent to 900 very extraordinary SFL employees in Quebec City with the launching of our Sole Purpose event.  Partnering with Soles4Souls, we are taking a joint effort to get shoes to the 300 million inhabitants of developing countries who have no such luxury.  But instead of just shipping out a bunch of shoes, our goal was to empower people to make a difference.  To be the change and create a lasting impact.

So we quite literally put the creation of impact in the hands of each SFL employee.  Walking into a room of tables and chairs, they gazed upon hundreds of transparent bags containing ambiguous pieces and parts.  Armed with their ingenuity and guided by a sheet of instructions, this group of people were going to construct sandals that were then going to be shipped off to children in third world countries.

Wow! Talk about impact.  These legendary people were assembling sandals with their own two hands, which, in a couple of weeks, were going to be on a child’s feet. Those very pair of sandals were going to vastly improve the life of another human being. The sandals that they made! Impact rarely comes more direct then that.

CEO of Repario and creator of Sole Purpose, James Carter, spoke to these truly special people before constructing the sandals.  Imagine a world filled with legendary people and legendary actions, that would surely be a world I would love to see.  But as impossible as it seems to you or me, this is the journey of James Carter, and the theme of what he talked about.  Control your awareness, command your beliefs, and harness your courage.  The three components of Be Legendary.  The beauty of it is, and what James spoke so passionately about, is you do not have to go out and find these ingredients, we already have them.  We just have to relearn how to make use of them!

If someone was to tell me I could be legendary I would definitely say, “no way, me legendary? Na-uh.”  But now if someone was to tell me I already am legendary, that would be a whole new perspective that I automatically look at with disbelief.  But James challenged these SFL employees to think of themselves in legendary ways.  Legendary was simply not reality to them, lets face it, it really isn’t to any of us, but our beliefs shape our reality. So it then comes down to – what do you choose to believe in?

Clearly this group of people believed in making a difference.  They assembled pieces, attached laces, helped others, and in the end, built a pair of sandals.  As the event dwindled down, something quite amazing happened.  We saw people walking around the tables gathering unassembled sandals.  They would come up to us and say, “Can I take these sandals that no one has used and build them to be sent out?” James and I just looked at each other, both knowing the same thing – this, was legendary.

And so our kick off Sole Purpose event went wonderfully.  To see people break from their limits simply by realizing that they can, is an astounding and inspiring site to see.  Every time it happens, it helps me break through a few of my own limits.

“Think of a list of legendary people in your life. Do they consider themselves legendary? Probably not. Regardless, they are legendary because you think they are. Oh, and by the way, you’re on someones legendary list too.” – James Carter.

Team Building Turns Ugly For School Board

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By James Carter

Did you see this article with the headline above?

If not, here is the gist:

TAMPA – A Hillsborough School Board training session erupted in accusations, scoldings and door slamming Tuesday as the group met to create a vision for the district.

Packed into a tiny conference room at Orange Grove Middle Magnet School, the board and superintendent met with a facilitator from the Florida School Boards Association to keep them focused.

The meeting had barely started with a discussion of “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” when the veneer cracked.

April Griffin, the newest board member elected in November, said she lacked trust – one of the five dysfunctions – and called board meetings “an orchestrated play” rather than an honest discussion.

She recalled the board’s negative reaction a week earlier at a televised board meeting when she questioned the process of appointing an administrator, not usually done in public.

The group devolved into finger pointing and blaming and ended with April leaving the meeting and vowing not to return to another voluntary ‘team building’ session.

Here is the link if you would like to read the entire story:
http://www.tbo.com/news/metro/MGB3177AX5F.html

While an amusing story we can all relate to, this is a great example of ‘team building’ wrong from the beginning.

First of all, are these people really a team? Do they share the same goal, or do they each have their own goal?

After all, a team is a group of individuals with a common goal. My guess is that each individual of that school board has their own agenda they were more attached to than the ‘team’ goal.

Certainly Pat Lencioni’s book, ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a team’, is a decent place to start. However, the error of the facilitator is that she used the wrong context. It is too personal. The group immediately showed a lack of trust amongst each other and began discussing the lack of trust in the context of their work on the school board.

This is where the use of ‘team building’ activities is important.

I can talk about my lack of trust in the context of a silly game and that I screwed it up for the group. But I cannot make the same admission of error with regard to my work! I have too much ego and pride involved.

Additionally, activities and games help us experience what we actually do versus what we know.  We all know how to communicate well, we just often use all the knowledge we have when we practice communication.

 

Through the use of activities, the group can talk about what went wrong and right, how they could improve the group process and then translate that learning back to their work on the school board.

Because activities and the facilitation of the discussion after the activity focuses on the process the group went through:

  • Did they communicate well?
  • Was there a lack of trust?
  • Did the group plan?
  • How well did leadership work?

All during the process. Then the process is translated back to work by the group, not the facilitator.

This leads us to the secondary issue — was this a training session or a facilitation? Training and facilitation are very different and require different skills. Training is learning a skill and facilitation is a group process though discussion. Perhaps it was the journalist who made the error.

But this second error is very common in our profession. Trainers are NOT facilitators. A good trainer may also be a good facilitator, but typically not. Educators and trainers are used to teaching — helping individuals learn something new. And they are focused on the learning outcome. This is very necessary in an educational setting, but not in a facilitation setting.

Facilitation is about the group and the group process. The group may learn something completely different than what the facilitator had planned. But that is the power of facilitation. The group will learn what is most important to them, NOT what the facilitator wants them to learn.

When you combine activities with professional facilitation, the outcomes are much more likely to produce positive results.

Beginning a small group discussion and immediately moving into personal issues is sure to bring out offense and defense in each one of us.