Team Building and Mindfulness

mindfulness-Mindfulness is a very nebulous term and one that many people are confused as to exactly what it means. I do not claim to be a mindfulness expert, but I will share with you my thoughts on the subject as it relates to leadership and team development.

In short, mindfulness is about being aware of the world around you. The good, the bad, the pressures, the stressors, the people and the events around you and how you interact and respond to this world.

In my mind mindfulness can be equated to conscious competence. In all that we do we can interact in one of four ways; unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence.

Unconscious incompetence is the beginner’s experience. One in which you are so novice you do not know good from bad and right from wrong. As you navigate your way in this new world, and your eye’s and your mind are open you begin to learn and this is when you become consciously incompetent.

Conscious incompetence is a world of learning. It is not a place you want to stay for long, but it is an important place and one full of lessons. In this state you become aware of what you know and what you do not know. What you need to learn and who you need to learn it from. You become a sponge and soak in everything around you. As you pass through this state you move into the realm of conscious competence.

In conscious competence you are hyper aware of everything around you. Your eye’s, ears, and mind are open. Every task is a challenge to be met and you meet it head on. You consider all aspects of what is around you, your goals, your skills, your resources and you build a very deliberate plan for success. You become focused.

Lastly is unconscious competence. The panicle of learning and evolution. The term unconscious is applied because you are not consciously thinking, you are just doing. Your collective memory takes over and you fly on automatic pilot. This state has its applications and its pros and cons and in most instances I would say it is not a place one wants to operate in a team and business environment. Unconscious incompetence implies not deliberate thought. It is a place where you act from habit using what has worked for you in the past.

The idea behind mindfulness is to place yourself in a state of conscious competence where you are aware of all that is around you and how you and others influence events and one another. What you want to do is to knock yourself out of your unconscious competence state and become hyper aware of all of the nuances of all that is around you.

It is often said that to be mindful you should focus on: being non-judgmental, being patient, having a beginners mind, being trustful, not striving, being accepting, letting go, and being generous.

To accomplish this one often starts by learning how to shut out the noise and distractions that are constantly around us. You want to block out the unwanted, energize your powers, and open your mind. This puts you in a place when you can perform at your best and deal with pressures, stress, and challenges the best.

In the Summit Team Building Deliberate Success model we refer to this as reflection and one way many people achieve this is through meditation.

Many people do not think meditation is for them, but that is often because they have a narrow view of what meditation is. Many of us see meditation in its traditional form. The yogi or monk sitting on a mountain top, legs crossed and arms held out in a peaceful stance. They stay like this for hours and even days. Not talking and not thinking. Just being. While this is a form of meditation, the goal of meditation is really just to clear your mind and to become aware of all that is around you.

For our purposes we will ask you to give meditation a try as a way of leading you to mindfulness. You do not need to climb a mountain or go to your closest Buddhist Monastery. All you need to do is find a quiet place. This may be at home before the chaos of the day takes over or it may be at your desk during a break. Some even do it while going for a walk. You do not need to do this for an hour or two. Fifteen or even ten minutes will do. Shut out all distractions and just focus on your breathing. As your mind wanders to other things, bring it back and just focus on your breathing. You will no doubt struggle at this, buy do not beat yourself up and abandon the challenge. It may take you weeks to get to the point where you can sit still for ten minutes and just clear your mind.

Now you may be asking how this is related to mindfulness. Well, in order to be mindful you need to learn how to control your mind. Our mind is an immensely powerful tool and one that most frequently controls us. We act in what we believe is an unconsciously competent state, but without knowing it we sometimes are actually being unconsciously incompetent. When we are aware of our mind, our thoughts, our feeling, and the people, events, and interactions around us we are in a better place to choose the right course of action. The right words or the right emotional response.

Spring is here. Get outside and Team Build!

Team Building Outside!If you’ve been feeling a little cooped up by a winter that has overstayed its welcome, you are probably not alone. It’s highly likely that your co-workers are also feeling a little negative, stressed and unfocused. Maybe what you all need is an attitude – and health – boost provided by Mother Nature and Summit Team Building. And, the science is behind you on this one:

There has been a lot of study and talk around the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outdoors. A study[i] from the University of Michigan linked enhanced mental health and positivity to ‘group’ nature walks … in other words, spending some active time with others in a pleasing natural setting pays off.

  •  Another study published in Psychological Science[ii] found that interaction with nature gives your brain a break from the over stimulation of everyday work and helps to restore attention levels and focus. It’s like a super break!
  •  And how about recharging the immune system? Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School found that women who spent 6 hours in the woods over 2 days had an increase in virus- and tumour-fighting white blood cells that lasted at least a week[iii]. Fewer sick days? That can’t be bad!
  •  There are clear benefits to using the outdoors to boost teamwork and productivity but not everyone is comfortable organizing an outdoor team event. This is where Summit Team Building and our venue partners can help. We can suggest a lightly active and highly engaging program suited to your needs. And, we’ll find that perfect venue – one that offers inspiring outdoor spaces as well as foul-weather alternatives (just in case).

Some of our favourite outdoor-friendly program choices are:

  •  Blue Mountain Invitational. This putting based program takes place on the spectacular Blue Mountain Cascade putting course. Each hole will present a different challenge for your team and teamwork, communication, collaboration, communication and trust will be critical for success. Lots of easy take away to apply to work related development as a team.
  • Survive or Thrive. What is it that makes some teams thrive while others merely survive? This indoor or outdoor based team building event will present your team with multiple challenges that will require teamwork and learning for success. A competitive theme and a philanthropic bonus make this a great choice for any team.
  • Play it Forward and Blue Mountain Quest. These ‘Amazing Race’ style events will challenge your team’s problem-solving abilities, refresh the brain and really get them out exploring the locale. Play it Forward has a great philanthropic addition and take on the Blue Mountain Adventure Quest to kick your team building program up a notch.
  • The Rescuers. Is there a better example of high performing teamwork than search and rescue? Your team learns to collaborate as they deploy diverse skill and knowledge sets to achieve a common goal.
  • Reaching New Heights. Trust and team cohesion grow rapidly as people experience ‘what is possible’ when they fully support one another on one of our high ropes courses. Truly inspiring.

Of course, most of our programs can be fully or partially adapted for the great outdoors. For more about Summit Team Building programs and our partner venues, please check our website ( or give us a call at 1-800-685-5278. We will get you on your way to a healthier, happier and more productive team.