A Little Mood Music  – Just Push Play

Over the last ten years I have had the pleasure of delivering a heck of a lot of team building programs for Summit and I have learned a lot about things that can make or break a successful event.  One detail that we consistently get great feedback about is the playlist that we have going on during programs like Put Your Chef Hat On! Once our iPhone is cued up and we hit “play” you can literally feel the energy in the room grow. People start dancing, sometimes a little Karaoke breaks out.  Tone setting is critical in my world – get it wrong and you have a mess on your hands… get it right and magic happens. My music tastes fall pretty solidly into the Classic Rock category but I am open minded enough to know that some of the greatest toe-tapping ditties came both before and after that era. So, here are 5 tunes that I personally guarantee will lighten moods, bring smiles to faces and get people busting moves.  It would be impossible for me to rank these and I could list hundreds more… consider this a starter kit to your “Give Me Energy” playlist. 1. All the Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) by Beyonce. It is great when people start dancing – even our facilitators are not afraid to cut a rug sometimes…but not everyone is all that good at it (including me) and eventually you see some pretty awkward moves (including mine). This is not a bad thing though, it’s good to be able to laugh at ourselves and the bad dancing...

Everest 9 Year Anniversary

It is hard to believe it has been nine years since my summit of Mount Everest. Time sure flies when you are having fun. Even after nine years Everest still has a magical hold on me and a special place in my life. Everest has given me so much. I never imagined I would climb Everest one day. I knew as a climber that is was out of my league. However, as I gained more experience my comfort zone expanded and I thought that perhaps it was worthy of a try. After a failure on the 6th highest mountain in the world (Cho Oyu) in 2001 I put a lot of learning into future expeditions. Although I did not summit Cho Oyu, it became one of the greatest learning experiences of my life as failure often does (to those that are open to it anyway). We had failed due to a dysfunctional selfish team culture driven by an egocentric and abusive leader. We were not a team and we did not trust, support, communicate or collaborate with one another. Even though we had the skills, experience and fitness this was not enough to overcome the dysfunctional team environment and we failed miserably. After Cho Oyu, I applied my team and leadership learning to several other mountains and after many successes, I thought I was ready for Everest. In 2008 I went to Everest with my climbing buddy Angus and three others I did not know. We worked hard to build strong, trusting, supportive relationships because I knew that relationship was the foundation of a high-performance team. Our original plan...

Building Relationships With Team Building Activities

Here at Summit Team Building we always say that relationship is the foundation of any high-performance team. After all, we don’t do things for each other because we have to, but rather because we want to. So the key is to build a team of people that know, understand, trust, and support one another. This cannot happen virtually and takes time and many interactions. This is why the company dinner, the company picnic and other company events are so important. As a leader, you need to look at formal and informal team building strategies to build your team. The dinner, team picnic, bowling and other similar events are informal team building and help to reinforce relationships. The formal team building takes place in professionally run team building workshops or training sessions. It is in these facilitated sessions that team members truly begin to understand one another’s motivators, as well as their communication, problem-solving, and decision-making styles to name but a few things. Therefore, as a leader, you need to build in a mix of team building opportunities throughout the year. Some formal and some informal.  Team building activities are a simple way for people to build positive relationships in the workplace. In carefully-structured team building activities, people share success, have fun, and begin (or continue) to build a common, positive history together. They connect with each other. Team building activities don’t need to be sophisticated … and certainly shouldn’t be hockey … but they must promote positive social interaction and be satisfying for the participants while keeping them in an emotionally “safe place”. Keeping it emotionally safe is what...

Failure Is A Great Teacher – Part 2

In the previous blog, I wrote about the power of failure to be an amazing teacher provided your mind, heart and eyes are open to the lessons available. Failure often produces very strong and not always favourable emotions. These emotions can block our ability to learn from failure. As a result one of the first steps in learning from failure is to give yourself some time for the emotions to stabilise. Then you can examine the event in depth and pluck out the learning and the applications to future challenges. This takes a certain level of emotional intelligence to accomplish. This learning process is what is called the Experiential Learning Cycle. This method of learning involves three basic steps. Experience, Analysis, and Application. In order for there to be learning there needs to be an event or an experience. This can be something you were personally involved in, something you observed, or event something you read about. Next, you need to analyse what took place and look for the learning. Bring in relevant models and research to help you see clearly and make your own conclusions as it relates to your goals and challenges. Lastly, you need to figure out how to apply what you have learned in a practical and realistic way. You can follow the simple steps of What, So What and Now What. As you may recall from my last blog I had failed to climb one of the world’s tallest mountains. Well, it was not just me, but it was my entire team of highly experienced mountaineer partners. Partner and team are not really the...

Failure Is A Great Teacher – Part 1

When looking for advice on building high performance we often look to successful people, successful events, and successful companies. However, don’t overlook the study of failure as this can be a great teacher. Obviously, it can teach us what not to do, but with analysis and contemplation, we can develop positive strategies from what happened. One of my greatest learning opportunities was during an expedition to climb one of the world’s tallest mountains. The expedition environment, as I say in my keynote presentations, is a very rich learning environment provided that your eyes and mind are open to see it. When I was climbing Everest there was a researcher from Harvard sharing our basecamp. He was conducting a study for NASA on conflict resolution techniques to be used with astronauts on the International Space Station. The theory was that high altitude climbers live in a similar world to astronauts on the ISS. High altitude expeditions are filled with danger, complexity, strong and often ego-driven personalities, intense pressure and stress and constant change. It is difficult to study astronauts, but climbers are more accessible. By observing these climbers and interviewing them they were digging into human behaviour in this unique environment and taking stock of what worked and what did not work when conflict arose. My story of learning from conflict comes from a mountain not far from Everest. It is one of the 14 mountains in the world above 8000m and climbing it requires entering the accurately named “Death Zone”. A dramatic title for sure, but it is exactly what it says it is. If you venture into the...