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Archive for the ‘Aha!’ Category

What does it take to re-light your fire?

In Aha!, How To, leadership on January 24, 2017 at 6:51 pm
"Come on baby, light my fire." Okay, some of you may now have an 'ear bug' that'll pleasantly haunt you for the rest of the day. But seriously now ...

“Come on baby, light my fire.” Okay, some of you may now have an ‘ear bug’ that’ll pleasantly haunt you for the rest of the day. But seriously now …

Q: What does it take to re-light your fire?

A: Some may claim that “it only takes a spark.”

Others in the know may add the caveat: so long as the kindling is dry, you’re protected from the wind, you’ve a ready source of fuel handy, and/or you know how to create that spark in the first place.

As a certified professional facilitator and leadership coach, I have opportunities to meet and assist teams and leaders from many walks of life. Luckily, many still have had experience with starting a camp fire, lighting a wood stove, or burning a log in their fireplace. Sadly, too many rely on modern conveniences that today’s “glampers” enjoy or they just flip a switch and the natural gas flows into their family room or den.

I hope by know you’ve figured out that this blog article isn’t actually about your outdoorsy skills.

Yep, it’s a metaphor. So what does it take to re-light your personal or professional fire?

What fuels your passion for excellence?

What people do you enlist to bring you kindling or more fuel?

Who’s looking out for you organizationally speaking to “block the wind” or run interference from some unforeseen “storm.”

It may only take a spark, but it’s also a good time to take stock of your fuel supply and know how.

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Remote associations include but are not limited to the following:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deB_u-to-IE ==> “Light My Fire” by The Doors
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J91ti_MpdHA ==> “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys

 

Be Prepared

In Active Learning, Aha!, Confidence Course Facilitator, CPR and First Aid, Epiphanies, Leave Your Comfort Zone on September 14, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Long before Doomsday Preppers and the Disney’s movie The Lion King with its sinister lyrics to the song Be Prepared, there was Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship by Lord Baden-Powell. More recent television and movies based on the theme of preparedness include the 20 or so shows listed here: http://urbansurvivalsite.com/20-best-prepper-survivalist-shows-netflix/

What is it about our fascination with survival? Why do so many people worry about the so-called “End of Days” or why has the Center for Disease Control prepared with such vigor for a Zombie Apocalypse? The answer to these last two questions continues to evade me.

That said …

With a quick walk about my cabin, I found evidence for my own preparedness. Two examples …

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Yep, I must admit that I've found some interesting reading while preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Yep, I must admit that I’ve found some interesting reading while preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Recently I was called on to perform a “pick off” at the place where I work as a senior challenge course facilitator. Now before anyone gets upset or over reacts, the climber was unharmed and in fact wanted to immediately try again to climb our Alpine Tower. There were no cuts, no bruises, no harm, no foul — and this climber successfully re-climbed our tower to the first platform!

One more thing … I’m not posting this article today in pursuit of any congratulatory praise. My role in this incident was simply a part of my job — like a fireman who might climb a ladder to rescue a kitten from a tree. But we learn and re-learn from such drills. I know that I’m going back to work soon to inventory the gear that’s in that rescue bag.

Hmmm ... What should I grab from this rescue bag to perform a successful  "pick off?"

Hmmm … What should I grab from this rescue bag to perform a successful “pick off?”

Okay … I’ve delayed enough. Here’s the real reason for this post …

When you think of the motto: “Be Prepared,” what comes to mind? Are you someone who thinks through the various scenarios of your day mentally rehearsing your options and thinking about how you’d like to respond to the day’s challenges? When was the last time you checked the glovebox of your car for a first aid kit? When was the last time you inspected the fire extinguisher that’s under your kitchen sink for that stovetop fire should those fried chicken wings get a little too crispy on game day? And if someone were to choke on one of those wings — due to their food going down the wrong pipe after their favorite team scores a touchdown — do you know how to dislodge it? When was the last time you enrolled in a Red Cross First Aid course?

Today I invite you to take one small step toward preventing a future accident or incident. Restock your first aid kit that’s in the trunk of your car. Check the batteries that power your smoke and/or CO2 detectors in your house and home. Prepare a list of supplies that you’ll purchase before the start of autumn in preparation for winter. (Note: Buy now before the merchants artificially raise their prices for the pre-winter rush.)

Be prepared.

Anatomy of a Successful Workshop

In Active Learning, Aha!, facilitation skills, How To, Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network, Uncategorized on February 2, 2016 at 8:05 pm

When you think of the word anatomy what images, thoughts, or symbols come to mind?

Okay, now pull out a piece of paper or a sketch pad and ponder on this question. Brainstorm a bit. Work fast. And then when you think you’ve exhausted all possible ideas, pause for a moment and think of a few more connections to this word. To help get you started, please, consider these images.

... a visual kick start for your brainstorm

… a visual kick start for your brainstorm

Now imagine yourself swimming in symbolism — much like that frog before he/she met his/hers educationally-inspired demise.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a professional development workshop sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network (a.k.a., MAFN). This workshop was one of the very best I had ever attended since becoming a facilitator. But rather than just make this claim and assume that you’ll accept my opinion as fact, let me tell you why.

Imagine you’re in a lab-class: Anatomy & Physiology 301. Let’s examine the structure and internal workings of what makes for an outstanding workshop.

... cleverly designed handouts should facilitate your note taking and engage you without distracting you

… cleverly designed handouts should facilitate your note taking and engage you without distracting you from the speaker

Set the stage or prepare the operating room for use.

There’s usually time to settle into your learning space, greet a few of your colleagues, and perhaps introduce yourself to the workshop instructor/trainer. I highly recommend that you arrive a few minutes early to do just that. Gather up any handouts which are made available and review them so that you’ve a good grasp of what’s to be covered and in what order topics may be addressed.

When preparing a handout should you be the presenter, avoid designing a handout that’s jammed packed with text. Use “bullet lists” and leave enough white space for note taking and doodling. Bibliographies should list online references and are particularly helpful for those who want to “dive deep” and learn more.

Create a learning laboratory for hands-on, experiential engagement.

... learning occurs in a sequential and progressive fashion -- in steps: 1, 2, 3.

… learning occurs in a sequential and progressive fashion — in steps: 1, 2, 3.

It is not my intent to re-create the content or attempt to re-teach this workshop. Kudos to Rebecca Slocum who was the featured presenter at MAFN. The credit for the design and facilitative instruction at this event belongs to her. That said, look again at the photos above. Contemplate how our group learning evolved, step by step.

  • The workshop leader/instructor tells a story about being stuck in Iceland … This story doubles as a self-introduction and opens the door to being genuine and personable.
  • The instructor uses several decks of Visual Explorer Playing Cards … Having us draw one card face up (representing our approach to facilitation) and a 2nd card face down (the mystery card) … We are up on our feet and engaged early in the program.
  • We share our first card with our neighbors / table mates … This serves as a purposeful icebreaker with those who are in the room and learning with us.
  • The instructor shares more of her agenda/syllabus with us … Covering the THEORY that behind the PRACTICE of our experiential learning.
  • The 2nd card is flipped and now we are challenged to create meaning from this unknown image … We learn that symbolism works in several ways … In the example above, that flea or “bug” is something that trips me up while I’m a facilitator. It’s the “nit that must be picked” that detracts me or someone else in the group.
  • The instructor leads more discussion on WHY USE SYMBOLS, WHEN TO USE THEM, and HOW TO USE THEM … More group discussion follows.
  • We are asked to draw a 3rd card (face up) … This image is to explain how our practice as  facilitators or our professional behavior might evolve and change in the future … I aspire to take a bird’s eye view of future situations yet understand that I’m at the mercy of the winds.
  • A two-part case study follows … We are encouraged to take notes using a worksheet entitled: A Symbolic Framework … Our learning has been re-enforced.

Okay … I’m assuming that you’ve got the idea. Understanding the anatomy of a successful workshop helps guide us in the following ways:

  • Be welcoming and friendly … Tell a story that triggers everyone’s curiosity.
  • Engage your audience as soon as you can, early in the workshop, and before you dive into the “boring, academic” stuff.
  • Lay out the steps — 1, 2, 3 — and explain each step as you go so that folks don’t get lost while “dissecting their frog.”
  • Allow time for the participants to share their stories, feelings, and experiences.
  • Test or challenge the learners with some sort of direct application of what they’ve just learned. Think: case studies, completing a worksheet, …, creating an action plan, etc.

I hope this helps. Good luck!


PS: Think of a way to extend the learning or build a sense of community with your colleagues and potential clients. For example after the MAFN workshop described above, our members and guests gathered at a nearby restaurant for networking and a social. There were free appetizers and a cash bar. But there was also a structured activity called the NAME TAG ICEBREAKER which I’ve attempted to explain below in a doodle/sketch-note.

... a name tag can be used creatively to enable purposeful networking

… a name tag can be used creatively to enable purposeful networking

Toastmasters Leadership Institute Elective: “The Natural Life Cycle of Clubs: Tips for Successful Club Mentors and Club Coaches

In Active Learning, Aha!, Coaching, leadership, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Mentoring, Toastmasters on July 26, 2015 at 9:20 pm
All clubs progress along a natural growth pattern where there are opportunities for both club mentors and club coaches to assist others in achieving their goals.

All clubs progress along a natural growth pattern where there are opportunities for both club mentors and club coaches to assist others in achieving their goals.

Key concepts from this TLI elective were captured here by graphic facilitator John Lesko.

Key concepts from this TLI elective were captured here by graphic facilitator John Lesko.

Copies of the instructor’s notes and handouts follow in PDF format.

218G New Club Mentoring Matters

218F First Class Club Coach

Think outside, no box required.

In Aha!, Appalachian Trail, Epiphanies on June 2, 2015 at 5:19 pm

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” — John Muir

#WeAreTheWild
#DirtyDozenHikeChallenge
#IntoTheWoods

… These are just a few of the hashtags used by those who are participating in the “Dirty Dozen Hike Challenge” co-sponsored by The Wilderness Society and Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine. There’s little I need to say about this event. You can Google it and/or friend their Facebook page. But the best thing to do is to answer the call.

… Here are a few photos from my first five hikes. Enjoy.

Appalachian Trail marker at the north end of the Shenandoah National Park

Appalachian Trail marker at the north end of the Shenandoah National Park

Hiking into the woods along a blazed trail.

Hiking into the woods along a blazed trail.

Stream crossing along the AT.

Stream crossing along the AT.

Waysides and campsites are great places to stop.

Waysides and campsites are great places to stop.

If I were a bear, this might be a good place to rest.

If I were a bear, this might be a good place to rest.

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Some kind and generous soul left some mushrooms in a yellow bag.

Some kind and generous soul left some mushrooms in a yellow bag.

Occasionally you'll find a boardwalk that protects sensitive wetlands.

Occasionally you’ll find a boardwalk that protects sensitive wetlands.

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Jake the snake might have been stepped on by another hiker.

Jake the snake might have been stepped on by another hiker.

Inside view of a hut on the Appalachian Trail.

Inside view of a hut on the Appalachian Trail.

Just checking the map before heading south along the AT.

Just checking the map before heading south along the AT.

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Spectacular vista atop the Skyline Drive.

Spectacular vista atop the Skyline Drive.

Yep, I had to climb those rocks.

Yep, I had to climb those rocks.

I nice place for a quick, cold shower.

I nice place for a quick, cold shower.

My son and his girlfriend came along on a recent hike.

My son and his girlfriend came along on a recent hike.

My lovely wife joined us too.

My lovely wife joined us too.

I don't think you're supposed to eat these but they sure are colorful.

I don’t think you’re supposed to eat these but they sure are colorful.

Well maintained trails are everywhere.

Well maintained trails are everywhere.

The honeysuckle made for a sweet smelling hike.

The honeysuckle made for a sweet smelling hike.

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Stream crossing

Stream crossing

A view of the falls

A view of the falls

Stream crossing

Stream crossing

A great hike parallels the ridge line and climbs at a 'gentle' rate or slope.

A great hike parallels the ridge line and climbs at a ‘gentle’ rate or slope.

Interesting growth (fungi?) looks like cabbage

Interesting growth (fungi?) looks like cabbage

The Appalachian Trail can be quite peaceful when hiked during a weekday.

The Appalachian Trail can be quite peaceful when hiked during a weekday.

Deadwood serves at 'food' source for shell-like growth.

Deadwood serves at ‘food’ source for shell-like growth.

These flower-shaped growths are quite delicate and look like a bouquet of flowers actually.

These flower-shaped growths are quite delicate and look like a bouquet of flowers actually.

Toadstool sans toad.

Toadstool sans toad.

I wonder is this is a black truffle. Probably not.

I wonder is this is a black truffle. Probably not.

Slug on orange-red 'mushroom.'

Slug on orange-red ‘mushroom.’

This 'mushroom' reminded me of the dancing shrooms from Fantasia.

This ‘mushroom’ reminded me of the dancing shrooms from Fantasia.

There were large fields of ferns under the trees which looked like good places to camp along the AT.

There were large fields of ferns under the trees which looked like good places to camp along the AT.

You've got to love a well marked trail. These signposts are at nearly every crossroad.

You’ve got to love a well marked trail. These signposts are at nearly every crossroad.

Three perfectly shaped wild mushrooms. I wonder if this variety is edible. Perhaps I should do more homework before my next hike.

Three perfectly shaped wild mushrooms. I wonder if this variety is edible. Perhaps I should do more homework before my next hike.

This sign was near my turn around point for hike #7 and located where the AT crosses Skyline Drive.

This sign was near my turn around point for hike #7 and located where the AT crosses Skyline Drive.

Armed with a map and aided by these mile markers, one can easily estimate how much of your hike remains ahead of you and how much ground you've covered so far.

Armed with a map and aided by these mile markers, one can easily estimate how much of your hike remains ahead of you and how much ground you’ve covered so far.

By the end of the day, I figured that I'd live my walking stick behind for a future trekker.

By the end of the day, I figured that I’d live my walking stick behind for a future trekker.

Here’s to the Crazy Ones

In Aha!, Cartooning, Communication, Cool Ideas, Facilitating Genius, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Toastmasters on May 12, 2015 at 6:11 pm
Here's to the crazy ones. Some of whom are meeting together at the District 29 Spring Conference on May 16.

Here’s to the crazy ones. Some of whom are meeting together at the District 29 Spring Conference on May 16.

If at first you don't succeed, then try, try again.

If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again.

"I hope that we never lose sight of one thing. That it all was started by a mouse." - Walt Disney

“I hope that we never lose sight of one thing. That it all was started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney

What do Albert Einstein and Walt Disney have in common besides being two creative geniuses once featured by Apple in their “think different” campaign?

Consider their impact on the world and how they worked to re-create our view of it.

And if you’re in the Washington DC area on May 16th and would like to experience for yourself a potentially mind-altering event, then perhaps you might drop in to attend the Toastmasters International, District 29 Spring Conference. Conference details can be found here. <— Yes, please do click on the “here.”

And for a sneak peek at my slide deck which will be revealed on Saturday during the educational sessions, here your go!

Discover Your Genius at the D29 Spring Conference 2015. <– John Lesko’s slide deck.

 

 

Make time to clean, mend, and iron out life’s small problems

In Aha!, Aikido, Alignment, elbow grease, High Touch, sharpen the saw, time management on April 29, 2014 at 5:43 pm

The rain allows time
for mending, ironing, and
following the way.

It's time to mend this old gi and find again the pleats in this hakama.

It’s time to mend this old gi and find again the pleats in this hakama.

Cleaned, pressed, and folded as best I can remember how.

Cleaned, pressed, and folded as best I can remember how.

Got purpose?

In Aha!, Alignment, How To on April 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm
Our intentionality rules our actions and determines most outcomes.

Our intentionality rules our actions and determines most outcomes.

Do what you intend.
Think that you can and you will.
Think you can’t, you won’t.

Play Ball

In Aha!, Cool Ideas on April 26, 2014 at 4:07 pm
What if we play catch with an imaginary mass? Would it be possible to drop it?

What if we play catch with an imaginary mass? Would it be possible to drop it?

Let us play catch with
an imaginary mass.
Pass the energy.

Worldwide News: Diets are postponed for at least a week.

In Aha!, Cartooning, Current Events, Tall Tales on April 21, 2014 at 4:57 pm
And in world news ... Diets are postponed for at least a week after Easter.

And in world news … Diets are postponed for at least a week after Easter.

Easter Monday bears
a basket of chocolate.
Diets are postponed.