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Archive for the ‘How To’ 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.

 ==========================
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

 

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

RESOLVE

In Alignment, Coaching, Conflict Resolution, How To, Leave Your Comfort Zone, time management, Toastmasters on December 30, 2014 at 6:37 pm
"You may be whatever you resolve to be." -- Thomas Jonathan Jackson

“You may be whatever you resolve to be.” — Thomas Jonathan Jackson

This is the time of year when many folks are on vacation or they check into work only to realize that their colleagues are still on vacation. So what does one do when the real work, the  collaborative team work cannot be done?

Well, you may decide to dive into that project that only you can do when you’re not interrupted by others. Or, you might pull out a clean sheet of paper and create a list under a title or scribble called:
New Years Resolutions,
Resolve in 2015,
Goals for the New Year, or (simply)
TO DO.

Those who go about making up their minds in a well-researched and organized way, one might GOOGLE the terms: resolutions or goal-setting just to see what’s trending. Nearly every news agency or media house has a feature story entitled “the top ten ____ for 2015” or (if they have one-half the space) “five secrets to success in the new year.”

The persistent folks among us might pull out their list from last year, assuming that they’ve kept these lists and haven’t yet crossed off all that was imagined last winter. 2015 will become an extension of 2014. Alternatively, that which didn’t get done last year may never get done and new obsessions will likely replace old fixations on how to perfect ourselves via healthier choices, stronger relationships, or an uncluttered house.

Regardless the category of people you best relate to, do yourself a favor and try to keep your list short and sweet. You are more likely to accomplish your goals if they are few in number and you can focus your attention and energy on completing one, two, or no more than three goals.

Success in the new year may be based on early victories and creating good habits. And who says that we have to start our year with such lists? Why not pause every couple of months to check on our progress, re-evaluate the costs/benefits of accomplishing these projects, and perhaps start anew.

Resolutions are like plans. It is not the resolution or the plan that’s important but the resolve you bring to your daily planning that ultimately pays off.

__________________________________

Additional helpful / interesting websites:

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New-Years-Resolutions.shtml … for those looking to the US government for advice on making their resolutions

http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/holidays/tp/resolutions.htm … for my fellow Pittsburgh Steelers fans looking for guidance on what to do between playoff games

https://mediacenter.toastmasters.org/2014-12-10-Toastmasters-International-Lists-7-Most-Buzzworthy-Speeches-of-2014 … for my Toastmaster friends and those who enjoy reviewing lists of accomplishments from the past year

Arrrrgh! Why this fascination with being a Pirate?

In Active Learning, Cartooning, Communication, Conflict Resolution, facilitation skills, How To, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Tall Tales on September 17, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Edward_Low_Flag

Arrrrgh! Why this fascination with being a Pirate? Simply put, September 19th marks a fun-filled (and unofficial) holiday. To learn more about how to talk like a pirate visit http://www.talklikeapirate.com/piratehome.html

I saw my first major league baseball game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Fingers (and bats) are crossed that they make it to the playoffs this year.

I saw my first major league baseball game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Fingers (and bats) are crossed that they make it to the playoffs this year.

A JPG-version of this document is also available for my facilitator colleagues. See fight-flee-flow (below)

A JPG-version of this document is also available for my facilitator colleagues. See fight-flee-flow (below)

fight-flee-flow <– Click here for a PDF-version of this Jack Sparrow-inspired poster.

The 3rd Way

In Active Learning, Aikido, Cartooning, Conflict Resolution, How To, leadership, Toastmasters on June 22, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Here are the handouts I promised …

One page summary of my “doodles” … The 3rd Way

One page list of “thorny situations” … Thorny_Problems

Copy of the slide deck I never used but said that I’d share from the 2-hour workshop on CONFLICT RESOLUTION give to the Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network a few years ago that contains more detail as well as a helpful bibliography … Conflict Resolution-MAFN OnLine-Feb10

For those who still need to attend training, more information can be found at …
http://www.d29tm.org/education-training/TLI—Leadership-Institute

Sumo = Force on Force ... Aikido = Going with the flow

Sumo = Force on Force … Aikido = Going with the flow

We can fight, flee, or go w/ the flow. This illustration depicts the 3rd way to resolve conflict.

We can fight, flee, or go w/ the flow. This illustration depicts the 3rd way to resolve conflict.

Stay calm and make your bed

In How To, leadership, sharpen the saw on May 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm
Good advice.

Good advice.

Here’s an extraordinarily good commencement address.

http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/05/16/admiral-mcraven-commencement-speech/

Enjoy. And don’t forget to make you bed tomorrow morning.

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.

Try, try, again!

In elbow grease, How To, leadership, Leave Your Comfort Zone on April 24, 2014 at 5:19 pm

When life knocks you down,
stand back up and keep trying.
Never, ever, quit.

Never, ever, quit.

Never, ever, quit.

Sticks, Hoops, and a Little Rope

In Active Learning, Confidence Course Facilitator, High Ropes Course, How To, Leave Your Comfort Zone, teamwork on April 15, 2014 at 7:17 pm

While attending the International Association of Facilitators North American Conference, I had the privilege to lead a workshop entitled: “It’s Like Riding a Bike.” This workshop focused on the importance and value of experiential learning and of designing icebreaker & energizer exercises with a purpose. Here are images from that workshop, offered in fulfillment of the promise I made to all who attended on Saturday, April 12, 2014, to share these posters and my handout in electronic form.

Fig 1 - It's Like Riding a Bike ... This poster was displayed at the entrance to our conference room.

Fig 1 – It’s Like Riding a Bike … This poster was displayed at the entrance to our conference room.

Fig 2 - Topographic Map which served as our  Agenda

Fig 2 – Topographic Map which served as our Agenda

Fig 3 - Get Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Learn)

Fig 3 – Get Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Learn)

Fig 4 - One can climb an Alpine Tower at The EDGE

Fig 4 – One can climb an Alpine Tower at The EDGE

Fig 5 - Elements of a Full Value Commitment

Fig 5 – Elements of a Full Value Commitment

Fig 6 - Challenge by Choice

Fig 6 – Challenge by Choice

Fig 7 - Reinforce 'Challenge by Choice' via a Call and Response

Fig 7 – Reinforce ‘Challenge by Choice’ via a Call and Response

Fig 8 - 'Expedition Thinking' serves as a useful analogy for many teams and groups

Fig 8 – ‘Expedition Thinking’ serves as a useful analogy for many teams and groups

Fig 9 - Don't Forget the Refreshments

Fig 9 – Don’t Forget the Refreshments

Fig 10 - ItsLikeRidingaBike (Handout)

Fig 10 – ItsLikeRidingaBike (Handout)

ItsLikeRidingaBike <= Handout as a PDF-document.

NOTE: Anyone wishing more information about the six team-building activities we did using those STICKS, HOOPS, and a little ROPE should leave a comment here or e-mail John@JohnLesko.Biz

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Sticks, hoops, and some rope;
simple tools needed for growth.
Experience it.

Start pedaling

In Active Learning, Confidence Course Facilitator, Current Events, facilitation skills, High Ropes Course, How To on April 12, 2014 at 5:43 pm

It’s like a bike ride. | You never really forget. | Just start pedaling.

image

Hosted a wonderfully productive workshop at the IAFNA 2014 conference. A good time was had by all. And the course evaluations were flattering. Hmmm … Perhaps I should repeat this at MAFN or out at the EDGE.