The Power of Choice

There once was a knight of the Round Table who met a beautiful woman — fair of skin with long, raven hair — and took her to court to marry her. Little did the knight know that his bride-to-be was bewitched by a terrible spell, cast upon her by an evil sorcerer. According to the spell, the woman could only remain beautiful for 12 hours a day. For the other half of the day, she transformed into an ugly crone, with greenish skin, yellow boils and hooked claws for fingernails. Interestingly, the spell had some significant flexibility.

A Face in the Crowd

The other day while looking up something on Wikipedia, I was greeted by a prominent note at the top of the page asking me for a mere $3.00 donation to fund the website’s ongoing efforts. Wikipedia is an amazing, volunteer service, right – the modern equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary? What’s $3.00 to me, really? Without more thought, I clicked on the PayPal button and made my donation.

Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about crowd sourcing and its relationship to teambuilding.

The Drama Triangle, Redux

From time time over the years, I’ve given periodic shout-outs to my friend up in British Columbia, Gary Harper, and his terrific little book: The Joy of Conflict Resolution. If you work in a team and wonder why ‘s always so much “drama” in your group, I highly recommend you give Gary’s book a look-see.

Going, Going… Lagaan

When thinking about fun ways to spend an evening, I’m guessing very few people say to themselves, “You know, tonight I’d sure like to watch a 4-hour historical epic about cricket—with lots of Bollywood dancing.” And yet, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting, especially if we’re talking about Aamir Khan’s lavish 2001 spectacle, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. Never heard of it before? That’s not surprising. Outside of the Indian community, Bollywood films rarely receive the respect they deserve – particularly when a movie aspires to be more than a gushy, song-and-dance entertainment. Lagaan is much, much more than that: a big, open-hearted, adventure tale that is one of the best teambuilding stories you’re ever going to encounter.

“I’ve Got Your Back”

I watch a lot of action and sci-fi movies, and inevitably there’s a scene where the hero, preparing to rush into a gun fight, turns to his right-hand man (or woman, or Droid) and says, “You cover me”.

On the silver screen, this is a great “trust moment” for the protagonist — yes, they’re the one playing the hero and rushing selflessly into the line of fire, BUT they also realize that they can’t do it all alone; they acknowledge that, to succeed, they’ll needed a trusted teammate to “have their back”.

What is Success?

If you’ve ever watched “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (and who hasn’t?), you know that Indiana Jones doesn’t really have a choice; he must find the Ark of the Covenant (with all its mysterious power) before the bad guys or leave the entire world at dire risk. For Indy, it’s all or nothing, a one-way trip — save the world or bust. There can be no partial success.

Are You a Wizard or a Muggle?

I was rereading the first book in the Harry Potter series the other day and got to pondering: What makes J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world so compelling? I think it’s the fact that the author has created this whole secret universe, furtively co-existing alongside our own mundane, non-magic “Muggle” reality. By joining Harry, Hermione and Ron on their adventures at Hogwarts, we become privy to a wondrous, clandestine world, concealed to most and revealed to only a privileged few.

“The Way” to Build Team Trust

A few days back I watched a fascinating movie on dvd, called The Way. Have you seen it? One of my go-to online resources, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com), describes the film’s plot as follows:

“A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El Camino de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself.”

Although the description makes the the story sound dry and depressing, the movie is anything but.

Does Motivation Through Penalty Really Work?

As you think over your life, which has motivated you the most: the promise of a reward or the threat of a penalty? This is a question I’ve been pondering a lot of late. Let’s say, for example, I set a goal for myself of exercising at least five times a week. I have two choices for motivating myself: I can 1) “incentivize” the process by giving myself a nice treat (let’s say a chocolate bar–yum!) upon each successful work out or 2) administer a stern, self-imposed penalty (perhaps liver and brussel sprouts for dinner–yuck!) for each failed exercise session. Which do you think is the least and the most effective?