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.

“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.

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?

Change: It’s Such A Pain!

Why do people change? It’s a simple question, with a plethora of possible answers, such as:

People change because it’s good for them… They change because they’re forced to… They change because it’s just time… They change for the sake of variety…

The Monk and The Tiger

The other day, I was re-reading one of my favorite inspirational books, Sylvia Boorstein’s short and pithy “It’s Easier Than You Think“, and came across this famous parable:

“A monk was being chased by a tiger toward the edge of a cliff. He leaps off the cliff, grasping a vine that has grown over the edge. Below him is a long drop to certain death, above him is the snarling tiger.

Off to See the Wizard

Kyoto, Japan circa 1986, and there I was — standing at the ancient gates of Tofukuji monastery — eagerly attempting to meet the wizard.

In truth, Fukushima Roshi is no sorcerer, nor is Tofukuji the Emerald City. But the Abbot of Tofukuji temple is certainly “wizardly” in his sense of calm, equanimity, and spiritual development…or so I had heard. My college classmate, Tim Armacost — a Zen Buddhist and old Japan hand — was the one who had initially insisted I drop in on the Roshi when touring Japan’s imperial city.

“You have to go visit the Roshi. He may not change your life, but then again, he just might.”

Should Games be More (or Less) Competitive

There’s a popular social movement in schools these days, compelling teachers and coaches to minimize competition on the playground while increasing collaboration. It’s gone so far that one school I heard about even removed the scoreboard from their high school football field, insisting that keeping score put too much pressure on the students and inflated the competitive element, reducing self-esteem.