Choosing Your Lessons

I’ve always played sports — never particularly well, mind you — but I’ve always played something. In elementary school and junior high, I was all about football — that is, until the game graduated from flags to tackle, I stopped growing and everyone else started to loom over me. In high school, I took up tennis, made the school team, and lost *every* match I played against the country club set. (Okay, I lost to everyone else, too) As an adult, I got into ultimate frisbee, then biking, and most recently, volleyball. Like I said, I’ve never been an “A” level athlete, but I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of progressing from graceless beginner to competent, not-stumbling-too-badly intermediate. And that’s fine. I’ve never felt compelled to devote the 10,000 hours required to become really brilliant at a particular sport. I fancy myself more of a jack of all sports kind of guy.

But still there are times…times when I think, “I could really be good at this…”

Running on Empty

Trudging up the modest incline yesterday towards Spring Lake – huffing and puffing, chest tight, legs heavy as stones — I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this run is going to be a momentous struggle. To my utter dismay, this 50-year-old body of mine just isn’t responding the way it had on our last run, when my girlfriend and I had sped around the 6-mile course in Santa Rosa (CA)’s Howarth Park in record time, barely breaking a sweat. On this brisk, fall afternoon, however – red leaves lining our path and picking up the last golden light of the day – I am laboring significantly, my feet unable to lift much higher than a walnut. “This isn’t fair,” I say to myself. “Each of our previous runs over the last two months has been slightly better and measurably stronger than the one preceding it. And our last outing was the best yet. Effortless. So what’s the story today? What gives?”

James Bond, 007: Licensed to Improvise

Last Friday, I had a chance to watch the new James Bond film, “Skyfall”, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as the world’s smoothest super-spy. Don’t worry, 007 fans — I won’t give away the story! What I do want to share with you is my observations regarding the personality contrast between Bond and his nemesis in the movie: the evil Silva (Javier Bardem).

Choosing Clients the Old-Fashioned Way: Interview Them!

Scan the Web and you’ll find countless articles providing tips for fool-proof employee interviews, guaranteed to separate the wheat from the chaff, the gold nuggets from the pail of sand. Although fine for companies and organizations looking to bring on new staff (or new vendors), these articles fail to serve trainers and training companies, struggling (like employers) to decide with whom we want to work. That’s right; vendors have some say in the matter! Yes, the “customer is king” – but not every client who knocks on a trainer’s door should get a free pass to the throne room. The key is interviewing our potential clients before we sign that contract and lock in our services.

The 2012 Giants: World Champion Team- Building

Two days after my local baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, won the World Series (in a 4-game sweep over the Detroit Tigers), I’m still sitting at my desk, asking myself: How did they do it?

I mean, we’re not talking about the 1927 New York Yankees here. As a team competing for a championship, this year’s Giants team came into the playoffs with some serious flaws, namely:

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.

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.

“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.