The Energy Bus—team building program!

(Image by Marek Studzinski from Pixabay)

“Thoughts are magnetic. What you think you attract”.

(John Gordon)

Dictionary.com defines teambuilding as the action or process of causing a group of people to work together effectively as a team, especially by means of activities and events designed to increase motivation and promote cooperation.

I have always been a fan of conducting teambuilding activities throughout the years to keep teams focused and pulling in the same direction.  I have been fortunate to create teambuilding platforms at UCF and FSU to enhance our team dynamics and set us up to accomplish our work goals.  Teambuilding is a critical component to organizational success and is necessary to remind each team member how interconnected we are daily.

I have leveraged the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) at every stop I have made since I left the Air Force.  I find the MBTI an excellent way to understand team members’ communication style and allows us to adjust to how individuals prefer to communicate internally and externally.

My MBTI is ISTJ (Introverted/Sensing/Thinking/Judging) and is displayed on my desk to remind my team of my preferred communication style. Each team member gets a desk placard highlighting their MBTI to help them communicate with others and serves as a reminder we all have different preferences and work styles.  One is not better than the other, simply different.

I was introduced to Clifton Strengths while at UCF.  I was charged with building a teambuilding program for Career Center staff and Clifton Strengths provided us with a platform to build on the strengths of everyone on the team.  We reached out and hired a certified consultant to come in and work with us to learn how to maximize team strengths so we could grow the organization.  This was an eye-opening teambuilding experience for the group and has remained an integral tool for me when working to build my respective team dynamics.

Ice breaker activities are another great way to bring teams together and enhance socialization.  The ice breakers used do not have to be elaborate but should have an element of fun while the team learns more about each other.  The platform should enhance communication and help the team find ways to discover new things about teammates.

My latest teambuilding adventure was introduced to me by one of my new team members.  She found out I am a huge reader and shared a leadership book from her library with me.  I had never heard of the book but was intrigued by the concept after she explained the premise of the book.  The full title, The Energy Bus:  10 Rules to Fuel your Life, Work and Team is an international best seller and the author, Jon Gordon is sought by organizations to share his Energy Bus knowledge and help people continue to grow.  I watched several of his talks on YouTube to get a better understanding of his concept to determine if this was something I could utilize.  He has a ton of stuff on YouTube so recommend taking some time to explore his work to see how it can help you and your team move forward.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jon+gordon++

The book is an extremely easy read and reminds me of the classic, Who Moved My Cheese but in an actual work environment.  I was impressed with how his concepts could be applied to my current work situation as I had to find new and inventive ways to conduct teambuilding while maintaining physical distancing due to COVID-19.  Never imagined 6 months ago I would be able to implement teambuilding activities with team members in 8 different locations via virtual platforms.  I chose the Energy Bus because the 10 rules identified are easy to follow and fit where I wanted to take the team.  We must get creative with our work products now and needed them to understand we must pull in the same direction.

Leveraging the https://www.theenergybus.com/ site, I was able to send each team member a bus ticket to invite them onto my bus.  It felt funny generating the ticket, but it seemed to excite people when they received the invitation.  Most of the team reached out to ask if they needed to present their ticket at our scheduled teambuilding session.  It was not required but a lot of them had their ticket ready just in case.  😊

10 Rules for the Ride of Your Life

  1. You are the driver of the Bus
  2. Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction
  3. Fuel your ride with positive energy
  4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead
  5. Do not waste energy on those who do not get on your bus
  6. Post a sign that says “No Energy Vampires Allowed” on your bus
  7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride
  8. Love your passengers
  9. Drive with purpose
  10. Have fun and enjoy the ride

We were able to go through the 10 Rules and discuss the impact each had on our new team adventures.  I gave the team my view of the 10 Rules and how I planned to leverage each of them.  We went around the virtual room and had each team member provide their feedback on each rule and how they would incorporate the rule daily.  I was pleasantly surprised when one of my teammates asked if she could give a full rundown for ALL the rules.  She did a fantastic job summarizing each rule and how it would be incorporated in her daily interactions.  This set the tone for the rest of the teambuilding session and let me know we are heading in the right direction.

I am always looking for ways to get the team to the next level.  Will continue to research teambuilding activities but highly recommend The Energy Bus if you are looking for ways to bring a team together.

What teambuilding activities does your organization use?  How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your team’s ability to gel?

 “Your positive energy and vision must be greater than anyone’s and everyone’s negativity.  Your certainty must be greater than everyone’s doubt”.

(John Gordon)

Kayak Adventures

Decided to explore the Wacissa River today via Kayak.  Wanted to add a new adventure to my ‘Walk into the Future’ and did some research on local Kayak outfitters.  Discovered the Wacissa River Canoe and Kayak Rentals outfit was only a 20-minute drive from me and had very reasonable prices for their rental options.

The owners and staff were very friendly and had great knowledge of the Wacissa River and the multiple channels that branched off from the main river.  They outfitted me with a sit-on kayak, life vest, paddle, map and final instructions for my adventure.

Launching off was easy and the day on the river began with me exploring multiple local inlets close to the outfitters docks.  I realized it has been right at 4 years since I last kayaked so needed to get my balance and paddle rotations down again.  Took me about 10 minutes to get the hang of kayaking again and I was off.

There was a lot off overhead cover (shade) on the initial part of my adventure.  The outfitters also rent cabins that sit right on the river, so I rode by several of them on my way out to the open waters of the Wacissa river.  There were a few other kayakers out but not a lot of water traffic or noise during the time out on the water.

The wild life on the river was close by and amazing!  Saw several different type and shape turtles just hanging out and sunning themselves.  Of course, every time I tried to get close to take a picture, they immediately dove to get away from me.

It took about an hour of paddling the river before I spotted my first eagle.  Very impressive birds but when experienced in the wild they can be awe inspiring.  I was able to float for a bit and watch one have a large fish for lunch.  Got a couple pictures of this without disturbing the eagle or making it decide to dive bomb me.

What’s a kayak trip on a river in North Florida without gators?  Spotted my first one of the day swimming close to where I was observing my eagle friend.  Decided to paddle closer to the gator which was about 7 feet long to get some ‘up close’ photos.  This all made sense when I started paddling.  Luckily, I came to my senses before I got too close to the gator because I had no Plan B for what I would do if it took serious interest in me.  Decided to float a bit instead of heading towards the gator and freaking us both out.  I was able to get some pictures of smaller gators but didn’t linger too long to avoid disturbing them or freaking myself out.

Turning to head back in allowed me to fully take in how far I had traveled on the river without really thinking about distance.  Still didn’t worry about distance but rediscovered kayaking is a great way to burn some calories.  The rotational paddle motion needed to move the kayak will really work your arms, shoulders and core.  Didn’t rush to get back, simply enjoyed the river and the views provided as I came back to the outfitters.

Highly recommend getting out on a kayak or canoe and taking in a peaceful day on the river.

Just don’t disturb gators!

Check out my new friends if you want to kayak the Wacissa:  http://www.wacissarivercanoerentals.com/index.htm

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