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Leaps of Trust

According to Wikipedia“Team building is a collective term for various types of activities used to enhance social relations and define roles within teams, often involving collaborative tasks.”

The benefits include :

  • aligning around goals

  • building effective working relationships

  • reducing team members' role ambiguity

  • finding solutions to team problems

There are of course more benefits than that, such as building trust and confidence with our team and ourselves. Let’s face it, if trust is lacking with our co-workers we aren’t completely inspired to be our best. Most of us already feel a lack of trust in our own abilities with that annoying voice in our head second guessing us and filling our heads with negative input. Think about it for a second, really, stop and think about this...what would you be like, feel like if you trusted yourself, and if you knew others trusted you?

The difficulty comes in arriving at that place. How do we get there? How do we get to TRUST? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: “practice, practice, practice.”

That lack of trust we experience can feel like a massive brick wall stopping us from forward growth. And I speak from experience when I say that the best way to get out from that wall is to face it, find a door, window, nook or cranny, get through it and keep on going. Yet as I say that, I know firsthand that it is something that even I struggle with constantly. The thing is, we have to keep facing each brick wall. Some of those walls might be made out of impenetrable steel.

In our applied improv programs, we focus on teaching and building trust with our teams. We train players and people to “give your partner what they need to succeed” and “to have your partner’s back” and we mean it. The more we focus on their success the less we focus on our personal doubts.

During one of our ComedySportz matches, one young loyal fan volunteered to participate and then stage fright set in. I explained the game and what to expect hoping to calm her nerves. Then I whispered in her ear that I wasn’t very good at the particular game and it generally “scared” me. Perhaps that would work and she would focus more on my “fear” than her own. She then said to me “I’ll help you if you’ll help me.” Her performance was brilliant.

Ah, if it were only that easy. Right? Facing our fear and lack of trust in ourselves isn’t always that easy though. Sometimes we need the Wizard to give us Lion’s courage as we face that big dark fear and then take a leap of faith.

“If you're going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

A CSz Worldwide team participated in a ropes course team building event. The whole team spent the day collaborating on different activities. Two members of the team, Stacy, and Matt, who usually did not connect with each other bonded quickly that day as they shared a fear of heights. The last activity of the day was the “Leap of Faith.” The object was to leap off a very tall platform and grab a bar that was just out of reach. You would then fall, but with the safety of a harness, you would be lowered to the ground.

One by one the team members took the “Leap Of Faith” trying to grab the bar, yet coming up shy of the grasp and floating to the ground. Stacy began to cry and Matt consoled her. Matt was also scared yet focused on comforting Stacy. Matt never thought he could do it. Being a heavy guy he didn’t think he could climb the tree, or that either the platform or harness would support him. They made a pact that if one did it, the other would do it too.

It was Stacy’s turn. Supported by Matt and the rest of the team she climbed the tree and leapt. To her surprise, it was over and she had faced it. Now it was Matt’s turn. He was filled with dread and terror, yet he made the promise to Stacy. Matt began sobbing as he climbed and Stacy cheered on with support. By the time he reached the platform he became filled with dread and determination. He screamed before his leap while his entire team cheered for him below. Then, with a great leap of faith, he jumped and did what no other team member did that day. Matt grabbed the bar that was just out of reach.

Matt explains that that moment was a changing point for him. It was his breakthrough. He faced his biggest fear and now could trust himself. From that moment on he felt invincible and empowered! His improv improved tremendously as did many other aspects of his life. He lost 80 pounds, got in shape, approached tasks he never had attempted before and started believing in himself. Not only was he able to believe in himself, he now was able to trust that others would and could have his back.

What can you do today to improve teamwork? How will you practice “trust” today? How about turning off the voice in your head and “give your partner what they need to succeed”.

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