Kickstart Kilimanjaro

Amboseli_national park_back_drop_mount_kilimanjaro-tanzaniaThis July Summit President Scott Kress will lead a climb of Kilimanjaro. Scott has climbed Kilimanjaro two times previously and is keen to return. This climb is part of the Kickstart program at Medcan. This program is designed to kickstart a lifestyle change for those that need it and to promote fitness, healthy nutrition, and leading an active and healthy life.

In Scott’s opinion Kilimanjaro presents the perfect combination of factors for the novice climber; and this is why it is so popular. The Altitude of Kilimanjaro at 5895m (19,341ft) is high enough that it provides exposure to high altitude and the challenges that accompany this, but it is not so high as to be overly difficult or dangerous. There is no technical climbing involved so novice adventures can do it. The route is physically demanding so that when one makes it to the summit there is a real and justifiable sense of accomplishment and easy enough that most people can do it provided they have put in the training beforehand. And lastly beyond the dangers of high altitude sickness there are no real objective hazards on the mountain.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a study in ecology like few other places on earth. One starts in the low African plains and then as you climb higher you go through multiple eco zones essentially travelling from the plains to an arctic glaciated environment. The topography and the flora and fauna as you trek each day is spectacular and ever changing.

The keys to success on Kilimanjaro, although there is never any guarantee, are fitness and acclimatization.

Most people can acclimatize to the altitude of Kilimanjaro given the appropriate amount of time. Time is what your body needs to make the necessary physiological adjustments to the lower levels of available oxygen and the decrease in pressure. There are guiding companies offering 4 and 5 day climbs and I have a friend that did it in 48 hours, but for most people this would be asking for trouble. A 7-8 day trip is best for most people. This relaxed pace allows the body to adjust slowly and thus not revolt against a sudden change in altitude.IMG_4275

Fitness is relative for each person, but plan to be in the best shape of your life. You may not need this level of conditioning, but it is great to set as a goal and the better shape you are in the more you will enjoy the climb. Fitness does not influence how your body adapts to altitude, but it is pretty much a prerequisite for success.

All in all Kilimanjaro is a great experience. Prepare for it to be busy with other aspiring adventurers  and pack your patience as some sections of the trail may become congested.

If you are interested to join Scott on this climb please contact him through this website.

 

New Team Development Program – Engineered Strong

engineeredstrongSummit Team Building is excited to announce our newest Team Development program; Engineered Strong. Over the years we have heard from many project teams telling us about all the challenges they face regarding communication, decision making, accountability, conflict and more. Well, we listened and have developed a program specifically to help project teams form and to avoid many of the common challenges associated with partners from multiple teams, departments, and companies working together. This team development workshop is specifically designed to get project teams started on the right foot.

Most project teams are a diverse assembly of people from various departments and, frequently, different organizations. There is potential strength in this diversity of skills and perspectives if the team can tap into their members’ differences in a constructive way. However, there are great challenges in doing so. Stakeholders may have unclear roles and competing agendas and priorities. Leadership, accountability, meeting processes and communications are often unclear. Constructive differences can spiral into destructive conflicts and decisions can be painful or impossible. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Your project may have a small budget or one in the multi-millions. It may have a 3-month or 3-year timeline. However, if you invest in a solid team foundation with “Engineered Strong”, you will see the return when you need it most.

How it Works

At Summit we are team development specialists and have been helping teams form and perform for almost 20 years. We have engineered this workshop specifically for the complexity of diverse project teams.

The overall goal of the workshop is to help your project team develop and agree upon a common destination and a clear path forward. Throughout the workshop, team members develop patterns of successful interactions as they face challenges together. The fun and engaging challenges build relationships and highlight different team skills, such as trust-building, communications, decision-making, conflict management and change management. Mental models and tools are presented for each topic area. The group’s learning is carried forward as the workshop progresses so that they finish with a group charter and set of behavioral norms that are based on common experience and consensus.

Although there are common elements to each workshop, yours will be customized to meet the needs of your project team. The end product of the workshop is to have a team charter that defines the expectations and interaction norms for the team. Each team member will sign this document and it will be used throughout the project to guide all interactions throughout the project. Woven throughout the session will be various learning modules and experiential activities that make the session fun, engaging, insightful and educational for the participants.

The Results

By the end of the workshop, stakeholders will:

  • Have strong interpersonal relationships based on mutual trust
  • Be committed to the same goals
  • Share common expectations around leadership, roles, meetings, communication, decision making and conflict resolution.
  • Have tools, such as a Team Charter and a set of Norms, to hold one another accountable for their behaviours and actions.

Team Building and Mindfulness

mindfulness-Mindfulness is a very nebulous term and one that many people are confused as to exactly what it means. I do not claim to be a mindfulness expert, but I will share with you my thoughts on the subject as it relates to leadership and team development.

In short, mindfulness is about being aware of the world around you. The good, the bad, the pressures, the stressors, the people and the events around you and how you interact and respond to this world.

In my mind mindfulness can be equated to conscious competence. In all that we do we can interact in one of four ways; unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence.

Unconscious incompetence is the beginner’s experience. One in which you are so novice you do not know good from bad and right from wrong. As you navigate your way in this new world, and your eye’s and your mind are open you begin to learn and this is when you become consciously incompetent.

Conscious incompetence is a world of learning. It is not a place you want to stay for long, but it is an important place and one full of lessons. In this state you become aware of what you know and what you do not know. What you need to learn and who you need to learn it from. You become a sponge and soak in everything around you. As you pass through this state you move into the realm of conscious competence.

In conscious competence you are hyper aware of everything around you. Your eye’s, ears, and mind are open. Every task is a challenge to be met and you meet it head on. You consider all aspects of what is around you, your goals, your skills, your resources and you build a very deliberate plan for success. You become focused.

Lastly is unconscious competence. The panicle of learning and evolution. The term unconscious is applied because you are not consciously thinking, you are just doing. Your collective memory takes over and you fly on automatic pilot. This state has its applications and its pros and cons and in most instances I would say it is not a place one wants to operate in a team and business environment. Unconscious incompetence implies not deliberate thought. It is a place where you act from habit using what has worked for you in the past.

The idea behind mindfulness is to place yourself in a state of conscious competence where you are aware of all that is around you and how you and others influence events and one another. What you want to do is to knock yourself out of your unconscious competence state and become hyper aware of all of the nuances of all that is around you.

It is often said that to be mindful you should focus on: being non-judgmental, being patient, having a beginners mind, being trustful, not striving, being accepting, letting go, and being generous.

To accomplish this one often starts by learning how to shut out the noise and distractions that are constantly around us. You want to block out the unwanted, energize your powers, and open your mind. This puts you in a place when you can perform at your best and deal with pressures, stress, and challenges the best.

In the Summit Team Building Deliberate Success model we refer to this as reflection and one way many people achieve this is through meditation.

Many people do not think meditation is for them, but that is often because they have a narrow view of what meditation is. Many of us see meditation in its traditional form. The yogi or monk sitting on a mountain top, legs crossed and arms held out in a peaceful stance. They stay like this for hours and even days. Not talking and not thinking. Just being. While this is a form of meditation, the goal of meditation is really just to clear your mind and to become aware of all that is around you.

For our purposes we will ask you to give meditation a try as a way of leading you to mindfulness. You do not need to climb a mountain or go to your closest Buddhist Monastery. All you need to do is find a quiet place. This may be at home before the chaos of the day takes over or it may be at your desk during a break. Some even do it while going for a walk. You do not need to do this for an hour or two. Fifteen or even ten minutes will do. Shut out all distractions and just focus on your breathing. As your mind wanders to other things, bring it back and just focus on your breathing. You will no doubt struggle at this, buy do not beat yourself up and abandon the challenge. It may take you weeks to get to the point where you can sit still for ten minutes and just clear your mind.

Now you may be asking how this is related to mindfulness. Well, in order to be mindful you need to learn how to control your mind. Our mind is an immensely powerful tool and one that most frequently controls us. We act in what we believe is an unconsciously competent state, but without knowing it we sometimes are actually being unconsciously incompetent. When we are aware of our mind, our thoughts, our feeling, and the people, events, and interactions around us we are in a better place to choose the right course of action. The right words or the right emotional response.

Spring is here. Get outside and Team Build!

Team Building Outside!If you’ve been feeling a little cooped up by a winter that has overstayed its welcome, you are probably not alone. It’s highly likely that your co-workers are also feeling a little negative, stressed and unfocused. Maybe what you all need is an attitude – and health – boost provided by Mother Nature and Summit Team Building. And, the science is behind you on this one:

There has been a lot of study and talk around the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outdoors. A study[i] from the University of Michigan linked enhanced mental health and positivity to ‘group’ nature walks … in other words, spending some active time with others in a pleasing natural setting pays off.

  •  Another study published in Psychological Science[ii] found that interaction with nature gives your brain a break from the over stimulation of everyday work and helps to restore attention levels and focus. It’s like a super break!
  •  And how about recharging the immune system? Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School found that women who spent 6 hours in the woods over 2 days had an increase in virus- and tumour-fighting white blood cells that lasted at least a week[iii]. Fewer sick days? That can’t be bad!
  •  There are clear benefits to using the outdoors to boost teamwork and productivity but not everyone is comfortable organizing an outdoor team event. This is where Summit Team Building and our venue partners can help. We can suggest a lightly active and highly engaging program suited to your needs. And, we’ll find that perfect venue – one that offers inspiring outdoor spaces as well as foul-weather alternatives (just in case).

Some of our favourite outdoor-friendly program choices are:

  •  Blue Mountain Invitational. This putting based program takes place on the spectacular Blue Mountain Cascade putting course. Each hole will present a different challenge for your team and teamwork, communication, collaboration, communication and trust will be critical for success. Lots of easy take away to apply to work related development as a team.
  • Survive or Thrive. What is it that makes some teams thrive while others merely survive? This indoor or outdoor based team building event will present your team with multiple challenges that will require teamwork and learning for success. A competitive theme and a philanthropic bonus make this a great choice for any team.
  • Play it Forward and Blue Mountain Quest. These ‘Amazing Race’ style events will challenge your team’s problem-solving abilities, refresh the brain and really get them out exploring the locale. Play it Forward has a great philanthropic addition and take on the Blue Mountain Adventure Quest to kick your team building program up a notch.
  • The Rescuers. Is there a better example of high performing teamwork than search and rescue? Your team learns to collaborate as they deploy diverse skill and knowledge sets to achieve a common goal.
  • Reaching New Heights. Trust and team cohesion grow rapidly as people experience ‘what is possible’ when they fully support one another on one of our high ropes courses. Truly inspiring.

Of course, most of our programs can be fully or partially adapted for the great outdoors. For more about Summit Team Building programs and our partner venues, please check our website (www.summitteambuilding.com) or give us a call at 1-800-685-5278. We will get you on your way to a healthier, happier and more productive team.

[i] http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201409/walking-depression-and-beating-stress-outdoors-nature-group

[ii] http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jjonides/pdf/2008_2.pdf

[iii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18394317

 

 

 

 

Team Building Workshop

Scott Kress recently hosted a webinar about team building as a leader. The webinar titled “5 ideas in 15 minutes” can you seen here. Scott hosted this webinar as an introduction to a conference where he is a keynote speaker.

 

Team Building Training for Effective Meetings

shutterstock_174539273 td photo 1Meetings are a huge part of today’s work environment. Organizations are complex with many employees, specialized departments and project teams. It is impossible to keep it all on track without meetings. However, many meetings are less effective than they could be if you took a team building training approach.

Many of us plan, attend and facilitate meetings with little thought or planning. As Nike says you Just Do It. Chances are you are missing out on a lot of potential value at each meeting through lack of engagement and participation.

There are many ways to look at this challenge and in this blog, for the purposes of team building training, I will examine the meeting challenge through a personality lens. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of many psychometric tools available today and MBTI happens to be the world’s most popular. One of the dichotomies that is examined through the MBTI is the pairing of Introversion and Extraversion. Using an understanding of these two preferences can help you plan and lead a more effective meeting.

In a meeting you will usually hear from the extraverts even if you do not want to and you may never hear from the introverts. The key is to balance the energy of these two styles.

Extraverts tend to think as they talk whereas introverts process internally before sharing. Extraverts are usually comfortable and confident speaking in front of a group and introverts may be less inclined and less comfortable doing so.

A few strategies to bring out the best in both types…

When having a discussion in your meeting break into small groups and ask people to discuss the topic in this group first. This smaller group provides a more comfortable environment for the introverts and gives them space to think. Have one person take notes and elect a spokesperson for each group (frequently an extrovert). This way the introverts are able to contribute in a safer environment and you are able to gather valuable input from all team members.

You may also want to pose a question for the group and ask them to write out their response first. You can have them share their ideas with another person. This satisfies the extraverts need to talk and the introverts need for time to process their thoughts before speaking to the large group.

When a lively discussion is happening among the group you will want to build in pause points that allow the introverts to join the conversation. Or you may need to put a structured reply process in place that allows everyone a turn to speak. Without this the extraverts will often dominate the conversation and you will not hear from the introverts. I have been told that introverts need a three second pause in the conversation in order for them to feel comfortable jumping in. For many extroverts this three seconds of silence is space to be filled. By building in structured gaps in the conversation you allow the introverts the comfort they need to join the conversation.

There are many things you can do to get more from your meetings and enhance engagement and participation and this is just one. The key is to take a team building training approach and plan the structure of your meeting to get the most from it.

At Summit Team Building we offer team building and team development program designed to enhance communication and overall group interactions and dynamics.

 

Team Building in Space

Scott Kelly aboard the ISS

Scott Kelly aboard the ISS

Team building and teamwork are critical for success. Astronaut Scott Kelly has just returned from a record breaking 340 days in space. After spending close to a year on the International Space Station Scott Kelly has landed back on earth. The science rich mission was in-part used to test human endurance in zero gravity as part of the planned future expedition to Mars and its success was in large part attributed to teamwork.

As well all know, experience and knowledge are critical to produce high performance results. However, you can have the smartest and most experienced people and if they cannot work well together the vast majority of their talents will go to waste and they will not produce high performance results.

Upon his return to earth, astronaut Scott Kelly, spoke of the important role teamwork played on his space mission.

“A really smart person said to me one time, ‘Teamwork makes the dream work in spaceflight,’ and spaceflight is the biggest team sport there is,” Kelly said Monday. He acknowledged each of the 13 U.S., Russian, European and Japanese space fliers with whom he and Kornienko lived during the past year. “It’s incredibly important that we all work together to make what is seemingly impossible, possible.”

One definition of high performance is: A high performance team is as a group of people with specific roles and complementary talents and skills, aligned with and committed to a common purpose, who consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovation, that produce superior results. Team relationships are built on trust, support and respect

When you combine skills, experience and teamwork you can achieve results that go beyond what was expected. Essentially in a high performance team 1 + 1 = 5.

When I was climbing Everest there was a group of researchers from brown and Harvard Universities sharing our base camp. They were researching the impact of team culture on summit success. Their hypothesis was that a dysfunctional or poor functioning team would have a negative influence on individual and team performance and on ultimate summit success. I did not see the results of their study, but from my own informal research I can say their hypothesis was correct.Scott Kress on the summit of Everest

I experienced the impact of team culture on results first hand when climbing Cho Oyu in Tibet. We had a team of talented and experienced climbers and yet we could not get ourselves together to become a team. We did not bond together and for supportive relationships, this led to low levels of trust among the team and this promoted silos, selfishness and lack of communication. Nobody was really committed to the team and there was no accountability. Ultimately we failed. Not a single person, all of who were totally capable, made it to the summit.

At Summit Team building we believe that teamwork is the most important factor in organizational success and this is what we focus on in our team building programs. Our goal is to help you build the best team foundation possible from which you can attain high performance results.

Check out our Team Development and Team building program and see what we can do to help your team become high performance.

Free Summit Team Building Showcase

Outward Bound TorontoSummit Team Building takes a human-centered approach in designing programs focused on unleashing a team’s full potential.  Twenty years of experience has taught us that companies and organizations require different solutions at different times.  To effectively address these needs, we have developed 3 distinct service streams; Team Building, Team Development and Keynote Speaking.

In order to fully appreciate how Summit Team Building can help your organization build a high performance culture, focused on team and organizational goals please join us at one of our half day showcases.

 

JOIN US FOR A FREE HALF DAY PREVIEW

This is your opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at not just what we deliver but how we deliver it and why.  You will experience an abridged version of one of our team building programs, a module from a team development program as well as a sample of the keynote ” Learning In Thin Air”

Date:          Wednesday March 2nd and Thursday April 28th, 2016

Location:   The Estates of Sunnybrook, 2075 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON

Time:          8:00-11:30 am

A complimentary continental breakfast is included.

Space is limited. Please register at http://www.summitteambuilding.com/register/

 

Scott Kress Keynote Introduction

As a speaker I believe that I have three main goals to accomplish at any event in which I speak. First and foremost I need to be an entertainer. If I am not entertaining, the audience will quickly lose interest in what I have to say regardless of the importance. The story I tell is what keeps the audience connected and this allows the next goal to be accomplished; educate. As a speaker I hope to introduce the audience to new ideas and concepts, and to see existing ideas in a new light. It is through this new lens that we see a new way forward and we identify new strategies, personal and team, that will take us to where we need to go. And lastly I hope to inspire. Through my stories I hope to light a fire or to provide a catalyst that will inspire people to look at what they do and to select new and better strategies for success. I would not say that I am a motivational speaker as motivation is an external factor that if often fleeting. Inspiration comes from within and is personal. When a person is inspired they have a much stronger conviction to the goals and strategy. In my talk I hope to inspire people to be introspective and to look at new and better ways of doing things.

 

Scott Kress Keynote Energy

Covey’s Circle of Influence model is a great one for helping us compartmentalize what is helping us an what is sucking away our energy. In this clip I discuss how we applied this model to our team on the mountain and the challenges we faced and relate it to how the audience can use it in their world. This model allowed us to make some very specific choices that we may not have mad if we had not understood the concept this model presents.