I’ve been a part of a lot of teams, in business, sports, and community. We strive for the ideal: to be collaborative, efficient, productive, innovative, and fun for people to be a part of. But teamwork is hard, and we rarely achieve even close to ideal. These ideal expectations often seem in contradiction with each other.
We seemingly have to trade-off one for another. Either innovative, or efficient. Either collaborative, or productive.
The one team I’ve been a part of that gets the closest to this ideal is the Vashon Wilderness Program Board of Directors. When I joined them I was a bit skeptical about some of their traditions, borrowed from the elements of the programs we run for children. We start meetings by “bringing our minds together” in going around the circle and sharing something we grateful for and by asking others if they too are grateful for this.
We schedule small breaks from our business conversations and play silly games. Five minutes of a group of adults contorting our bodies into animal forms and making funny noises, dissolves tension magically. We sing campy songs. We close our eyes and point at where things are from memory.
We howl like coyotes to close our meetings. And, we are incredibly productive, collaborative, focused, innovative, love working together, and run a highly successful and coveted program for our community.
This approach, called “Coyote Mentoring” is based on the work of the founders of the 8 Shields Organization (8shields.org), and has inspired many outdoor schools across the country to cultivate positive cultural change through deep nature connection. They’ve shown time and time again how for children and adults, nature connection leads to developing a quiet mind, child-like happiness, vitality, deep listening, empathy & connection, helpfulness, recognition of the value of life, and love, passion and forgiveness.
What’s the secret to success of your best team experience?