A few years back, I stepped away from an organization I loved (but a role I didn’t) to carve my own path doing something new. I was craving purpose and had a deeply held desire to do something meaningful - to create more value for myself, and my community.
To say that it hasn’t exactly been a straightforward journey would be a pretty wild understatement. Like many self-employed people, I struggled with the transition from team environment to lone wolf. I lacked structure and, honestly, I wasn’t feeling very motivated.
After some time adjusting and contemplating what was getting in my way, I had a light bulb moment and realized what was missing for me – a sense of belonging. I had always been a part of a cohesive, healthy team and they were a great motivator for me – I was missing that team environment, in a big way.
Research has found that when we feel like we belong, we experience meaning, life satisfaction, physical health and psychological stability. When we feel excluded, physical pain and a wide range of psychological ailments result.
Think about our current world situation and imagine how important that sense of belonging is now, while we are physically separated from our teams. And part of the challenge for leaders is how do we create that sense of belonging through a computer screen? How do we continue to engage and motivate our teams?
Aside from the daily duties and work conversations we’re having virtually, it’s critical to seek out team experiences that create that sense of belonging, and ensure no one is feeling excluded. In 2019, leadership development start up BetterUp conducted online simulations of exclusion in team settings and found that excluded people were 25 per cent less productive in working toward their team's goals.
Knowing the pulse of our teams and how they are feeling in this virtual environment is a key factor in cultivating happiness, productivity and engagement. And virtual team building can be a great way to do that.
In fact, as Jacquie and I have been developing BTC’s upcoming web series, Your Brain on Resilience, I’m beginning to realize this virtual thing is actually a great chance to engage teams in a different way. Makes us work a bit harder to bring people together, foster team growth and get our learning to stick. Who doesn’t love a challenge?
And shake things up a bit with your teams! Do something a little different that will keep them on their toes – our BTC team is pushing us to try new things (never thought I would be gearing up for an Instagram takeover!), and I’m loving the growth that’s happening. It’s great to be part of a cohesive, hard working team again, and it’s easy to see why this type of collaboration is such a motivator for me.
I wanted to drop in and share a little about how I’ve been feeling lately with the launch of Your Brain on Resilience. Obviously first and foremost, I am SO excited. For the first time in this capacity, I’m working with a team of four people to get this show on the road; I feel supported, and I know that together we can get anything done. In the same vein though, with more manpower things are moving faster than ever before at BTC, and towards something totally new.
In my career I have hosted workshops, lead programs for corporate teams in person, spoken at conferences with several hundred people, hosted one off webinars for clients (or to support one of our leadership programs), and coached people both in-person and virtually. I have the certifications to back-up my knowledge, and the experience to back-up my opinions. But everything relating to the web in this workshop is new for me – the student platform, the online registering and payment functions, some of the Zoom functionality, and a few other tech surprises that we have in store for participants.
While I know the BTC team is here to make sure everything “functions”, my brain is throwing questions at me left, right, and centre. What if ‘I’ can’t make it work? What if people get bored? What if the ‘flow’ is off? What if people don’t come…
Logically, I know I can do this. It’s basically like anything I’ve done but in a different venue, right? Prior to anyone coming, the team will be testing all the tech from a user perspective, so it’s going to work, right?
It will, and I know it will.
It’s funny to me that, even knowing how my brain works from a neuroscience perspective, I still sometimes get hung up on ‘what if’s’. That tug of doubt, that ‘threat’ response, that pull of the older part of the brain that is so powerful. I try to remember that I can choose my thinking.
One of my favourite lines is from Joe Madden, ex-GM of the Chicago Cubs, who said to his guys when he first came on board, “Don’t be perfect, be present”. I have to keep reminding myself that it may not be absolutely flawless, especially the first time or two, but if I am present, and I deliver the material I’m passionate about and know like the back of my hand, that will be enough. People will get something valuable and powerful, which is the MOST important thing to me.
No road is without bumps, and confidence can be hard to find; I may not be perfect but I PROMISE myself, the BTC team, and the community I’m working to build, that I will be PRESENT.
Stars... They're just like us.
Jacquie and Leanne made an incredible video to help you understand your brain on COVID-19 from a neuroscience perspective (find that on the home page).
This version though - this is just a blooper version to make you smile!
Sphere of Influence
Uncertainty during COVID-19 leaves everyone (including the BTC Team) feeling like our lives as we know them could be classified using only a big "question mark". There are so many things that we have the power to control or influence, but with the COVID cloud above everyone, it is way too easy to get caught up in things we can't. Jacquie wanted to break down the Sphere of Influence for the BTC community to plant a "mind seed", and get people thinking about about what we can and can't control.
P.S. Just because you CAN control your hands as you cut your own hair, doesn't mean you SHOULD :)