“A tradesman is only as good as their tools.”
– author unknown
A carpenter looks at a piece of lumber and can see a finely crafted table. A potter casts her eye over a messy lump of clay, and yet, can see an ornate vase. A writer stares at an empty screen but imagines a book.
As a program leader, I see a group of people longing to connect, to be noticed, to matter. They want to know that what they are about to do makes sense and has meaning to their group, their professions, their lives.
While there are tools essential to my particular craft, they are largely unseen.
As I consider how I do what I do, by far the most potent tool I employ is fun. Fun, taken seriously, is the key. It answers the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question everyone is asking.
The Answer Is Fun
Fun is the carrot I dangle in front of people to encourage them to step outside of their Comfort Zones, to experience the value of stretching a little. It is the thread that weaves in and out of my unique approach and explains the why behind everything I do.
Because, it is impossible to change how people think or what they do without, first, changing how they feel. This is a scientific fact.
If you and I want our groups to grow, learn and develop, and we accept that this only occurs in their Stretch Zone, the million-dollar question is this: how do we influence humans – who are naturally inclined to seek comfort – to stretch a little? The most powerful and successful strategy I know is to have fun.
No matter how you describe it – fun or play or flow greases the wheels of interaction and invites people to laugh, play, interact, share, trust and connect meaningfully with one another – all of which contributes manifestly to the strengthening of relationships.
I have long held the fervent belief that fun group games & activities are a powerful (and thankfully, attractive) way to help people connect. Having worked with tens of thousands of people all over the world, I know this truth to be self-evident.
I also know that the stronger the connections I build within a group, the more they can amplify the results of whatever they are trying to get done. Greater participation, increased productivity, improved performance, etc.
This is what you want for your groups, too, right?
If your answer is yes, keep reading. Let’s now explore four more tools essential to the task of making a difference.
Essential Tools to Make a Difference
These are the tools I use to influence the way people feel and to help groups thrive.
As mentioned above, first and foremost is Fun. It is my most potent tool.
Like detergent mixed with oil, fun has the greatest power to cut through the crap. It promotes interaction and frames the use of each of the other four essential tools:
- Goal-Setting – setting clear expectations and the reasons for meeting them.
- Honouring Choice – the ability to choose if, when, and how far one may step outside their comfort zone.
- Leveraging Full Value – an agreed set of behavioural norms that frames and adds value to a group’s interactions.
- Learning Through Reflection – a process that enables the discovery of learning and growth.
Together, when used with skill and care, they create an environment that will generate surprising levels of fun and enjoyment, heightened levels of interaction and meaning, and stronger relationships.
The five tools of fun, goals, choice, full value, and reflection are the cornerstones of my approach to experiential education. They help me get stuff done.
To explore each of these tools in more detail, please click the relevant links above.
Extracted from parts of Serious Fun and No Props No Problem books.