Announce that over the course of 20 to 30 seconds you will call a series of commands that will require each person to look to the left or right.
Challenge each individual to respond to each of your commands as quickly and accurately as possible.
Instruct each person to hold their look (to left or right) for a half-second before returning to equilibrium (facing the screen.)
When ready, start issuing a random series of these two commands.
Next, add two new commands of Up (to the ceiling) and Down (to the ground.)
When ready, start announcing a random series of all four commands.
Continue play for another 20 to 30 seconds and/or try a variation.
How To Play Narrative
As described in the Source tab, this idea came to me during the height of the COVID19 pandemic. I was building a long list of activities that would work virtually and were not only fun and engaging, but simple to deliver.
In essence, Look Left is a virtual adaptation of the wildly successful Jump In Jump Out. If you are familiar with this most viral of activities, then you’ll grasp this energiser very quickly.
Sitting in front of one’s desktop, laptop or smartphone, ask all of your virtual participants to look straight at their webcam and listen carefully.
To be honest, it doesn’t matter if your participants have their webcams switched on or not because you want them to focus on your verbal commands, and not be distracted by what other people are doing. But, whatever works.
Tell your group that in a few moments, you are going to announce a random series of two commands – to “LOOK LEFT” or “LOOK RIGHT.” Their challenge is to respond as quickly and as accurately as possible every time.
Importantly – and don’t forget to mention this – instruct each person to hold their look (to the left or right) for a brief half-second, before returning to equilibrium, meaning they look back to the centre of their webcam.
And that’s it. For now.
When ready, your first round may sound a bit like this: “LOOK LEFT, LOOK RIGHT, LOOK LEFT, LOOK RIGHT, LOOK RIGHT, LOOK LEFT, LOOK RIGHT, LOOK LEFT, LOOK LEFT…” You get the idea.
Upon completing your first 20 to 30 second round, shake out the stress of the exercise and repeat it and/or announce that you are now introducing two new commands “LOOK UP” and “LOOK DOWN” which should be pretty obvious to everyone what they mean.
Again, when ready, start making a series of random calls invoking all four commands.
Voila! Within the space of 1 to 2 minutes, you’ll have boosted the energy stocks of your group.
If your group is up for it, ramp up the challenge and introduce one or more variations, as described in the Variations tab.
Practical Leadership Tips
Not that it matters much, but all directions are to be viewed from the perspective of the participants (not yours.)
It’s much more fun if your group switches on their webcams because (for you) the spectacle of watching everyone’s erratic movements is hilarious. Plus, it is possible that some participants will get distracted by looking at the gallery of video thumbnails and make a few honest mistakes.
For fun, I sometimes look to the opposite direction as I make a particular call, eg I look left when I call “LOOK RIGHT.” Tricky, I know!
You could integrate Look Left as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in different situations and to achieve goals.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of enjoying a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully look in the correct direction as often as possible speaks to the benefits of being present (a mindfulness practice) and blocking out all other distractions, but this would be considered a minor attribute belonging to this particular energiser.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Look Left could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Say What I Say: Add a set of verbal instructions that require your group to “…SAY WHAT I SAY AND DO WHAT I SAY.” For example, when you say “LOOK LEFT” your group will respond immediately with “Look Left” as they are looking to the left.
This Not That: Similar to the above variation, frame the left/right commands as the X-axis and the up/down commands as the Y-axis. In one round, switch left for right and vice versa, but up still means up and down means down. Then swap.
Opposites 1: Ramp up the challenge of all four commands by announcing “… SAY WHAT I SAY BUT DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I SAY.”
Opposites 2: Ramp up the challenge even more by announcing “… SAY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I SAY BUT DO WHAT I SAY.”
Take a look at Jump In Jump Out to enjoy the original, kinaesthetic version of this game.
Take a look at Mr & Mrs Wright, a fun, story-based expression of this same activity.
This exercise has already been described within a virtual context.
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Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this silly energising game:
What did you notice as the activity progressed?
How much were you influenced by the movements of others on the screen?
What strategies did you employ to be successful?
How did you respond when others made mistakes/missteps?
What might this exercise reflect about empathy and leadership?
Does it teach us anything about effective leadership?
The inspiration for Look Left was sourced during a moment of COVID19 desperation to generate a bunch of activities that could be presented virtually and were fun and engaging.