The Gate is Closed

business man with luggage waiting in the airport

My intentions for a perfect morning of air travel came to a sudden halt when the check in machine spit out a receipt saying, “We cannot complete your check-in, proceed to the TICKET counter,” NOT the “Proceed to GATE” message I was looking for.

I missed my flight.

That’s never a good feeling. It gives you a sinking, churning-in-your-gut sensation… similar to bungee jumping – but not nearly as much fun.

I took my disappointment to the counter, acknowledging that I started the chain of events by poorly timing my morning, and mentioning the conference calls I scheduled through the day, timed ever-so-carefully around arrivals and layovers. I was expecting an eye-roll or an, “I am sorry. I can’t help you…” But I got something different. Karen, the Air Canada ticket agent, said, “I am up for the challenge!”

This was 7:30 in the morning. What was she on?

Then I saw it. She was in her groove. She got an undeniable charge out of problem solving. After a flurry of keyboard activity, shuffling of papers, and a final clunk of the stapler, she had me sorted out! I was going to make my connection, and each of my conference calls after all.

She had a look of satisfaction and accomplishment. Right person, right job! She came from a place of service. She diffused my anxiety with her commitment to the process, and her reassurance.

As I walked toward the gate, I turned and said to Karen, “Thank you for making this so easy for me. You are really great at your job.” She probably knows she’s good at her job, but she deserved to hear it from someone who earnestly appreciated her. Karen was the hero of my morning! She nodded to me, and approached the next customer with an even bigger smile. I hope she reaped the rewards of that exchange, as much as I did.

When do you find yourself truly engaged on the job?

How can you get more of that feeling every day?

How can you spark others to great work?

 

DaveDavid Graham is a Leadership Coach & Chief Exploration Officer of EDGE3.  Want to tap into your team’s ultimate potential? We help leaders build high-performing, super-focused teams! Call us for a free team assessment.

CALL FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS

Nature in the City

Since 2011, EDGE3 has been coaching Canadian leaders and executives, building teams, and hosting a variety of employee engagement events. We help people find inspiration to develop the tools necessary to be the most successful and effective versions of themselves. We strive to make experiences as fun and engaging as possible, doing so in the most creative and inspiring spaces for our clients.

The most inspiring place for us, and what has driven our business ethos, is NATURE! We consistently encourage our clients to get out of the boardroom and into nature. For us, that’s where OUR best ideas happen. For our clients, it’s an opportunity to be in a space that inspires different thinking and new ideas.

Each year, we’ve developed a calendar that has become wildly popular amongst our clients. These calendars feature beautiful nature photography and thought provoking questions to keep our network moving forward. This year, our goal is to create Nature in the City – a reminder to the 100’s of Canadian leaders that display their calendar on their desk, or digitally on their computer, that nature is right at our doorsteps!

We invite photographers to submit up to 12 photos that represent Nature in the City. EDGE3 will select our 12 favourite photographs from all of the submissions to use in our 2017 calendar, and feature on our blog and social channels throughout the year. For each photograph EDGE3 selects for the calendar, we will reward the photographer with a $50 (CAD) gift card (photographers may select a gift card from a selected list of retailers/partners).

We encourage you to learn more about EDGE3 on our website, and view past versions of the calendar. To enter your photograph(s), please send photos, or links to specific photos, to: edge3natureinthecity@gmail.com

Submission deadline: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2016 – 11:59PM (EST)

Selection will take place the following week and EDGE3 will notify photographers by email. We thank everyone in advance for entering their work and participating in our project; EDGE3 will only be contacting photographers whose photo(s) have been selected.

 

Building Your Team…Naturally

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One of my greatest pleasures with running EDGE3 is getting teams out of the boardroom and into nature. It also happens to be one of our greatest challenges. It’s tough for a business to close shop for a day or two, and understandably a leader wants to know the value.

“What lasting impact is it going to have on our team?”

As I reflect on my most recent team-building event, an immersive experience on a private island in Muskoka, I took a few quiet moments during the retreat to make some observations of the team.

  • I saw real people engage in open honest dialogue sharing what matters most to them
  • I witnessed self-discovery, humble realizations and seeing things from someone else’s point of view
  • I noticed hierarchy and ego drift away and team members coming up with innovative solutions together
  • I observed unconditional support, and team members envisioning the business they would create in the future
  • I watched a team become a TRIBE with an overarching theme that, “We are in this together!”

So are there a clear ROI measures for a team building retreat? Absolutely! But it’s critical that leaders and their coach establish clear objectives that can be measured at the end of the event. It’s also essential that each individual team member set intentions at the beginning, and create a powerful action plan at the end. And it doesn’t stop there; follow-up one month after the event will give you the biggest bang for your team-building buck!

And metrics aside, high performers want to continue to learn and grow. Companies that invest in developing their people will be more likely to retain great talent and see rewards in ways that they had never thought imaginable. When a leader gives themselves and their teams permission to recalibrate and explore, it’s truly remarkable what can grow and flourish.

Dave

David Graham is a Leadership Coach & Chief Exploration Officer of EDGE3.  Want to tap into your team’s ultimate potential? Allow us to take you out of the boardroom and into nature!

 

 

Are You In Your Element?

One phrase came up recently for me, and I’ve really been thinking about it a lot and its connection to nature.

Someone said to me, “I’m fighting fires at the office, right now!” Thankfully they weren’t literally faced with blazing piles of paper, computers spontaneously combusting, or exploding equipment, but they were definitely punctuating the level of stress they faced in that situation.

Does this seem familiar to you? Maybe you’ve said it in a pressure-filled moment of stress and uncertainty. Or maybe someone around you says it more than you’d like to hear. Regardless, we can appreciate the implied sentiment.

When fires occur in nature, (in very basic, boiled-down terms) there are elements that ignite the fire, elements that fan the fire, and elements that extinguish the fire. I think the same is very true when a metaphorical fire blazes in a work environment. What’s interesting is that when people say they’re fighting fires, I wonder, are they really FIGHTING them?

There are people that act as AIR…

who feed the fire making it burn brighter; I imagine this person providing ample oxygen by talking circles, and whirling around the problem.

There are others that act as WATER…

who douse the flames and eventually extinguish it; I imagine this person calmly approaching the problem and facilitating active problem solving.

The most interesting element to me though in this little analogy is the source of the fire…

Sometimes fires start naturally given the right environment; in the professional setting, this could be a case of someone IDENTIFYING the problem (the fire) as opposed to starting it.

But sometimes fires don’t just start on their own….

Sometimes we’re THE MATCH; I imagine this person over-anticipates problems, bogs people down by projecting unnecessary anxiety, over-promises & under delivers, and creates greater general stress around results…

So maybe fire is an inevitability in the office, just as much as it is in nature – there are many variables to what starts a fire and keeps it going. Sometimes we can control these things; sometimes we can’t. The more awareness we have around the variables though, helps us understand which element we are. Or which element we want to be. I think we just want to avoid being the person who walks around with a lit match.

Which element did you take on in a recent ‘fire’?

How can you let the fire inside you burn brighter than the ones around you?
Devon Blog Pic

Devon plans dynamic client workshops, team building & appreciation-themed events.  She feeds her curiosities with writing, food dreaming, and adventures in all things beautiful!  How do you connect your team with their deepest passions?

Comfortable with being uncomfortable

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After 16 years of living in the same area, we are making the move to a different neighbourhood. It has been an emotional journey that has reminded me that change is not always comfortable.

As a coach, I encourage my clients to step out of their comfort zone and embrace change, but perhaps rather than pushing out of what’s comfortable, we should gently ease into the discomfort, and slowly accept the change.

Not too long ago I was facilitating a workshop and one of the participants who was struggling to have a difficult conversation with a co-worker, leapt to her feet and exclaimed, “I am comfortable with feeling uncomfortable!” She had been putting off the meeting for quite some time and she finally accepted that it made her uncomfortable, and she was going to do it anyway.

Like a baby bird being nudged out of the nest,

A tender sprout finally poking through the hard soil,

An awkward fawn taking its first steps…

Take the leap! Make the commitment! Gently lean in and let the discomfort serve as a reminder that we are in a period of growth. Victory is on the other side.

Dave

David Graham coaches good leaders who want to become spectacular leaders.  

What is one small change that you could you embrace that would make the biggest difference in your growth as a leader? Let’s talk.

The Leadership Journey

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My EDGE3 Experience by Dr. Naresh Vempala, Research Scientist

In life and career, we all come to a point where we take a pause to evaluate our journey that has been, to determine the journey that lies ahead. Having arrived at that point, I found I am not quite the leader that I envisioned myself to be. I felt that there was a key ingredient missing from my professional life. While I knew something was missing, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

I felt that that there was something holding me back from pursuing my ambition. Perhaps, certain aspects of my personality were standing as obstacles in my path, or maybe circumstances were just so that I couldn’t get to the next level. Or, perhaps it was a combination of the two.

This was my state of mind when I came across Edge3 and David Graham.

Being innately cautious and skeptical, I was unsure of how leadership coaching would help me get out of my rut. Despite my reservations, I decided to dip my foot into the coaching pool. I started one-on-one sessions with David, determined to set myself achievable goals. Very quickly David was able to help me identify my strengths and weaknesses, and pull out my core values. Within three months I found myself (a) re-acquainted with the key strengths that define my personality, (b) objectively evaluating personality traits that have acted as inhibitors to my growth, (c) understanding how my strengths could be used to counter my weaknesses, (d) putting these discoveries into clear actionable plans, and (e) reaping rich benefits by following these plans.

Through this journey with David, I realized something. One cannot approach leadership by thinking of leadership alone. What does the concept of leadership mean to each of us? I realized that leadership and career are not isolated from other aspects of our lives. Instead, they are interconnected with various components of our lives and should therefore be approached holistically. I now understand what the notion of leadership means to “me”. In other words, how can I be the best leader that I want to be? To address this question, I had to dig deep and define what great leadership meant to me. The idea is not to merely emulate someone else but to use other leaders as sources of inspiration, while staying true to our core.

In one specific instance David worked at re-shaping my thinking in a positive direction such that a core value could be used to overcome an inhibition. In one of our sessions, the topic of self-promotion came up. It is clear to me that most leaders are good at marketing themselves well. Self-promotion is necessary to get noticed, to reach a wider audience, following which the quality of their work speaks for itself.

However, to me the very idea of self-promotion seemed unappealing – ego-driven and vain – while I begrudgingly admitted that it was also necessary. With David’s help I learned to approach it differently. If one wants to do good things, help others, serve their needs, then being in a position of influence helps to maximize that goal. In other words, being famous helps one to persuade other people towards being more altruistic. This makes self-promotion almost imperative. So, once we associate self-promotion with a higher altruistic goal, it becomes a positive activity.

David’s patience, attention to detail, clarity of thought, and ability to push us to work harder at self-reflection, make these coaching sessions extremely valuable. Having said that, I suggest two necessary things for anyone interested in leadership coaching with David. First, be very clear on what your objectives are for each coaching session. You could buy the most expensive, snazzy looking gadget and feel good about it. But if you are unclear on what your needs are, and what you intend to use that gadget for, then the value of purchasing that gadget is lost. I started with a general set of objectives for the entire set of coaching sessions. For each session I would then narrow the list down to one or two specific items. This helped me stay focused on my goals. Second, it certainly helps to diligently work through the action plans that David sets out at the end of each session. Metaphorically speaking, if I watched a hundred fitness training videos on YouTube and did nothing beyond watching, that would have no significant benefits, as opposed to taking the extra effort to physically train myself.

The coaching sessions with David were a necessary step for my personal and professional growth, sort of like a springboard that will launch me into a direction devoid of inhibition and fear, but replete with a unique combination of humility, assertiveness, ambition, and compassion – the direction towards being a balanced, thoughtful leader.

Naresh2

Dr. Vempala is a Research Scientist at Ryerson University. He is a project manager, data scientist, and scientific writer rolled into one. He works at the intersection of industry and academia, where he manages and co-supervises collaborative projects that require (a) conducting cutting-edge applied research within a lab environment, and (b) translating those research findings into innovative product development for the industry. He lives and breathes data in all its forms – from analysis to visualization, to building computational models. His writing includes technical reports and blogs, grant proposals, scientific journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers.

Breaking the Ice

 

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It was one of those magical days that I’ve only experienced a few times before, a hot sunny day in April when the ice on the lake begins to thaw.  It lasts for only a short time when something gives and the thick layer of ice turns to slush.  It’s the most amazing time to be in a kayak! With every stroke you chip away at what has been still for months and with new life the ripples are in motion again.

We create ripples each day, but we don’t see it as clearly as we do when we break the ice.  Sometimes it takes a hard blow to crack the surface and other times it separates smoothly like slush in a frozen cocktail.  Either way, it’s a temporary transition, for eventually it will melt and the water will flow effortlessly.

I suppose that I enjoy kayaking on a frozen lake because it’s a short-lived gift, a brief fleeting moment in time with the promise of sunny days ahead.  As I break through the ice, I can almost hear echoes of children splashing about and cheers of laughter as they leap off the dock in utter joy.

On the flip side, I see the ripples from my paddle cracking the ice in the distance, as far as the eye can see.  It reminds me of the powerful effect that each of us has on the world around us.

  • What are the ripples of intention that you are sending across the lake?
  • What is the impact of your actions when they reach the other shore?

Dave

As Chief Exploration Officer of EDGE3, David Graham is passionate about getting leaders and their teams out of the boardroom and into nature.  These unbelievable outdoor experiences build lasting connections, strong bonds and ultimately takes a team’s performance to the next level. 

Building a Book Club

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Looking back at the team building workshops that we’ve designed for our clients, one of the most cost-effective, yet impactful approaches has been with Book Clubs. The simplicity of its structure and the shared learning leads to some pretty impressive results. So how does it work?

CREATE A CULTURE OF LEARNING

One of the things that high performers tell me is that they want to continue to learn and grow. By setting a deadline in the calendar, reading becomes a priority and as a leader you are supporting a culture of learning and development.

GETTING STARTED

When the team arrives on site, they already have shared understanding of new concepts that will put them on the same page (pun intended)! Begin with one simple question and you are off. “What resonated with you the most?” This allows for everyone’s voice to be heard and will give you great insight to what makes the team tick.

THOUGHT PROVOKERS

Once everyone has had a chance to speak, introduce some thought-provoking, open-ended questions.  Ideally you want to create healthy debate and some light-hearted discussion.  Business guru, Jim Collins suggested that the difference between good teams and great teams is their ability to challenge one another. Since it’s someone else’s content, it depersonalizes the topic allowing for a softer, less confrontational approach.

DEEP DIVE

If you bring in a coach to facilitate, this is a great time for an exercise or breakout session. Divide the team into groups and send them off to a flip chart to explore one of the over-arching concepts of the book. Be sure to team them up with those they don’t typically work with to develop new connections.

PAPERBACK PUNCH

Finally, here’s where you’ll get the most punch for your paperback. Leave them with this question: “Given this new learning, how does this change the way that we do business?”

DON’T KNOW WHAT TO READ?

Contact us and we’ll send you our TOP TEN BOOKS for teams. Better yet, leave the whole thing to EDGE3, and we’ll show up with the books, the exercises and an amazing facilitator!

DaveDavid Graham develops workshops to build high performing super-focused teams.  

What would be the most valuable skill for your team to uncover?  What can you learn about team members by asking them to share their insights?  What SMALL investment will have the BIGGEST return?

Culture Flip: A Swedish Perspective

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My career started like many others I know – in a rush. I began my first full-time job while still in the final exam period of my fourth year at University. I didn’t breathe between earning my degree and receiving my first pay cheque as a professional.

I kept the blinders on as I moved, elbowed, and clawed my way through the rat race. Until my spouse came home from work with a job offer to move to Stockholm, Sweden. That was a curveball I wasn’t anticipating.

As I arrived in Stockholm I experienced a flip in my professional perspective. I was exposed to:

  • A work-to-live mentality
  • A culture that invests in their people – ergonomic desks, great workspaces, flexible hours, and a never emptying bowl of fruit in each common area
  • Fika Fridays – a gathering of employees where coffee and cake is served, plus some time for social conversation on the clock
  • A place where parental leave is encouraged for all
  • A culture where the focus is on results –  not the number of hours a person’s clocked

All this was occurring throughout highly successful and profitable businesses. Hmmm… that got me thinking, “Have we got the best formula for productivity and success in North America?”

What I know is that research shows us that productivity and profits soar when employees are given flexible work hours, time for naps in the afternoon, a comfortable workspace, etc.

What would happen if we flipped our professional perspective by exploring successful businesses in other cultures? How would it impact our teams and bottom lines?

Megan PictureMegan Cosgrove PCC, CHRL

Megan is a Management Consultant & Human Resources Business Partner. She works within diverse industries collaborating with both corporate and not-for-profit clients. Her coaching and leadership programs at Traverse Coaching and Leadership Development keep her busy, and motivated to help others.

 

Leadership Lessons from a Dollar Store

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Feeling a little shy of my thriftiness, I considered not posting this blog, but the lessons were far too juicy not to share.

Blowing in the winter breeze, the balloons above a new shop’s “Now Open” sign lured me inside to see how the store lived up to its promise of everyday consumer products, for only a buck or two.

Traversing each aisle thoughtfully, I finally arrived at the register with a basket full of goodies, walking up only to interrupt a gaggle of staff bad mouthing their new boss.  Eek… awkward!  The store had just opened; what could possibly be the root of their discontent?  My curiosity got the better of me, and I quickly turned this into an impromptu leadership opportunity.

“So, what drives you crazy about your boss?”  I asked.

They all looked shocked and surprised at my bluntness.  One quickly muttered, “Oh no! We love our boss.  She’s great.  I was talking about my old boss.”

I assured them I was just a curious leadership coach doing some research, and rephrased the question: “In general, what are some of the things that frustrate you about bosses?”

The feedback they offered was simple, yet so telling about what was going on, and how that made them feel.

The first staff-a-rama said, “Don’t stand over me.”  What she went on to say was even more interesting, “When you hover, it makes me feel like you don’t trust me.  Why did you hire me if you didn’t trust me?”

“Don’t freak out on me,” said the second staff-a-rama.  Although she didn’t say another word after that,  her body’s retreat into itself was a probable indicator that a recent reprimand had potentially killed her spirit.

Staff-a-rama number three quickly declared, “Don’t pick favourites!”  It appeared she’d already been made to feel like second fiddle. Sadly, she may stay in that role based on that standard that’s already been set for her; she probably feels like that’s the space that’s been made for her.

There are some pretty clear leadership lessons here that even the most seasoned leader could miss.

Trust that your team is capable of the challenges you have given them

Compassion will always yield better results than making people feel fearful

Fair and equitable treatment of all team members leads to better performance

What is your trademark as a leader?  The true indication of who you are a leader is not what the team tells you in person, it’s what they say when you are not in the room. What do you want your people to say about you when you’re not around? Think about it, define it, live it!

Dave

David Graham develops good leaders who want to become spectacular leaders.  He illuminates blind spots and helps to navigate your leadership journey.  Where is your greatest opportunity for growth as a leader?