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  • Firefly News Flash September 2010, The Firefly Group
    of our mind Ideas Jane By Dan Bern So many things to think about And if I really tried Einstein s theory of relativity Could keep me occupied But no matter what I do To keep great thoughts in my head Four little letters makin up one word Keep spinning round instead Jane Jane Jane Your name reverberates through my brain Jane Jane Jane I bought a dictionary All it did was get in the way Too much A B C D E F G H I And not enough J I wake up in the morning With your name on my lips I m thinking of learning how to read Braille To have you at my fingertips Jane Jane Jane Conversation isn t easy With such a one track mind If I thought about science Like I think about you I d win a Nobel Prize I went to see a therapist The result was just the same We played word association And all I said was Jane Yeah there s much too much to think about Enough to make you go insane You can all think about everything else I ll think about Jane Jane Jane Jane Download an MP3 of this song Learn more about singer songwriter artist Dan Bern Jane music and lyrics Dan Bern and used by permission Technology and Attentiveness During the past few months the concept of attention has gained a lot of traction in light of the rocketing popularity of social media and its ability to insert itself into our lives at any moment Nicholas Carr has written a book The Shallows What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brain which raises the question of whether all the constant interruptions to our thinking from tweets cell phones instant messages and email notices might be preventing us from thinking critically and creatively Scientists cited in Gallagher s Rapt offer evidence that multitasking is a myth We don t really learn to do two or three things at once we divide our attention into short snippets and distribute them among tasks Every break requires a cranial re start creating inefficiency and interjecting mistakes Learning Curve Goes Digital in the August 10 issue of USA Today points out that though college text books are available digitally students prefer not to use their computers to study because of the distractions they constantly present Is Tech Rewiring Our Thinking from the Christian Science Monitor July 26 2010 questions whether technology is making us dumb and distracted or turning us in to expert information finders and magnificent multitaskers As the 99 Word Story illustrates it s not just high tech gadgets that cause us to lose control of our attention Too much focus on one thing becomes an obsession Dan Bern s song Jane see sidebar is a humorous example of what can happen when our attention circuits fixate on a single topic On the other hand the inability to filter out unwanted stimuli can be just as

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  • The Firefly News Flash, August 2010, The Firefly Group
    Activities Learn by Dis Covering One alternative to covering a topic is letting participants dis cover the information by themselves Here is an activity that you can easily adapt the next time you have information or knowledge you want to share It was inspired by my daughter Tilden who had to make a presentation to her class contrasting the basic information about two major world religions Break the factual information of your topic into small chunks of a few sentences or very short paragraphs Number them if a specific order is important then print them and cut them apart Next fold each piece of paper and put it inside a hollow plastic egg and hide all the eggs in the vicinity of your training or meeting When people are assembled and it s time to present your information send people on a treasure hunt to find the eggs Have people take turns reading the information they find inside their eggs You can supplement what people share with additional information or intersperse discussion questions with the facts as people read them As an alternative use a color coding system for the information inside the eggs For example all statistics are encased in red eggs All blue eggs have historical information and so forth When the eggs have been found give all the red and blue eggs to different small groups and ask them to consolidate their information and make a presentation to the whole group Stretch this activity by challenging people to think of the whole process as a metaphor How is hunting for information like continuous learning in your organization Where is information hidden in the workplace What surprises are revealed when we intentionally look for new ideas in unusual places Who or what is hiding helpful insights from view in our daily work What opportunities do we have for our own collaboration in discovering new on the job learning If using eggs seems childlike try colored envelopes or small gift boxes Whatever you use combine elements of discovery surprise and anticipation along with small digestible chunks of information The point is to reach a deeper level of understanding and learning And when you achieve that objective please and tell me what happened Feedback From Readers Trust The Firefly News Flash for May 2010 featured a review of Steven M R Covey s book The Speed of Trust It elicited thoughts from several readers I can see loss of trust and its impact on my professional life Its impact loss gains are immeasurable On a personal note I lost the trust of colleagues and really never understood what I had done Whatever I did it must have been perceived as nasty My well intentioned actions must have been misinterpreted I reached out and tried to fix a wrong that I was unaware of but the reach out was disregarded and no more discussion was to be had relationships broken and I was devastated still to this day not knowing what

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  • Firefly News Flash, July 2010, The Firefly Group
    a larger voice to convey their ideas This up close intimacy would be especially appropriate in counseling or coaching sessions Don t let the name fool you Miniature Metaphors can deliver a mighty message Learn more at Experiential Tools http www experientialtools com Ideas Every Little Detail Micromanagement there s a lot of grumbling and eye rolling about it in the workplace Often one person with some authority simply cannot let go of the details In their concern about getting everything right they end up taking responsibility away from someone else and diminishing that person s authority in the process Motivation suffers But if there s one place micromanagement might be justified or even recommended it is with oneself For example if I were able to apply the same critical eye and attention to the small details of my own activities that come easily when I review the actions of others how different might things be I might hand off a cleaner project to the next team member I might raise a sensitive topic among colleagues without ruffling feathers I might discover playful ways to improve relationships at home I might see how simple daily choices impact the fallout from an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico Attention to this level of personal detail takes reflection and a degree of introspection that is neither valued nor promoted in our Twitter culture that demands instant reaction rather than delayed reflection Yet as one interpretation of the 99 Word Story this month suggests when under pressure our imperfections tend to become magnified Attending to them early on only makes sense Using a Miniature Metaphor is one way to take care of the details Making an analogy between a tangible object and your current situation can be the beginning of a reflective journey You ll be able to identify nuances of meaning with each subtlety becoming a new point for possible improvement A short moment of reflection such as this might be the first step for making big changes as a leader Activities GURU Let Experience Be Your Teacher Making a metaphorical connection is one of many ways to examine the small details and gain a new perspective before they grow proportionally Asking the right questions is another After any interaction or event you can take a mental break and conduct an analysis of the immediate situation To make it quick and comprehensive here are four categories of questions you can use GROUND Ask questions to reveal the common Ground of experiences Zero in on thoughts and feelings Identify emotional reactions Encourage recall and reporting of major actions and experiences Sample questions What were you thinking or feeling at the time What was the sequence of events What did people say and do What is something that surprised you about what happened UNDERSTAND Ask questions to Understand the situation in a larger context Questions should highlight similarities and differences within and between events ideas or actions Encourage the articulation and analysis of

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  • Firefly New Flash, June 2010, The Firefly Group
    conversation if we have to tote around a list of questions as a cheat sheet That said I do find Chat Pack cards engaging as well as effective for sparking discussions and sharing little known stories among even those who are long time friends They work well with groups of any size You could even use them to inspire your own personal journal writing And who knows using Chat Pack Stories might even teach you and your friends how to become better conversationalists When that happens please Ideas Multifunctional Stories As the 99 Word Story for this month suggests much of the responsibility for effective communication belongs to the person receiving the message Yes communication is a two way street Books have been written about how to tell a good story and deliver an effective message But there is always the great unknown What happens inside the head of people who hear your carefully crafted story Terrence Gargiulo has done a great deal of research and study about the effective use of stories At his website Makingstories net he talks about the many uses of stories identifying nine functions a story can have In his chapter Storytelling in The Handbook of Experiential Learning Mel Silberman editor Pfeiffer 2007 Gargiulo says These nine functions of stories are essential aspects of leading any learning experience On the surface we use stories to warm up a group entertain them and or create an environment if we are a little vulnerable circumspect or reflective and if we don t take ourselves too seriously our intentions will spread through the group and positively affect its behaviors Gargiulo s emphasis is on using stories to tap into the inner dialogue of listeners Stories should be told in such a way that people are invited to share their interpretation and add to the group s understanding He cautions Steer away from using stories to encode information Stories that encode predigested messages such as allegories offer the weakest form of learning They miss this opportunity to invite others to weigh in with their ideas His preference is to open the room to the stories of everyone When people listen actively to one another they enter the world of another person Our understanding of another person s story is gained by working with bits and pieces of our own stories to find common connections between the story being shared and our own experiences In other words tell a story to get a story That s the idea behind Chat Pack Stories and it s also the basis of the Activity for this month featured below Terrence Gargiulo is author of Stories at Work The Strategic Use of Stories in Organizational Communication and Learning and In the Land of Difficult People For more information about these and his other books as well as how to use stories effectively go to www makingstories net Activities Double Exposure When my daughter was very young I noticed that she was most enthralled when

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  • The Firefly News Flash for May 2010, The Firefly Group
    in business or organizational life how big a role does trust play Kurt I think it is fundamental What often gets lost in discussions of trust is trusting that your fellow worker is deep down a decent human being and motivated by the same things we are Rushworth Kidder has done studies on values and when asked people of every culture say they value the same things honesty trust integrity fairness family truth transparency community etc Trust is ultimately about having compassion for your fellow human being and treating them how you would like to be treated Brian What s the best way to improve trust in a work setting Kurt Being open and honest and most of all making sure that communications are two way Brian How does one go about establishing an environment of trust Kurt By remembering our common values and aspirations Then by demonstrating those values with one another Brian Is trust in a work setting somehow different than in other settings such as at home Kurt With your family there is more at stake However I imagine most people worried about their finances end up putting more energy into work and short changing their families Does anyone really want to be lying on their death bed and saying I wish I had spent more time at work Unfortunately many end up saying I wish I had spent more time with my family Brian How would you asses our current trust climate as a society Is trust at a higher or lower level than it has been in the past Kurt If you read the newspapers or watch TV news it would appear abysmal However the rise of social media and many of the grass root organizations seem actually to be bringing people together for the common good Young people I meet care about making a change and creating a good world Also the internet now allows us to meet people whom we might not have met or trusted otherwise based on prior assumptions Again we see that there are universal values that unite us Brian What are some instances when it might be good to be less trustful of others or to extend less trust to someone else Kurt I can only think of a few instances where it might be an issue and that would be in a war zone Brian How much emphasis do you place on trust in your training programs at the World Bank What are some techniques you use for teaching about trust Kurt Trust is one of our core values which we always cover in our training As an international financial institution the World Bank has many stakeholders who have put their trust in us to use donor funds to alleviate poverty Our stakeholders include governments civil society vendors poor people and staff themselves All have a stake in the success of the World Bank If we don t honor our obligations to them they will lose trust in

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  • Firefly News Flash, April 2010, The Firefly Group
    of their own It s not uncommon for certain images to grab the group s collective mind and become a sort of short hand to describe their situation I invite you to try some of these sources of images then what happens in your group as a result Visual Explorer by the Center for Creative Leadership www ccl org ve This is a deck of 224 large format cards each with a high quality photo image designed to provoke reflection and conversation They are printed on glossy card stock 4 x 6 inches and come in a metal box Many of the images can be viewed on line which presents some interesting possibilities for distance or on line learning Sample images A star filled night sky Dew on a spider web Hands molding clay on a potter s wheel Man teaching a girl to ride a bicycle Hiker on the Great Wall of China Cost 395 Expression Cards from the University of Oklahoma www ettq ou edu This deck of cards contains 52 color photos Printed on glossy stock they are packaged in a cardboard box that fits in a pocket Sample images Child s drawing of a family Eifel Tower Traffic at night Snowcapped mountain Neon signs in Tokyo Spanish dancer Cost 15 Chiji Processing Cards by the Institute for Experiential Education phone 608 784 0789 http wilderdom com Chiji is a Chinese word meaning important moment or opportunity These computer drawn images come in a deck of 52 the size of playing cards Instructions and suggestions are included for Teachers Camp Counselors Recreation Program Leaders Therapists Social Workers and Environmental Educators but anyone even you can use them with ease Sample images Dead tree in a desert Flames of a fire Bottle with a message inside Bank vault Clown Artist s easel Ostrich with its head in the sand Cost 15 99 Looking Leadership from Instruction Design Concepts www kickitin com looking html At five by seven inches these color photo cards are terrific for large groups The images are easily seen from across the room Initially designed to evoke concepts related to leadership I have found this stack of 200 photos to be flexible enough to be used in any situation The cards come with instructions for set up specific activities and debriefing Sample images Pine forest Pride of lions Field of tulips Sign advertising Free Manure Rollercoaster Globe Flock of sheep White water kayaker Compass Trapeze artists Cost 375 VisualsSpeak by Image Based Training and Consulting www VisualsSpeak com This set of 200 photographs is printed on gloss laminated paper and comes in a variety of four sizes The back side of each is color coded and labeled so you can sort them into categories such as Life activities spirituality concepts Things household and personal cities and structures People children adults groups or Nature country animals and birds plants But as with all images I find that my participants are able to make their own categories

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  • The Firefly News Flash, March 2010, The Firefly Group
    people smoking was an expression of autonomy The decision to start smoking may have been a young person s best attempt to exert their own will But what is the motivation to continue It must be purpose or as I ve stretched it a bit belonging People need to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves whether that s a cause a mission or a social group they admire New Year s resolutions provide another example Why is it so difficult to stick with that new exercise program or diet Because progress is slow change is not readily measured and we quickly begin to feel incompetent We get discouraged because we cannot seem to master the task After all how hard can it be to run a mile or lose a couple pounds But if we don t see results soon we might conclude we ll never be up for the task Autonomy mastery and purpose can also provide the key to an un motivating situation Having trouble starting a project Ask yourself what s missing Is the project something you ve been told to do or that you are not being allowed to do creatively Try to build in more autonomy Maybe it s dull routine or below your skill level Look for ways to inject novelty or an opportunity to learn something new Perhaps you aren t sure how the project will eventually be used or how it fits with other projects Try to connect with the organization s mission or the Big Picture Once you start looking through the three lenses of autonomy mastery and purpose you ll begin to see how their relevance is often a hidden influencer of much of our behavior And when you find a great example with us rather than letting it go up in smoke Activities Have to Get to Want to What Motivational Operating System Are You Using by Fran Kick This month s guest contributor Fran Kick works on issues of empowerment with youth and youth serving professionals But his ideas are just as relevant no matter what your age or profession Here he shares his ideas about motivation along with a simple personal activity to see the importance of internal motivation in your own life In his book Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Dan Pink does a masterful job of illustrating the motivational operating system of human society since the beginning of our time here on Earth That s not an overstatement striving to impress you No hyperbole or some professional speaker stretching the story to make a point Dan Pink s book as reviewed by the International Herald Tribune The Miami Herald and U S News World Report is a thought provoking audacious and powerful book that s right on the money And certainly one you ll want to read ASAP Here s why Dan Pink advocates a science based research infused case for rethinking the best way to motivate

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  • The Firefly News Flash, February 2010, The Firefly Group
    of our brain and that those physical changes because they affect our emotions memories and perceptions actually begin to change our reality The book is The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge M D Penguin Books 2007 ISBN 978 0 670 03830 5 Ideas Brain Culture One principle Doidge often refers to is the use it or lose it quality of the brain This means that whether we are talking about neuronal connections or whole areas of the brain whatever is used becomes stronger If an area or connection is not used for a particular function it will be lost to that function and used for something else Similarly if we put more energy into using certain connections or brain areas they will become stronger and even more specialized for that purpose An interesting example of this is the sum total of our world view or culture We create our culture as a people but as individuals we learn our culture from family friends society and so forth Our brains create culture but culture also molds and creates our brain Doidge explains that when people were asked to recall pictures of undersea wildlife those from individualistic cultures talked about specific fish and what they did People from collectivistic cultures described groups of fish and how they interacted with the whole environment In addition each group used a different region of their brain to describe what they were recalling Individualistic and collectivistic cultures actually wire the brain to see the world a certain way As we learn a culture we teach our brain to see the world a very specific way and our brain responds by changing its structure It then becomes a finely tuned instrument for interpreting the world from that cultural perspective As long as you stay in your own culture you ll be fine But in a new culture what was once adaptive can become counterproductive or even dangerous This month s 99 Word story is a case where my wife had been so successful at molding her brain for Ecuador that she had trouble making a reconnect for the U S format For another example of the challenges involved in reprograming one s brain for another culture see the February March 2009 issue of the Firefly News Flash If it reminds you of your own challenges in personal brain restructuring please Activities Rearrange Your Brain The function of an arm or leg muscle is to move your body Muscles grow by doing what they do best moving The function of your brain is to think It grows by doing what it does best thinking Here s a game to grow your brain by challenging culturally wired assumptions CAN YOU EXPLAIN IT is based on assumptions judgements and our tendency to hold onto our first conclusion about a situation rather than testing for alternative explanations This is how we ll play I ll give you an observation in the form of a statement You think of an

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