Friday, August 30, 2013

What is Your 'Trouble Tree'?

Have you taken the Leading with Courage 2013 Professional Reading Challenge to read "A Captain's Duty" by Richard Phillips? While reading the book, I was captivated by the ritualistic behavior of the Somali pirates who even in the midst of holding Captain Phillips prisoner conducted ceremonial rituals. Certain rituals are vital to cohesiveness and performance of the team.

Bill Miller, Training Specialist at the National Advanced Fire and Resource Institute and NWCG Leadership Subcommittee member, shared the following video of ceremonial rituals taken while conducting leadership training for wildland fire crews in South Africa. This video was taken during their graduation ceremony, but chanting and dancing were a daily ritual for these firefighters.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge:
  • Read The Power of a "Project Beard" and Other Office Rituals by Sue Shellenbarger. Shellenbarger shares her thoughts on how office rituals can be used to reduce anxiety and help individuals perform better.
  • Discuss with other leaders and team members rituals that could have a positive impact on performance.
A Story: Hanging Your Worries on the Trouble Tree
(Original author: Unknown) 

The carpenter who was hired to help a man restore an old farmhouse had just finished his first day on the job and everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. First of all, on his way to work he had a flat tire that cost him an hour’s worth of pay, then his electric saw broke, and after work his old pickup truck refused to start.
His new boss volunteered to give him a lift home and the whole way to his house the carpenter sat in stone silence as he stared out his window. Yet on arriving, he invited his boss in for a few minutes to meet his family. As they walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When he opened the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was one big smile as he hugged his two small children and kissed his wife.
Afterwards, the man walked his boss to his car to say thank you. Now on their way out of the house, the boss’ curiosity got the best of him so he had to ask the man about the tree on the front porch. He said, I noticed when you came up on the porch before going into your house you stopped and touched the tree, why?
"Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. "I know I can’t stop from having troubles out on the job, but one thing’s for sure – my troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.”
"Funny thing is,” he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick ‘em up, they aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”


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