How to have the Maximum positive impact on your team – in the shortest possible time.
I often get asked to work with a team for 30 minutes to an hour, sometimes even on the day of a game. Initially I felt uncomfortable doing this work, as it implied that you can have a silver bullet to the mental side of your game, and my experience has been that developing mental skills and from there growing performance, is a process and not a once-off fix.
What I have discovered and focused on is that there are two sides to developing performance. The Handbrake and the Accelerator.
This is releasing the mental interferences that may be in the way of the individual and the team to perform at their peak. This is releasing and letting go of doubts, fears, worries, concerns, irritations, intimidation, focusing on the wrong things, negativity etc. The more of these you let go of, the more likely you are to play to your level of trained ability. This work can be done in a short space of time and can have an immediate positive effect.
This is creating a vision for the individual and team to work towards, and supercharging that vision with powerful meanings to make it exciting and compelling enough to consistently stretch themselves daily in everything they do in service of that goal or vision. If by using your supercharged vision, every team member is for example: 5% more accurate, 10% more intense and 20% more focused in practise, than those numbers add up to a higher level of trained ability growth, per practise, and over time that team will catch other teams who are currently ahead of them but don’t have that level of accuracy, buy-in, commitment or vision. If the team with this vision starts to apply themselves outside of set practise times with the same approach, as well as including their own customised mental gym programme (In effect using the Raising Talent System), then we are really accelerating.
So the following exercise is the most effective way to let go of as much of the handbrake as possible. It is still very possible that individual team members have some element of handbrake behaviour after the exercise; however repeated use of the exercise will likely help them with that handbrake over time. (There are tools to let go of the rest of the handbrake immediately, however that is for another article and requires different techniques) So in effect you can make a significant handbrake difference in a short space of time. From an accelerator point of view, this exercise may also kick start the rate of trained ability growth of your team, however only if you use it consistently and persevere until your trained ability has caught up with your ambition. You have to keep your winning focus, attitude and intensity over time, even if you aren’t in fact winning.
The exercise: Supercharging your Team’s vision
Divide your team into three groups. Ask each group to choose one person as a speaker, and let the group know that a second, surprise speaker, will be chosen by the other two teams once the first speaker is “on stage” and ready to speak. Both speakers will be required to speak to the room as a team. This keeps everyone in the group participating and focused, especially the guys who don’t normally focus, as they suspect their buddies will shout their name out as a nomination when the time comes.
Each team is asked to brainstorm, to come up with a 30 second highlight movie of the team performing at their best, during what they consider to be the most important upcoming game of the season. There are a few rules for this movie.
Your Team Dream needs to be:
1) Detailed – what does it sound like, look like, feels like, smells like during the key moments of the game.
2) About the performance, whilst the game is live.
3) Acknowledge reality- identify the top 3 obstacles you will have to overcome and the actions/behaviours that will be needed to overcome each obstacle.
4) Not too long – Each team has 10 minutes to prepare and 5 minutes to present.
Once all 3 teams have had their 10 minute prep, invite the speaker up “on stage” to the front of the room. Then ask the other two teams to shout out the name of who they want as the surprise speaker. Get that person up on stage and give the instructions that you are looking for a team effort and their job is to captivate the room with their movie, to make it a Hollywood experience and at the end of their combined story telling everyone is going to vote on what they thought about the movie. (Best movie of the 3 teams presentations wins – That movie is then supercharged; sometimes the winning movie is a combination of the 3 that emerges)
How to vote: After hearing a movie everyone in their audience raises a single hand to vote. Hand up with 5 fingers showing – loved it, it is amazing! 4 fingers – very good. 3 fingers – needs some work. 2 fingers -average. 1. Finger (middle finger) not a chance. Get a rough average of what the room thinks about each movie.
Once each team has presented and you have discovered the winning movie it’s time to supercharge that movie. The key skill in supercharging the movie is in creating layers of meaning. (Using a process called Meta-Stating, that was developed by Dr L.Michael Hall)
How to supercharge the movie:
- Ask the relevant (winning) team’s speaker to share the best part of the best movie so that everyone can visualise it again, wait until everyone has that movie in their mind (ask each individual to give you a nod when they do.) Then you ask the group one question, “So having that, what will it mean for you?” Before you ask the question, give the instruction that you are looking for one answer from anyone in the team and that they can shout it out.
- Once you have your first “What does that mean to you?” answer, write it down at the bottom of a whiteboard/flipchart. Then ask again, “So what else does it mean to you?” twice more; getting two more answers from two different people, and writing those down at the bottom of the flipchart/whiteboard next to the first meaning. Now that you have got 3 meanings, you have your first layer – and here comes the key part – you need to create another layer of meaning about the previous layer of meaning.
- Now Feedback to the group the first layer; “So what will having, Meaning 1, Meaning 2, Meaning 3 mean to you?” Or more likely, “So what will having pride, satisfaction and hope mean for you?” (for example) again you are looking for one answer, that will be the first meaning of layer 2. Write that meaning above the first three meanings on the flipchart/whiteboard. Get two more meanings from two different people by asking, “So what else will it mean for you? (having meaning 1, meaning 2 and meaning 3)” and then you have completed layer 2.
- Start on Layer 3 by asking the team, “So having Meaning 4, Meaning 5, Meaning 6 – what will that mean for you?” or more likely, “So having Ambition, belief and excitement, what will that mean for you?, then ask the so “what else will it mean for you” to get two more meanings to complete the layer.
- Keep on going till you have at least 5 layers. Give your team a bit of time to come up with the answers and don’t let one guy give them all, as you get more and more answers, they are likely to be more and more personal and intense – there are no wrong answers. By layering the meaning you are adding energy to the movie and increasing its positive power for the team.
Your Flipchart may look something like this:
Meaning 13, Meaning 14, Meaning 15
Meaning 10, Meaning 11, Meaning 12
Meaning 7, Meaning 8, Meaning 9
Meaning 4, Meaning 5, Meaning 6
Meaning 1, Meaning 2, Meaning 3
Once you have finished the five layers, ask everyone to play the winning movie in their mind again and give them a little time to play it, then feedback to them their meanings – so guys what you have shared is when you play that movie, when you experience that it means “meaning 1” and “Meaning 2” and “Meaning 3” and that gives you “Meaning 4” and “Meaning 5” …
Once you have finished going through that, ask each team member to share what they got from the movie exercise, and go around the room.
Optional: “Okay guys now that we know that we are going for this dream and what it means to us – and we know that having a dream doesn’t guarantee us the result, it depends on how hard and smart we work to give us the best possible chance to experience that dream movie, what do we need to do different and better to give us the best chance to live that dream – to make it true?”
Benefits – there are both handbrake and accelerator benefits to this exercise:
The key benefit of Supercharging your dream movie is that for 9 guys of 10 they can now play that movie in their mind to get into their Zone to perform and train at their best. Mood unlocks skill. They might have events that pop them out of their zone (mistakes, bad decisions, etc) and those “fly in the ointment” moments can be removed with other techniques, however for now, just by playing the movie again, should reset the mood of most back to their high performance mood over time.
Remind the guys to play their movie before training and a game and during a game when their focus and/or mood dips. If during training the whole team dips, have a time-out to get them to play their movie to reset. If you train with this movie in mind you push down the accelerator. The other side benefit is that for many people, seeing is believing, so every time they play their awesome movie, that performance becomes slightly more possible and the hundreds of repetitions of positive movies can shift what the team believes is possible for them. There are other techniques to change beliefs quicker; however this is the simplest most powerful way to start.
Have fun with this