Checkin DECK an invitation for presence and connection            Chris Marcell Murchison            Vice President for St...
why this book ?Checkin  contents   getting acquainted                                      DEC K                          ...
why this book?We spend so much time and energy at                At HopeLab, we experiment with creating awork. For most o...
a note on facilitationThis is a collection of check-in exercises that   My advice to facilitators is this:we have borrowed...
DEC K                                                01   i am...                                                02   fort...
TOOLSHANDOUTS  PENS                                D E CK   01           i am...           getting a                   acq...
DECK             i am...  gettingacquainted                                        01     I have used this exercise a coup...
TOOLS   D e s i gned, p rinted and     folded    For tune     TellersFor a copy of ourtemplate, go toour blog post atblog....
DECK             fortune teller                         This exercise is a “riff” off of a childhood game called  gettinga...
TOOLSa ss or ted  fabri c samples                                       D E CK   03              jeffry’s fabrics         ...
DECK             jeffry’s fabric  gettingacquainted                                        03We always begin our HopeLab b...
a welcoming                           DECK                                       getting                                  ...
TOOLS                This is a fun activity which allows for a                maximum number of introductions in ac hi me ...
concentric                             DECK                  circles                                                      ...
DEC K                                                06   a tea exercise                                                07...
TOOLS t e a balls                                                                              Our President, Pat Christen...
DECK                     a tea exercise                                  	   •   Share a memory your tea inspires –“This t...
TOOLS                       Several years ago, we began q ues ti ons                       experimenting with a wellness p...
energy                         DECKinviting             check-in                       07     Who am I becoming? Do I feel...
TOOLS                                                                                        DECK                         ...
TOOLS                                                                                       DECK                          ...
TOOLS                                                    painting a                              DECK                     ...
DEC K                                                11   give an authentic gift                                          ...
give an                               DECK                                                 authentic gift                 ...
TOOLS                                 In our health and wellness program at                d ec orat iv e                o...
engaging                                    DECK                   the spirit                                  12diving de...
TOOLS                                                                                      DECK                           ...
In the summer of 2011, I took part in                                                                                     ...
TOOLS                              The purpose behind this exercise is to                              provide a means for...
finding your                            DECK                                                                 4	 On the bac...
DEC K                                                  16   letter to self                                                ...
TOOLS                     Sometimes in meetings or retreats, theen evelopes                     day ends with some learnin...
DECK                 letter to selfreflecting and    closing                                                         16   ...
TOOLS                                                                                                  DECK               ...
TOOLS                                                                                                DECK                 ...
one-word-at                         DECK                                        reflecting and                            ...
Why is this work important to me?                I grew up in a military family. We moved many times during               ...
This project is inspired from 30 years of experience with                  check-in exercises – from the many workshops, r...
In the late 1980s, HopeLab founder Pam Omidyar spent        her days as a research assistant in an immunology lab.        ...
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Check-in Deck

  1. 1. Checkin DECK an invitation for presence and connection Chris Marcell Murchison Vice President for Staff Development and Culture HopeLab
  2. 2. why this book ?Checkin contents getting acquainted DEC K 01 – 05 inviting presence 06 – 10 diving deeper 11 – 15 reflecting and closing 16 – 19 about Chris
  3. 3. why this book?We spend so much time and energy at At HopeLab, we experiment with creating awork. For most of us, it is is a major part of culture where the whole person is nurtured. We believe that under the right conditions – anlife yet we often speak of it as somehow environment of connection, respect, integrity,separate from “life” as we strive for work / learning, and joy – the exquisite humans in ourlife balance. This is a false dichotomy. Work organization have the opportunity to flourish and, as a result, our business will too. It just might beis fully a part of life. Non-work and work – that the workplace has the greatest potential toit is all life, to be interwoven and integrated, improve how we relate to each other, transformingrather than separate and balanced. the workplace and, by extension, the world.The workplace is a perfect laboratory for What you have before you is a collection of ourpracticing new ways of relating to one most creative and memorable check-in activities atanother and to ourselves. HopeLab, divided into four categories: Getting Acquainted, Inviting Presence, Diving Deeper, and Reflecting and Closing. We offer this book as a invitation for you to transform your own workplace. Check-ins are a great first step! Let us know what you learn and how you experiment with and improve upon our ideas. Enjoy!
  4. 4. a note on facilitationThis is a collection of check-in exercises that My advice to facilitators is this:we have borrowed, customized or designed Ease in. Similar to a social gathering, people oftenfor our own use. I expect you will want to do benefit from some simple structure to help them feel comfortable, to open up, and to meaningfully connectthe same. with each other.Every group dynamic is unique, with different Innovate. Re-craft or revise the exercises to meet the needs of your group.players, needs and interests. You know yourgroup best – their personalities, balance of Improvise. Experiment and have fun with it! It’s not world peace, it’s a check-in exercise. Take some risks,extraversion / introversion, openness, make some mistakes, be willing to shift course. Mostwillingness to take risks, etc. So, mold these importantly, play around with the ideas and have fun.exercises to your group’s needs. You’ll be amazed at the energy you’ll unleash! Engage. Try to engage multiple senses. If an experience can connect to the head, heart and gut participants are more likely to experience it in a deeper way. Bring it! Bring your whole self to these exercises. It is not about perfection, it is about showing up and being your most creative self. In this way you and your exercises will be more compelling.
  5. 5. DEC K 01 i am... 02 fortune teller 03 jeffry’s fabrics 04 a welcoming exercise 05 concentric circlesMany people are a little bashful in groups, particularly when they are new.This shyness often translates to hesitance, awkwardness and reticence. Whenmultiplied, it can make a group experience less collaborative, less productiveand downright painful. Introducing some structured activities to help groupmembers get acquainted can make all the difference. Creating space for thisconnection can open the doorway for greater openness, trust and interest andallow your group to thrive.getting acquainted
  6. 6. TOOLSHANDOUTS PENS D E CK 01 i am... getting a acquainted
  7. 7. DECK i am... gettingacquainted 01 I have used this exercise a couple of times at HopeLab and with great success. It’s fun and invites self-reflection, inquiry and connection through new, shared insights.Many acquaintance exercises stop at“silly.” Being in a new group can be 1 Create handouts that are 10 sentence completions – alluncomfortable and icebreakers experienced starting with “I am .”as nerve wracking, so it can be tempting tohurry through them or to keep them 2 Distribute the handouts and pens and give participants 3-5 minutes to complete all 10 sentences (typically, as yousuperficial. However, in our experience, progress you get beyond the obvious responses and begin toif you push through discomfort you are reveal more interesting or meaningful things about yourself). If this is a new group, or one with some new members, thelikely to learn so much more about your first “I am ” can be completed with the person’s name.peers / colleagues and even yourself. 3 Have participants mingle silently about the room for 3-5 minutes, looking at each other’s lists. Participants can hold up their lists in front of them as shown in the photo. 4 Then ask participants to find a partner, share his/her list and allow the listener to ask questions to learn more. 5 After both partners have shared (3 - 5 minutes in total), ask participants to find a new partner and repeat the exercise. 6 Complete as many rounds as time allows.
  8. 8. TOOLS D e s i gned, p rinted and folded For tune TellersFor a copy of ourtemplate, go toour blog post atblog.hopelab.org(May 31, 2012) 1 2 D E CK 02 3 4 5 fortune teller 6 7 8 getting acquainted 9
  9. 9. DECK fortune teller This exercise is a “riff” off of a childhood game called gettingacquainted 02 Fortune Teller or Cootie Catcher. We crafted this exercise, full of fun and provocative questions, to help conference attendees meet and get acquainted. Fortune Teller design templates and folding instructions are easily available online.We created this exercise for the 2012 To play:Wisdom 2.0 Business conference in SanFrancisco. The intention was to creatively 1 Have one partner (A) hold the Fortune Teller.help the 400+ participants connect with 2 The other partner (B) chooses one of the outer words.each other and experience the value of Our outer words were values.check-in exercises. 3 Partner A spells out the word, opening and closing the Fortune Teller horizontally then vertically with each letter as they spell out the word. 4 When finished spelling the word, four inner words will be revealed. Partner B chooses one of them. Our inner words were emotions. 5 Partner A lifts up that panel and reveals and reads the question there that relates to the chosen emotion. 6 Partner B responds and thus ensues a fun “get to know you” conversation! If time allows, instructing participants to fold their own Fortune Tellers would be a fun addition to this exercise.
  10. 10. TOOLSa ss or ted fabri c samples D E CK 03 jeffry’s fabrics getting acquainted
  11. 11. DECK jeffry’s fabric gettingacquainted 03We always begin our HopeLab boardmeetings with a check-in exercise.Since we only meet a few times each year,the check-ins are a nice opportunity tore-connect with each other. Jeffry, a 1 Collect a diverse selection of fabric samples.businessman and interior designer who Spread them out on your meeting table.serves on our board, devised thiswonderful exercise. 2 Ask participants to choose one they like. 3 In a go-round, have participants share what appealed to them about the particular fabric they chose (its pattern, texture, etc.) and how this fabric might represent something about them or their role in the group. Note: When we did this exercise, one participant creatively drew upon the list of materials and other information (like fire retardance) on the back of the fabric sample label for inspiration. Delightful!
  12. 12. a welcoming DECK getting exercise 04 acquainted In any organization the introduction and orientation of new team members is an important and highly leveraged opportunity. Take advantage of it! Doing this well allows for quick connection, immersion and productivity. Our Research and Product Development team came up with a fun way to do this. After general introductions by all team members, have each existing staff member introduce themselves and share the following: DECK 04 1 Share 1 or 2 things you have learned at work. 2 Share 1 or 2 things that you do in your role that youa welcoming never expected.exercise 3 Name a “super-power” of one other person in the group, something they do really well and seemingly effortlessly. This exercise has been an effective way to introducegetting acquainted new staff members to the areas of expertise of their new colleagues. It is also a great way to illuminate for all team members the amazing talents in the group.
  13. 13. TOOLS This is a fun activity which allows for a maximum number of introductions in ac hi me or short amount of time. I like this exercise bell because the questions can be tailored to the group – focusing on basic introductions or infused with more serious questions related to the content of your meeting or questions designed to elicit deeper sharing. D E CK 05 concentric circles getting acquainted
  14. 14. concentric DECK circles Some Sample Questions getting acquainted 05 • What vegetable do you most resemble? • Which of the four seasons do you most enjoy? If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, 1 • Divide the group into two. which show would you choose?2 Create two circles, with equal numbers of people, • You can cast any actor alive or dead to play you in a film about your life. Whom would you cast in the role?one inner and one outer - the inner circle facing outwardand the outer circle facing inward. Each person should be • If you could have one superpower, which wouldopposite and paired with one other. you choose?3 The facilitator poses the first question to the • What’s the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them?group. Each person in a pair takes turns answering thequestion. The listening partner does so actively, • If you could be any age again for one week, what age asking questions for clarification or deeper understanding would you be?where appropriate. • If you could have another occupation for one week, what occupation would you choose?4 After about 5 minutes close the conversations (a • What was your favorite toy as a kid?chime or non-offensive bell is handy) and then ask theinner circle to rotate clockwise by 3-5 people so they are • What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?facing a new partner. • If you could have personally witnessed one event in5 Pose the second question and so on. history, what would you want to have seen? • What did you want to grow up to be when you were little?6 Conduct as many rounds as time allows.
  15. 15. DEC K 06 a tea exercise 07 energy check-in 08 seuss 09 pot-shots 10 paint a postcardIn our busy worlds of work tasks and projects, email, texting, cell phones,etc., it is easy to be distracted when entering a meeting. Our minds cancontinue to race with distracting thoughts throughout the meeting. Bringingattention to this, and creating an opportunity for group members to “pressthe pause button,” can help them focus their attention and be presentfor the task at hand and to the relationships in the room. As a result, yourmeeting is likely to be more engaging and yield greater results.inviting presence
  16. 16. TOOLS t e a balls Our President, Pat Christen, asked me to create and facilitate a check-in exercise for a Board meeting –d ecorati ve boxes, as sor ted something centered around tea or a tea tea ceremony. This is what I came up with! Lorem ipsum  dolo r sit sed diam nonu  am mmy et,   nib co h e ns uis ec mo tet d t ue inc r a idu di nt  u pi t l sc a ing   or   ee tp rinted tea quotes D E CK 06 a tea exercise inviting presence
  17. 17. DECK a tea exercise • Share a memory your tea inspires –“This tea inviting presence 06 reminds me of .” 7 In closing, invite participants to make and enjoy a cup of “their” tea sometime in the near future and be1 reminded of the exercise and their inspired memory. Prepare small boxes that contain tea balls filled witha variety of fragrant teas. Wrap each tea ball in tissuepaper and place one in each box along with a tea-relatedquote (see samples quotes). I like to use a decorative box,wrapped beautifully, so it looks curious and inviting. Sample Tea-Related Quotes2 Start by asking participants to take three deep As a practice, tea can be a source of pleasure for a lifetime. It is a way to focus, to center. In a world constantly telling you to hurry up, it is thebreaths – to “press the pause button” on any distracting easiest way to slow down. – Norwood Pratt, New Tea Lovers Treasurythoughts and to bring focus and attention to the exercise.    Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy,3 Ask participants to notice the box in front of them. doesn’t try it on. – Billy Connolly (Actor)Then invite them to unwrap and open their box. ...She had that brand of pragmatism that would find her the first4 Have participants quietly read the quote inside. brewing tea after Armageddon. – Clive Barker, Weave-World   Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. And whoever this “Earl Grey” fellow is, I’d like5 Then have participants hold the tea ball to their to have a word with him… – Jean-Luc Picard, Star Treknose and take in the aroma of their tea. Ask them to Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts ofquietly reflect on what they smell and what memories solitude and the pleasures of company. – Author Unknown   are evoked. There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished6 In a go-round, ask participants to: by a nice cup of tea. – Bernard-Paul Heroux (Philosopher)   • Read aloud their quote. May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and • Describe the aroma of their tea. all your heart might desire. – Old Irish Blessing  
  18. 18. TOOLS Several years ago, we began q ues ti ons experimenting with a wellness program on ahandout or at HopeLab called HOGS (health and fli pchar t ( o pti onal) other good stuff). The program focuses on engagement and energy management in four dimensions – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy. D E CK 07 energy check-in inviting presence
  19. 19. energy DECKinviting check-in 07 Who am I becoming? Do I feel a sense of purpose today?presence Where? How? What rituals might I create that would give me a greater sense of meaning in my life? What am I thinking? What is in my head? Is there a pattern to the thoughts in my busy mind? Am I able to maintain focusPeriodically, we find it helpful for staff to or am I consistently distracted? How might I bring more focuscheck-in on how they are managing and to my attention?investing their physical, emotional, What am I feeling? What emotion/s am I feeling right now?mental and spiritual energy. The following How consistent with my personal values are my emotionalare some questions we’ve posed for this responses in any given situation? Are my responses different at work than at home? If so, how? How much nega-purpose, some of them drawn from the tive energy am I experiencing – defensiveness,book The Power of Full Engagement, by frustration, anger*, fear, resentment, envy? How might IJim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. redirect this energy in a more positive direction? What am I sensing? How does my body feel right now? What physical sensations do I notice? How are the choices I am making – my habits of nutrition, exercise, sleep, and the balance of stress and recovery – affecting my physical energy? What choices might help me maximize my physical energy to fuel my engagement and my goals? * Note – anger is not necessarily a negative emotion! In fact, the expression of anger can sometimes be highly creative, supportive and beneficial for self and others.
  20. 20. TOOLS DECK seuss inviting presence 08 quote cards In our 2012 strategic plan, presented to our Board, HopeLab’s Management Team got creative and used Dr. Seuss’s Horton as a muse to tell the story of our work for the coming year. As a check-in for the board meeting I collected a variety of Dr. Seuss quotes (there are hundreds available online!) and created cards out of them. We spread the cards out on the meeting table and conducted the following exercise: Ask participants to browse the selection and pick two cards: 08 • One to describe how they are feeling at year’s end DECK and another that reflects their thoughts or feelings about the year ahead. • In a go-round, have participants read each quote then describe why they chose it.seuss For us, this exercise proved to be a creative and meaningful opportunity for reflection and sharing, perfect for a year-end planning meeting.inviting presence While Seuss quotes worked for us, any collection of funny, provocative or inspiring quotes would work well. You could also use this exercise at any time of the year to inspire thoughtful reflection.
  21. 21. TOOLS DECK pot-shots inviting presence 09 P ot-Shot cards Over the course of 40 years, Ashleigh Brilliant has produced a vast archive of original thoughts, each one expressed in 17 words or less. She calls her cards “Pot-Shots” or “Brilliant Thoughts” and they are designed to “hit” you in your heart, brain or funny bone - or perhaps all three. She has amassed a collection of over 10,000 cards to date and they can be ordered at ashleighbrilliant.com. We have our own box of Pot Shot cards (a very large one) and use them regularly. They are a creative way to access people’s DECK 09 thoughts and feelings. Here’s how we use them: 1 Scatter an assortment of cards on your meeting table and ask participants to pick one that says something aboutpot-shots them, something they are willing to share with the group. To set more context, the instruction could include how people are feeling in general today; how they are feeling about work today; about the week/month/year ahead; about a particular team dynamic or the status of a project; etc. Allow 3-5inviting presence minutes for participants to choose a card. 2 In a go-round, have participants read their card aloud and then share with the group why they selected it.
  22. 22. TOOLS painting a DECK inviting postcard 10 presence Watercolor PAI NTSETS In crafting an exercise, it is often helpful to think about the use of different senses and imagery, not just words, to tap into everyone’s creativity. Watercolor p o s tcards Pat Christen concocted this exercise as a board meeting check-in with the caveat that “no talent is required.” With this disclaimer, we all painted away and, not surprisingly, produced some lovely art! The process was quite joyful. Pat then mailed pens the cards to each of us at the address we provided. Receiving the postcard in the mail several weeks later was a sweet reminder of the exercise and of our time together. DECK 10 1 Gather watercolor postcards and small watercolor sets. p os tage stamps Have these, plus small cups of water and paper towels, at each participant’s place setting. 2 Pose the following question to the group for inspiration:paint a postcard Coming into this meeting, how do you intend to “show up” or be present? 3 Have participants draw/paint their response to thisinviting presence question. (10-15 minutes) 4 When completed, in a go-round, have participants share their postcards and describe what they created and its significance to them. 5 At the end of the exercise, have participants self-address their postcards. Collect and mail them at a later date of your choosing.
  23. 23. DEC K 11 give an authentic gift 12 engaging the spirit 13 busy 14 story spine 15 finding your geniusWhen a group has been working together for a while and is wellacquainted, there is an opportunity to create even deeper and moremeaningful connections. Taking this opportunity requires greater riskfor group members but offers greater reward.diving deeper
  24. 24. give an DECK authentic gift 11 diving deeper We have been experimenting a lot with the power of improvisation. I crafted this exercise as an opportunity for group participants to acknowledge and appreciate each other. 1 Gather participants in a circle. 2 Have the group take a moment to be still with each other. A short breathing exercise is useful, e.g., have the group breathe in and out together, each to the count of five. DECK 11 3 Have participants consider the person on their left – How have you experienced this person so far in the group’s timegive an together? What have you observed? What have you learned? What seems important to him/her? What have you seen thisauthentic gift person struggle with? 4 With the above in mind, craft an imaginary gift to give to this person.diving deeper 5 To demonstrate, start with yourself, and give your imaginary gift to the person on your left, acting out the process of giving it and describing the gift and why you chose it to give. 6 Continue the gift giving around the circle until the last gift is given to you.
  25. 25. TOOLS In our health and wellness program at d ec orat iv e or n a m en t HopeLab, we pay specific attention to the or box ways we invest and use energy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. A long-time friend and organization con- PA P E R sultant, Susan Edsall, created this “spirit” exercise as part of one of our staff retreats. The personal notes produced in the PEN exercise were stuffed into handmade ceramic ornaments for safekeeping. TheDE CK 12 ornament could be broken open at someengaging future point to reveal and remind you of your reflections. Our beautiful claythe spirit ornaments were crafted by our artist friend Sheri Jarvis (sherimjarvis.com) but any decorative container could be used.diving deeper
  26. 26. engaging DECK the spirit 12diving deeper 3 Participants should respond to this sentence stem over and over again with various versions or possibilities until they start hitting on something that really rings true. They might feel a surge of energy1 Set the context for the exercise. Referencing our or emotion at that moment.clay ornaments, we made the analogy that thesebeautiful objects were once just a lump of wet brown 4 At the end of the 30-minute free-write, haveclay, but were turned into objects of beauty through participants choose a piece of origami paper or otherthe devoted attention of the artist - thinking of the lightweight paper and write their clarified purposeshape, forming the clay, carving it, firing the ornament, statement on it. Then they should roll the paper into aglazing it and firing it again. It is a detailed and lengthy tight scroll and put it in the hole of the ornament or inprocess, riddled at various times with error, excitement, the container you have provided.tedium, exploration, discovery, satisfaction,  disappointment, and discipline. 5 Encourage participants to place their ornament wherever they can see it daily or in a place that is ofThe same is true of the intention we bring to our special significance so it reminds them of the exerciseown lives. and of their life purpose and the kind of intention that is necessary to bring it to pass.  2 Ask participants to commit to 30 minutes ofcontinued “free writing” with no editing or criticismallowed. Assure them that they will not be asked to Insert purpose here.share anything that they write unless they want to.The free writing stem is:“The purpose of my life is....”
  27. 27. TOOLS DECK busy diving deeper 13 q ues ti ons on a handout or Over the course of one year, I noticed a pattern of staff fli pchar t ( o pti onal) remarking about how “busy” they were, and not always in a good way. I was curious about this, about the cause of this busy-ness, how we might be creating these burdensome conditions ourselves, and how we might PAPER un-busy ourselves to create a more intentional and satisfying workload and life. I crafted the following questions after reflecting upon my own PEN busy-ness. I posed these questions for individual reflection and then group discussion in a Management Team meeting DECK 13 during a strategic planning session. The intent was to be sure we (individually and collectively) were not creating completely unattainable goals for the year ahead.busy What is your relationship to being busy? • • What might you get out of being busy? • How do you know when you are too busy, when you have slipped from being busy to being overwhelmed? • How might others know or recognize when you arediving deeper too busy? • What are the consequences of being too busy? • What typically gets back-burnered when you are busy? • What might be the consequences of that – for you? Your colleagues? The organization?
  28. 28. In the summer of 2011, I took part in DECK an intensive four-day improvisation workshop. In it I discovered the story spine powerful principles of improv and diving deeper 14 how they apply not only on the stage but in life. We used a version of this exercise in a staff retreat, as a way to illuminate how easy it is to create unhelpful stories about situations in the workplace and in life. The Story Spine exercise can help you uncover the TOOLS impact of your stories. 1 Divide the group into triads. 2 Have each person share a story following the outline below. Stories about a conflict or something that “bugs” you q ues ti ons on a DECK 14 are particularly useful and instructive. handout or • Once upon a time… fli pchar t ( o pti onal) • It was… • So every day…story spine • And because of that... • And because of that… • And because of that… • Until finally… • And the moral of this story is…diving deeper 3 After each person has shared a story, the triad can debrief with the following inquiry: • Is this story a familiar one in your life? How? • How does telling this story help you? How might it not be helpful? 4 After each triad has completed their storytelling and debriefing, discuss the exercise in the larger group by asking for any reflections, ah-ha’s or things learned.
  29. 29. TOOLS The purpose behind this exercise is to provide a means for participants to identify ar t their “genius” through a process of discovery. p o s tcards, q u esti ons on a We crafted a series of tasks to help people h a ndout or flipchar t illuminate times and activities when they felt ( o pti onal) they were in “flow” (a term coined by Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi). Flow is a state of paper concentration or complete absorption with an activity, so much that you might ignore or forget about time, eating, etc. It is a time paper when you are completely involved in an DECK 15 activity for its own sake and you’re using your skills to the utmost.finding your When you are in flow there is a freedom togenius express, to just be, without fear of external motivation or judgment. In this space you are likely to be expressing genius, the naturaldiving deeper talents or gifts you have. This exercise is designed to help you discover your genius and how you might create opportunities to express it even more!
  30. 30. finding your DECK 4 On the back of the art card, participants genius 15 should write down what they see as thediving deeper thread between their flow experiences? These might be: • A common activity1 Ask participants to reflect on times in their lives when • Common kind of companion • Certain skills or talents being usedthey were in a state of “flow.” • A certain kind of motivation • To help, think about specific periods of life – • A shared emotion First decade - Birth to 10 years Second decade - 11 to 20 years 5 What is the genius being expressed? Third decade - 21 to 30 years Fourth decade - 31 to 40 years 6 In small groups (no more than 4 people): Fifth decade - 41 to 50 years • Share the common characteristics you discovered • For each decade, write down things you did that were about your “flow” experiences (share as much/little as a “flow” experience. Write down as many as you can you like) think of. • What does this imply about your genius?2 Scatter a variety of art postcards on the floor. • In what ways might you use your genius more?For postcards, go for the greatest diversity you can find – • Note - others in the group should listen attentively and art genres, subject matter, etc. then respond to what they have heard – Does what you 3 Ask participants to have heard make sense to you, given how you know this person? What might you add?choose an art card fromthe floor that seems to 7 In the large group, have participants share what struckrepresent all that they them as interesting or helpful in this exercise.just wrote down.
  31. 31. DEC K 16 letter to self 17 you are... 18 in a box 19 one-word-at-a-time wisdomProviding space at the end of a meeting or retreat for reflection allows forlearning and creates an opportunity for participants to think about howthey can apply and sustain what they have learned. It is a powerful pausethat supports impact.reflecting and closing
  32. 32. TOOLS Sometimes in meetings or retreats, theen evelopes day ends with some learning to practice or some goal to achieve. A check-out exercise can remind and encourage PAPERs participants of these intentions. PEN D E CK 16 letter to self reflecting and closing
  33. 33. DECK letter to selfreflecting and closing 16 Below is a reaction from one of our staff members to receiving her card to herself months later: “On my refrigerator door hangs the note I wrote to my childIn one particular staff retreat, our group self at the retreat.  I wrote that note at a time in my life whenspent time discovering our “genius,” I was struggling with a major life decision, and I knew I was inour individual core talents, and reflecting for a challenging road ahead, no matter the decision I made. on how we can express this more in our Writing that note was a powerful exercise in the moment –personal lives and work. We ended the day it helped me to ground myself in love and let the decisionswith this exercise: I was struggling with flow from this space. And then to read it a few weeks ago, wow.  What a blessing and a reminder that1 Imagine you see yourself as a child standing despite how painful a situation can be, when rooted in love,before you. it’s all worth it. ”2 Given our work today, and what you have learnedabout your self and your genius, what advice would yougive to unleash this child’s (your) genius?3 Write down what you’d say on the provided card.When done, insert the card in an envelope and address itto yourself.4 Facilitator – collect the envelopes from everyone andmail them at a future date of your choosing.
  34. 34. TOOLS DECK you are... reflecting and closing 17 o n e pos ter p er pers on This exercise is a nice follow-up to the “I am” check-in activity. At the end of a meeting or retreat, this exercise is a nice way for participants to affirm each other. p en/ marker 1 Create posters, one for each participant, with their name at the top. 2 Tape the posters around the room, allowing ample space between posters. 3 Distribute pens or markers and instruct participants to DECK 17 make their way around the room, writing an affirmation for each team member. Depending upon the content of your meeting, this exercise could be framed in different ways: • A skill, strength or competency observedyou are... • A contribution this person has made to the team • Something you appreciate about the person 4 The length of the exercise will depend upon the number of participants. A helpful formula might be 30 secondsreflecting and closing multiplied by the total number of participants. 5 At the end of the exercise, have participants take down their poster and review the comments their peers have made. 6 The exercise might be debriefed as a large group, asking participants to share what it was like to write the comments and to receive them.
  35. 35. TOOLS DECK in a box reflecting and closing 18 b o x, random obj ects ( m ore than I love this exercise. It is so random and so interesting n u mber of par ti ci pants) to see what people come up with! 1 Collect a variety of random, varied objects and place them in a box. 2 At the close of your meeting, have each participant blindly select an item from the box. 3 Instruct participants to reflect on how their chosen object 18 might represent what they learned in the meeting or how they DECK will use the meeting’s content in the future. 4 In a go-round, have participants share what their object is and their answers to the questions.in a box 5 You can let folks keep their object if you like, as a fun reminder of the day. My craziest box object was a fart machine with a remotereflecting and closing control. When the lucky person who drew this object was about to report out, I made it “fart” which greatly amused our group!
  36. 36. one-word-at DECK reflecting and a-time wisdom 19 closing Here’s another improv activity inspired by a game called Proverbs in which participants invent a new proverb by speaking it one person and one word at a time. I have adapted the exercise to be a group reflection on the outcomes or learning from a meeting or retreat. 1 Have participants stand or sit in a circle. 2 Ask the group to reflect quietly for a moment on the day DECK 19 and what they learned. 3 Then have one person start by saying one word. The nextone-word-at- person in the circle (going clockwise or counter-clockwise)a-time wisdom adds the next logical word to what was just said. 4 Continue around the circle until a “wisdom” has been completed. At that point, the whole group claps, supporting the wisdom, and then the next person in the circle starts areflecting and closing new wisdom. Note – like a proverb, wisdoms are intended to be short and wise (or pithy!). Some examples from our team: • Beware of mysterious objects in a box • Check-ins are good for the soul 5 Continue making wisdoms for as long as it makes sense. The activity will move along more smoothly as the group gets the hang of it.
  37. 37. Why is this work important to me? I grew up in a military family. We moved many times during my childhood – between various countries, between rural and urban centers, between ethnically diverse and homogenous communities. This nomadic life left a mark on me and being “new” was a challenge I learned to navigate. Along the way, I developed a keen sense of the actions groups andabout Chris communities can take that can leave one feeling either welcomed or sidelined. From my life experience, I developed a mission to support people feeling welcomed. Check-in exercises are one of the tools I use to accomplish this. Facilitating these exercises has been a tremendous experience for me. I have explored the limits of what works (and doesn’t) and have experimented with many ways of creating positive “energy” in groups. I am proud to be the gardener of the HopeLab community and culture and I give great thanks to my colleagues for their encouragement and openness to grow and create with me. For more information please contact me at cmurchison@hopelab.org. Chris
  38. 38. This project is inspired from 30 years of experience with check-in exercises – from the many workshops, ropes courses, orientation sessions, retreats and other group experiences I have had the privilege to participate in. These experiences have informed my philosophy and practice and I am grateful. Many people have helped me learn this craft. I particularly want to acknowledge the following: • My student affairs professors, mentors and colleagues • The hundreds of students, employees and friends that have engaged in these exercises with me over the yearsAcknowledgments • All the facilitators, trainers and OD professionals that I have observed and learned from • The staff at Bay Area Theater Sports (BATS) in San Francisco • The staff at HopeLab for being the most awesome guinea pigs and co-learners This project would not have been successful without the contributions of: • Diana Chapman for the inspiration to start this project • Sheri Jarvis for her artistic gifts and inspiration • Liz Song for her gift of photography and for capturing so many of our cultural events at HopeLab • Kian Kuan for his well honed design skills • Pat Christen, Susan Edsall and Richard Tate for being the best co-conspirators Many thanks to you all!
  39. 39. In the late 1980s, HopeLab founder Pam Omidyar spent her days as a research assistant in an immunology lab. At night, after hours watching malignant cancer cells multiply under a microscope, she unwound by playing video games with her husband, Pierre Omidyar, the software engineer who went on to found eBay. As a scientist and game enthusiast, Pam began to wonder if giving young cancer patients a chance to blast their cancer in a video game mightabout actually improve their health. In 2001, Pam founded HopeLab to develop and test this concept, which led to our first product, Re-Mission. Today we continue to harness the power and appeal of technology to improve kids’ health. Our most recent product, Zamzee, is a kid-friendly activity meter designed to get kids moving and ultimately help battle the childhood obesity epidemic. Our future work will explore ways to nurture resilience in young people facing adversity. The energy and innovation we use in our product development is equally applied to the tending of our organization culture. Read more about HopeLab’s story at www.hopelab.org.

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