The Power of Positive Thinking
                                                                  A Set of inspiring Corporate Warm-Up Actions You Can DoToGet Back On Your Toes
                                                                                                                            By Leonard Kok


Whether your head is up in the clouds; or under the weather, all of us need to exercise. We also need to think more positive thoughts everyday of our lives, yes?

Cheryl and Mei Fang, two of our very positive staff from Camp Challenge, our business arm dealing with teambuilding programmes for schools, recommend you a set of warm-up exercise, arranged chronologically in the order below, which you can actually do right where you are. This is a set of physical stretches which will also put your heart, spirit and soul right where they should be. We recommend that you gather a bunch of colleagues; people who make your life meaningful, to do this perk-me-up activity. It will make you more resilient.

Are you ready? (You can remove your tie for a while) Let’s GO!

             Do This Action

            Say This Aloud When you do

                                  Action Explanation



                                  Stand with your feet comfortably apart 

                                    and stretch you hands upwards

                                    (Get in touch with your aspirations)



                                From the first position, retract your hands to

                                     your waist level, palm facing upwards

                                   (We must know who we are; our core, in 

                                   order that we can walk on solid ground)


                       From the palms up position, shoot out your

                               hands upwards to your shoulder level

                      (Opportunities abound everyday. Embrace them!)               



                                 (Be open to the ideas and opinions of others –

                                             we don’t have all the answers) 



                                 Cross and fold your arms towards yourself

                    (Don’t sweat the small stuff; do nice things for yourself often)


                                      The classic Kung-Fu fighting stance! 

                                       Ready for the next and final step…

                                        settle for mediocrity; Go for Gold!)


                              From the Kung-Fu stance, lift your left or right leg;

                                           pull your arms back with a

                                                jerk and shout OOSH!

                                                            (Feel good!)

We hope that you have a great time inspiring yourself and your folks at work or even at home with this set of warm-ups! Alternatively, you can focus on each action and in a relaxed and Yoga style, Focus on the statement for each action meditatively, doing it and breathing in deeply at the same time.

I would like to thank Wahid, our Partner, for introducing these set of actions in a programme in 2007.





The usual adult life is as follows: wake up, go to work, back home to rest, wake up again.., go to work again…, back home to rest… and this goes on and on and on.

What’s the meaning of life? This seems to be the question most asked by the Gen Y generation. Interestingly, this is also a very popular question during ‘the mid life crisis’ period.

To some, life begins upon retirement and others, well…. ‘having a life’ is merely a statement thrown around rather than reality.

Having the privilege of encountering people from various nationalities, industries and background, I would have to say that what makes life worth the living is passion.


One of the more interesting definitions given by Webster’s online dictionary for passion is suffering. This brings to the understanding that one is willing to endure suffering in order to fulfil/ satisfy their passion.

Very so often we come across people who would say ‘I am passionate to help the poor’. When asked what have they done about it, some interesting answers would be ‘let me accumulate enough wealth first’, ‘I simply don’t have the time because of work’ or simply… ‘no poor people asked me for help’. Does this sound familiar? At times I suspect we love the idea of it rather than the idea itself.

How then does one differentiate passion from just ‘expressing desire’? If we were to put it in a mathematical formula;

Desire +Action = Passion

Because we are all so uniquely different, the actions taken by different individual may differ significantly in achieving similar passion.

For example, when someone says ‘I am passionate to help the poor’, person A works hard to gain wealth and contribute towards the cause, person B would volunteer time and  work with an organization that reached the poor while person C would simply go about seeking out poor people and taking them out for a simple meal.


Over the years we have systematically either consciously or unconsciously chip away passion from our lives. Why? For the pragmatic reason of not wanting to get hurt or disappointed emotionally or physically. It is like saying “If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t love”

Though the intent is good but the long term effect is a generation of ‘human robots’. I am not disclaiming the importance of rational and pragmatic judgement, rather highlighting how passion armoured with the right skills and knowledge will produce superior results and greater satisfaction.

When was the last time you achieved something that you are not passionate about? Was the satisfaction level ‘out of this world’? Food for thoughts…

So next time when someone aspire to reach the sky, hold back the thought of ‘this is ridiculous’ because Man has walked the moon.

For the pragmatics, here’s the consideration, if skills and knowledge can be easily replicated, wouldn’t passion be the competitive edge since it tends to be unique?


Suffice to say that we act based on our own motivation, not motivation of someone elses. The reason why we find ourselves motivated from a motivational seminar is because the speaker was able to surface our own motivation. This is why not everyone who attends motivational seminars is motivated.

If our value system is like a compass to our vehicle, allow me to suggest that passion is the fuel. Without passion it is like a vehicle running on an empty tank. The vehicle can still reach its destination but probably with the help of a tow truck. Interestingly, does this also mean we need to constantly fuel up our passion? I believe we do because there’s just too many distractions in life and just like how soil loses its nutrient with every batch of produce, if we don’t add nutrient to it, the quality of the next batch would deteriorate systematically.

So how do we fuel up? The simplest and most effective way in my opinion is by recalling those achievement and memorable times when we tasted the fruit of passion. This is probably why pictures and video are very powerful tools.

When was the last time you wanted to do something meaningful for yourself and held back because of many ‘legitimate’ reasons, why not fuel up now and press on?


Rather than looking for something ‘out there’, let’s start by visiting the place where we spend most of our adult life at, our workplace. What differentiates a job from a career? In a manner of tongue in check, a job is when a person goes to work and looks at the clock every now and then hoping it is time to go back. A career is when a person goes to work to accomplish something meaningful only to realize that time has passed.

How does one have passion in their work if the work is merely to fulfil the bosses’ objective? Once you identify your passion, simply ask yourself how would you achieve it? Would it require you to designate certain days at ‘no overtime’ days or saying ‘not today’ for some of your regular group lunches? I have the opportunity to meet some people who had the courage to talk with their superior about their goal to fulfil their passion and were pleasantly surprised that their superior are supportive of their intentions and got them to draft a plan how the organization could make it possible. Go ahead, try it, your superior may be nicer than you think *smiles*

For some of us, achieving our passion may not seem possible in the current environment. This is perhaps because the environment is not supportive of our ‘mission’.  In such situations, if all avenues have been exhausted, perhaps a change of environment, either internally or externally would be a more positive push forward.

Ultimately, infusing or creating a link between our passion and our work not only makes us a more productive worker, it makes us a happier and satisfied person. Not only will this give meaning to what we do, it gives meaning to life in a broader sense even while we are at work.

Now… with this aspiration, when will your life begin?





                                                                                                                           Seeing is believing
                                                                                                                        An article by Ken Chew

What you see is what you get. Most of the time this statement is true and real but from real life experience, we know that this is not absolute. What is real and visible is most of the time intended by someone. What you want others to see, you will show it. From this angle, you will be able to appreciate the first graph presented after collating the results when conducting DISC.

The first graph of DISC is term as a mask. From, it states that a Mask is anything that disguises or conceals; disguise; pretense. So in our context, it will mean the outward representation of ourselves that we want the world to see. Most of the time, this is closely knitted to the expectations of others on oneself. When you are completing the selection of the words that most describe you in a given situation / setting, it is inevitable that subconsciously one will choose the word or phrase that they are expected to choose and be in.

So the significance of knowing more about this Graph 1 will help to identify the conflict and struggle the person has as it is compared to his Private and Perceived Self. Graph 2 shows the Private Self. It is derived from the selection of words / phrases that describe oneself the least in a given situation / setting. In this area, it is also inevitable for one to choose instinctively as it is easier for one to choose what is not them than to choose what is them.  Most of the time when a person is asked to describe him / herself, it is very natural for one to feel tongue tied and ended up saying things that the people around wants to hear, otherwise one will start to give those in between answers that does not have a stand and clarity.

If Graph 1 is significantly different from the other 2 graphs, this means that the person is trying to adept to the situation to meet up to the expectations of others. On the other hand, if the Graph 1 is similar to the other 2 graphs, it means that the person is in a comfortable and stable environment where he / she is able to be themselves and still meet the expectations of others.

Case study:

Graph 1: It shows that this person is a very assertive and proactive person. He is very adaptable and vocal. He will be very used to sharing about his dreams and ambition. Primarily a Task Oriented person but he can be very persuasive in getting people to work instead of just giving orders. He is one who needs little motivation from others. He is driven largely by his / her ambition and dreams.

Graph 2: It shows that when the person is stress, his focus change from being task oriented to being people oriented. The person will interact and his attention to details diminishes drastically. A possibility is that when things become stressful, the person will turn to be more persuasive and try to influence the people around him / her to get things done. He / she will probably enjoy the adrenaline of Last minute task or urgent matters that requires immediate remedy. Besides this, he / she will probably enjoys the victory of doing things differently and achieving results and most of the time, such ideas are generated at the 11th hour.

Graph 3: It is a confirmation of the person’s real-self for its similarity between Graph 2 and Graph 3. This graph is derived by getting the difference in the results from Graph 1 and Graph 2. However, in this 3rd graph, the higher “C” would signify that the person will exhibit more accuracy and detail oriented under normal circumstances.

From this example, if we do not know the person deeper, we might assume that the person is a slave driver and when he wants to do things his way, he will do all he can to persuade you. However, if we understand the person better, we will realize that the person probably is going through some changes and he is acting out what he assumes is expected of him.

Another possibility is the person has very high self awareness that he / she is capable of manipulating his / her behaviour to suit the environment and fulfill his / her expected behaviour. However, under stress, the person will still inevitably switch to his / her most natural or comfortable traits. Hence, explain the discrepancy.

So, is seeing really a reality? That might not be true in some circumstances. As mentioned earlier, under most circumstances, people always bear the intention to show his / her best front and whenever such intention is present, what is real will already be camouflaged. A metal pole can look sturdy but you will not know if there is any crack inside of it until you send it for x-ray, or cut it open to see.
Hence, before we are to make any judgments or decisions, we will need to unpeel what is on the surface to get to the root of it in order to get the facts of reality.




Eureka! – Making Brilliant Ideas Happen
A book review by Joey Ng

‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ – Albert Einstein.

Ideas are generated through imagination. Anyone can imagine because all it takes is to answer the question, ‘What I want’. However, making our ideas viable and practical, answering the question, ‘What I can’, is another matter altogether. This book provides some interesting pointers on how to generate ideas and of course, make them happen!

First and foremost, like other books on creativity and innovation, the author identifies the correlation between creativity and knowledge. The more you know, the more you are likely to generate brilliant ideas and most importantly, make them happen. Research has shown that it took geniuses like Einstein and Mozart around 10 years to come out with their first meaningful creation. It makes all the sense as imagining without substantial knowledge is as wild as it can get. With more experience and skill, your ideas will be more in tune with reality, thus, making it more likely to happen.


Here are other interesting notes I picked up: How to generate ideas?

Whenever you need tobe resourceful in life and to get ideas, you will use your creativity. The urge to create is at the core of what makes us human and is one of the big distinguishing differences that make us members of the dominant species on this planet.

Intelligence is at the heart of creativity. Eureka shed some interesting light between traditional intelligence and creative intelligence. The former is placed as a form of analysis, orientating to ‘one right answer’ and limit itself to what currently exists. The latter, involves synthesizing, evoking feelings and fantasies and speculates on the ‘what might be’. It is creative intelligence’s ‘ability’ to synthesis
ideas in specific context that allows brilliant ideas to happen.

An estimated 5% of our brain is under conscious control, the rest, lies in the unconscious. One of the basic function of the unconscious is it acts like a scanner that helps direct our conscious to where the attention is needed. Our unconscious holds all sorts of learning and tacit knowledge and it is where the brilliant ideas come from. The book includes a few ways to tap on our unconscious, one of it – day dream.

This could sound ironic but how our brain functions limit our creative capacity. Our brain is use to organized and categorizes information, allowing us to quickly and easily make sense of the world around us. Quick responses help us handle potential danger, but also help us misjudge because of the quick connections drawn. Our brain processes and make light of information through comparison of patterns. In this book, patterns are termed as‘constructs’. Constructs are the metaphorical see-saw in our
mind, each end representing the contradicting values we assign… Ok, layman. We are wired to think that things are either black or white. If we are able to dance between the black, white and everything else in between, better ideas can be generated because we can see things from more angles.


How to make ideas happen?

To make your ideas happen you first have to express them out. Some find it difficult to express their ideas because of the lack of confidence, as they do not see themselves as the originator. Originator is, as the name says, the source of the idea. Now, there are 2 kinds of creative listed in one chapter, creative thinking, and creative intelligence. Creative thinking refers to the ability to solve problem. People who are good at this make excellent critics. However, they need something to work with, something to critic, something to solve. Creative intelligence is much more than that. People who are creatively intelligent are able to create something out of nothing, make something happen. Those who fall under the latter category are more likely to make ideas happen because of the confidence they have in themselves and
the deep understanding of their ideas. And it makes sense because the more you know about something, the more likely your idea will take off.

Here’s an experiment to test whether you are more a ‘thinking’ or ‘intelligence’:

On a piece of blank paper, write a story.
If your first response is ‘write about what?’, it means you need a point of origin for reference, thus, you are more ‘thinking’. If without question, you start writing, you are more ‘intelligence.’ To make brilliant ideas happen, you have to see yourself as an originator, someone who brings thing into a blank page.

Another way to make ideas happen is to look at how we get and respond to criticism from other people. Through feedback (a nicer way to term criticism), you will know how far your idea is away from reality. Having a vivid picture of your idea allows you to filter between constructive feedbacks and pure criticisms. It will come handy when you are given constructing views.

Reading this book will not make you an instant genius, but it’s sure a good start to your
next Eureka!




Suppose you only have time to attend either one of these two concurrent talks during a seminar on Leadership:

Option 1 – A Harvard Business School professor who has been teaching leadership for more than thirty years and witness more than 20,000 students walk through his lecture theatre. His profile headline reads ‘Always at the pulse of the latest leadership theories.’

Which would you choose? Many would choose Option 2.

Conceptual Tools – Models, Frameworks and Theories

Facilitators use conceptual tools suchas conceptual models, decisionmakingframeworks and behavioraltheories to explain the psychologicaland scientific aspect of behaviors toparticipant in an easy to understandmanner. In the context of Klob’s four-stage experiential learning cycle, conceptual tools areused by facilitators in the third stage, abstract conceptualization, as a way to connect variouslearning points to summarizes the debrief. Facilitators should equipped themselves with soundknowledge in a wide range of conceptual tools, to help participants understand how theirthinking and actions lead to certain outcomes and also, to explain cause-and-effect events. Thebasic idea behind the use of conceptual tools as part of debriefing is that by explaining complexevents in relatively straightforward cause-and-effect relationships, it increases the likelihood ofparticipants making positive changes, because they now know what they have to do, in order toachieve the outcome they seek.

Besides being used as part of the debriefing process, conceptual tools are also used by many to:

  1. Guide decision making
    2. Make predictions
    3. Systematic review and analysis of behaviours
    4. Offer scientific and rational explanations to events
    5. Simplifies a complex situation
    6. Organize multiple variables in a coherent manner

However, in reality, outside of a controlled environment, relying on conceptual tools alone to understand the real world is not enough. Conceptual tools are after all, merely concepts and broad representation of ideas about human dynamics and their main purpose is to offer the simplest explanation to events and occurrences. But as we all know, the real world is more complex than 4 stages of team performances or 4 types of behaviours. When the rubber meets the road, reality will present challenges that no theories, models and frameworks can fully explain.

Facilitators must be aware of the lmitations of conceptual tools. They need to recognize that the linear idea of cause-and-effect seldom applies in reality and that framework offers rational explanation to behaviours, but humans are highly prone to irrational thinking. It is not that conceptual tools are not important, it is that conceptual tools alone are insufficient.

When the Rubber Meets the Road

A whitepaper published by The Center of Creative Leadership suggested the following ratio ono how leadership is developed – 70% of one’s leadership skill is acquired through actual experiences, 20% through feedback and observation, and 10% institutionally.

Educating oneself about leadership is an important part of leadership development. It enables leaders to learn from others and reflect on their own leadership skill. However, a large proportion of leadership learning comes when leaders apply and ‘do’ leadership, not just read or talk about it. When the rubber meets the road, leaders will experience leadership challenges that no formal training and education will ever teach them. Leading real people and real projects exposes leaders to variables that conceptual models and frameworks tend to over-simplify, overlook and/or understate. Models and frameworks are deliberately kept simple so that it can be easily understood by most, and this indivertibly resulted in a gap between theory and application. Variables leaders will find themselves dealing includes time, perofrmance standards, human emotions, personality differences, up and down stream pressure and the list goes on. These are just factors internal to the team; we have not touch on variables that are outside of leaders’ sphere of influence, such as government policies and technology advancement. While frameworks are available to help leaders manage each variables as a standalone entity, there are no conceptual tools available to manage a collective system of variables, because the interlinked relationships between the variables are too complex to rationalize into structures. As such, the best way for leaders to learn how to lead in the real world is by actual experimentation, by ‘doing’ leadership. The more they ‘do’ leadership, the better they are at dealing with complexity.

Leading real projects means leaders have to deal with the complexity of economics (money, time, asset etc), human factors (greed, incompetency, unmotivated etc) and legal/ethical challenges (policies, moral compass, etc). This means dealing with outcomes that have real consequences on the team. Examples of real consequences include losing money, upsetting people and getting sued. Without real consequences, leaders will never be able to assess the actual impact their decision and actions have on others and the team. It is hard-pressed to think of any other type of feedback that is as forthright as real consequences.

Relating this back to coneptual tools, withou actual application of the tools and benefiting (or suffering) from the ensuing consequences, leaders will never be able to fully understand and appreciate the usefulness (or uselessness) of the conceptual tools they learned.

Discerning Participant

Facilitators must be conscious of the fact that participants themselves have lived through their fair share of real time leadership and teamwork. It can even be argued that most participants experienced more leadership and teamwork than facilitators. Participants are ‘doer’ of leadership and teamwork. To them, leadership and teamwork are more about application and practice than concepts and theories. Conceptual models sound just about right on paper but what really matters to participants is when the rubber meets the road, how do we apply them effectively?

Hence, for the facilitation to be relevant and useful to the participants, facilitators must be able to draw out practical features and uses of the conceptual tools. In-order to do so effectively, facilitators themselves must have experiences with the tools in actual situations. Without real time appllication, facilitators would find it difficult to bridge concept and reality in meaningful ways, leaving them to present the conceptual tools at the theoretical level and suggesting application approaches without considering the challenges participants face in reality. This raises questions on the effectiveness of the facilitation because it is no different from participants reading the models directly from textbooks.

Content Neutrality

To be clear, facilitators do not teach participants how to be a more effective leader or team member. This is a job for trainers, educators and consultants. In the purest sense, facilitators are supposed to be process experts but content neutral. Process experts means that facilitators are skilled and proficient in facilitation principles, methods and conceptual tools. In the context of adventure learning, this also means the activities. Using information such as participant profiles, programme objective and deliverables, facilitators would pick the most suitable processes and design the experience around them.

Content neutrality means that facilitators do not take any positions, advocate for any particular causes nor contribute any content to the discussion. It is easier for facilitators to practice content neutrality in the context of process facilitation than adventure learning due to the nature of post activity debrief, where facilitators are often required to make clear the key learning points of each activity or direct the debrief towards a particular learning outcome. Nonetheless, the main idea of not teaching remains the same in any form of facilitation.

Content neutrality does not mean zero content knowledge. The difference is huge. Zero content knowledge means that facilitators are absolutely clueless about what is being said and discussed. While this will surely ensure content neutrality, it also means that facilitators have no idea if the discussion is moving towards the right direction or it is of any real value to the participants. While facilitators do not contribute to the content, content knowledge remains a key asset because it enables facilitators to be more effective. Facilitators uses their content knowledge to guide the participants towards more meaningful conversations, by asking participants the right questions, surface underlying assumptions and connecting different perspectives. And real-time leadership experience is the content, when the learning outcomes revolve around leadership and team dynamics.

Connecting the Dots

Suppose you have a third option – A Harvard Business School Professor who taught Leadership for fifteen years and is also an entrepreneur with fifteen years of experience leading and building an actual organization.

Would you choose him over the first two options? Many would.

Putting all the key points together, it is hard to dispute with the idea that facilitators are more effective when they have actual experiences with conceptual tools, because it gives them a better sense of reality, and thus, enabling them to draw on more practical and sensible application of the models.

To gain in-depth understanding and knowledge of conceptual tools, facilitators have to read, reflect on what they’ve read and analyze their reading by writing articles. There is no short cut to this. Top facilitators read to get to the top, and top facilitators read to stay at the top. Reflecting and writing on conceptual tools contributes massively to the learning process. Writing reviews and articles ensures a thorough understanding of the conceptual tools learned because it requires the facilitators to analyze the content, identify the key learning points, put them together in a coherent fashion and present their perspectives in a manner that is different from the original content, without losing the main essence. In short, writing increases the breadth and depth of understanding.

As repeated many times here, understanding the tools at the conceptual level is not enough, no matter how in-depth one’s knowledge is. Understanding must be accompanied by real-time application, in order for facilitators to apply the tools effectively. Facilitators can claim to understand the practical aspects of conceptual tools very well because they have practiced them with thousand of participants represented by hundreds of organization. However, are the practices limited to team-based activities in an artificial, controlled environment? Where succeed or fail, it does not make any difference at all? By now, you should get the point.

To gain real-time experiences on conceptual tools, facilitators have to put themselves in actual leadership and management positions. Some facilitators are fortunate enough to lead an organization or two, others will be given opportunities to lead departments, while there will always be ad-hoc projects for the rest to lead. Wherever we are, there is surely someone or something waiting to be led. In short, the opportunities to lead are endless. This bias towards real time leadership experience, instead of merely experience as a team-member, is deliberate because the leadership position allows facilitators to relate to the tools at a higher level, which also translates to a more holistic analysis of the conceptual tools. Facilitators need not necessarily apply the conceptual tools consciously during their decision-making process, in other words, design their thought-process around a particular framework. Facilitators can also learn the practical aspects of the tools by reflecting their past experiences on the concepts. There are many ways to learn the practical aspects of conceptual tools, but the one element that must always be present is real-time experiences.

Would it be a conflict of interest, for facilitators to both pursue deep knowledge in conceptual tools and take on real-time leadership responsibilities at the same time? The answer is categorically no. Instead of conflicting, they are as complementary as it can get. Do facilitators have enough time to do both? The answer is categorically yes. In fact, by doing both, it actually steepened the facilitators’ learning curve because they are learning in a more effective manner. Facilitators have to keep themselves abreast of the latest management and behavioral science thinking and so, they read to gain new knowledge. These conceptual tools require a context to ‘test’ their feasibility and this is where the facilitators’ leadership role comes in. As leaders themselves, facilitators should always be on the lookout for ways to develop their leadership and management skills. This is where the readings of conceptual models come in. Together, reading and application feeds each other to create a self-reinforcing loop.

The effectiveness of an adventure learning programme is determined not by the sum of learning points generated on the spot or the amount of talk that takes place, but by the amount of application that happened after or action taken. Effective facilitation therefore is measured by how well facilitators bridge the gap between learning and application or talk and action.





This article talks about how the models listed below can be interconnected to build a better understanding of Teambuilding and Leadership in an organization with Bruce Tuckman’s Team Development Model forming the base for these correlations. The models that will be discussed in this paper as follows:

  1. Tuckman’s Team Development Model
    2. 3Cs of Teamwork
    3. 3 Communication Barriers

Teambuilding and Leadership are almost becoming a common language across organization around the world, and especially in Singapore, where human resource has found its way in becoming the largest natural resource. Organizations have begun to understand the growing need of teambuilding. It is evident a better team is able to create better outcomes through teamwork. The concerning factor will be that many organization view teambuilding as an ability for the teams to come together to do different things rather than work. On a larger perspective this can be acceptable, but analyzing deeper, teambuilding tends to have more detailing and strategic planning in order to make sure a particular group of people be able to
come together to perform extraordinary cause.

By combining some of the familiar/ common models of teambuilding, organizations will be able to better understand the intricate/ complex details that will need to be highlighted for a better and smooth transition from one phase to another.

Bruce Tuckman’s Team Development Model

This model describes the phases which teams tend to go through from their inception to the successful completion of the project, and highlights the areas which may cause the team and the project to fail.

There are four stages that a team will go through in their path together. These stages are Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Tuckman also have mentioned that teams will go through each stage one at a time and will not have a chance to jump stages.

High dependence on an individual leader for guidance and direction. Little agreement on team aims other than received from leader. Individual roles and responsibilities are unclear. Leader must be prepared to answer lots of questions about the team’s purpose, objectives and external relationships. Processes are often ignored. Members test tolerance of system and leader

Decisions don’t come easily within group. Team members vie for position as they attempt to establish themselves in relation to other team members and the leader, who might receive challenges from team members. Clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist. Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles. The team needs to be focused on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationships and emotional issues. Compromises may be required to enable progress.

Agreement and consensus largely forms among the team, who respond well to facilitation by a leader. Roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted. Big decisions are made by group agreement. Smaller decisions may be delegated to individuals or small teams within group. Commitment and unity is strong. The team may engage in fun and social activities. The team discusses and develops its processes and working style. There is general respect for the leader and some of leadership is more shared by the team.

The team is more strategically aware; the team knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing. The team has a shared vision and is able to stand on its own feet with no interference or participation from the leader. There is a focus on over-achieving goals, and the team makes most of the decisions against criteria agreed with the leader. The team has a high degree of autonomy. Disagreements occur but now they are resolved within the team positively, and necessary changes to processes and structure are made by the team. The team is able to work towards achieving the goal, and also to attend to relationship, style and process issues along the way. Team members look after each other. The team requires delegated tasks and
projects from the leader. The team does not need to be instructed or assisted. Team members might ask for assistance from the leader with personal and interpersonal development

Relationship between Tuckman’s Team Development Model and 3Cs

The framework 3Cs basically talks about the three important words that a team will have to have in order to work together effectively and efficiently. The three Cs are Communication; Cooperation and Collaboration respectively.

The figure above illustrates how the 3Cs can be combines together with the TUCKMAN’s TEAMBUILDING Model. More people tend to identify and know TUCKMAN’s TEAMBUILDING model that teams will have to move from Forming to Storming, from storming to norming and from norming to performing. They also know that there is no short cut to Performing, and that every team will have to go through these stages. The question that many cannot answer, though, is how can you move from one stage to another?

3Cs tend to answer this question easily, as illustrated by the figure above. Communication will lead a team from Forming to Storming, as disagreement can only be shown through communication, regardless of verbal or non-verbal.

A team will only be able to move from a difficult Storming stage when they start to cooperate with each other. Cooperation as stated in Oxford Dictionary, it is the action or process of working together to the same end. So, cooperation enables a team to put aside their differences and to work together to achieve the common goal.

Lastly, teams can only move on to Performing stage from Norming Stage, when they are able to coordinate flawlessly by understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They tend to focus on the strengths and help each other out with the weaknesses. This collaboration can also be called Synchronization, where team members become “in sync” with each other, they tend to understand each other in a different level.

Relationship between Tuckman’s Team Development Model, 3Cs and 3Barriers.

The 3 communication barriers are the culprit that stops a team or individual from advancing to the next level in their relationship. The three barriers are Physical Barrier, Mental Barrier and Emotional Barrier. These barriers are the reason why Teams cannot move from Forming to Storming stage. Also, without knowing these barriers, teams tend to have a pseudo effect that they have passed the Storming stage and are already into the Norming stage.

Physical Communication Barrier refers to the proximity of a person’s touch to another. This touch can be expressed in a form of a handshake, where meeting a new person and shaking their hands will give a different feeling compared to meeting the same new person and just saying “Hello”. These physical barriers stop us from having any form of contact with a person or team. Some colleagues have broken this physical barrier, they would not mind when a colleague were to come up to them to give them a massage or even comically pull them or hold them. Physical barriers in a FOCUS Adventure programmes can be broken with activities such as, SPA, International Handshake, Alphalink and Turning Point.

Mental Communication Barrier refers to the way two new people come together to solve a problem or a task by thinking together. Many people, when meeting new individuals will try not to show their ability to think as they may feel inferior to the other person. This barrier stops a team from thinking together and moving forward. Teams will need to first break the physical barrier in order to get to break the mental barrier. Mental barriers in FOCUS Adventure programmes can be broken with activities like Loose Change, Key Punch and Tower of Hanoi.

Emotional communication barrier, the final barrier a team will have to break in their Forming stage to move on to the Storming stage. This barrier basically shows a person’s true self during adverse situation. Most of the time, when new people meet, they tend to boast their good aspects/talents in themselves, to make themselves interesting to the other person. During that phase, people tend to be nice, understanding and forgiving. As they break the physical and mental barrier, they will arrive at the emotional barrier. This barrier breaks when a person gets angry with another in a team, cries to a person from the team, shows his/her true excitement, in another words, showing the team their variety of emotions with the
different levels in each.

Once this barrier breaks, teams will automatically move into the Storming stage, as you can only show differences when you reveal your true colours, and make known your emotions to the public/ common man.


As a conclusion, the figure above illustrates

  1. what are the different stages a team goes through during their lifetime together, working
    2. How can a team move from one stage to another?
    3. Lastly, how can a team move out from the most difficult stage, forming?

This figure is done with an assumption that every member in the team is willing to work together and have understood that it takes a team to make something impossible to incredible.

With this comparison, Facilitators and Participants can have a better idea and bigger picture on TUCKMAN’S TEAMBUILDING model and how this can be incorporated into their working environment.




For most of us, we have been taught to work hard in all our endeavors since young. In sports, in school and sometimes, during play, we are always reminded to work hard and put in all our effort. When things do not work out, we are told that what matters most is not the result, but the hard work we put in. There are many reasons for encouraging this notion. For one, it tells us that achievement does not come easy. Next, it teaches us the importance of working hard, and also, instilling the ‘never give up’ spirit in us. In short, working hard is good and we should work hard in everything we do. Right? Not quite.

As we grow older and become more in tune with reality, things starts to differ and our world-view change. In the real world, working hard can be viewed from an alternate angle. In certain fraction of reality, what matters is result, hard work or not, fortunately or unfortunately, does not. Truth is, as long as the results are on the table, no one really cares how much effort is put in.

On the same note, effort serves as a form of indicator to evaluate one’s talent, ability and competency. Achieving result with no or minimal effort could means one ‘have’. Having to labor through the process could mean one ‘do not have’. Of course, time and effort alone is not the clearest indicator because sometimes, we do like to labor our way through certain deeds. Two questions should be answered to further evaluate one’s ‘have’ and ‘do not have’: 1) Am I enjoying the process? 2) Are there results?

Enjoyment is immeasurable but result is. How much joy one is getting from the process can only be felt by the perpetrator. On the other hand, result, quality and all, is evident to everyone, and the best form of measuring result is against the benchmark. So, if one is enjoying the process, yet has no result to show for, should one continue the endeavor?

Ideally, results should be achieve with no or minimal effort. In turn, this unused effort can then be invested in achieving other and more results. When one is putting in too much effort and not yielding the desired outcome, perhaps it is time to examine the task at hand and ask the question, ‘should I do something else?’

Everyone is good at something. Sometimes we know what we are good at (conscious competence), sometimes we do not know (unconscious incompetence), and sometimes,
we are just in denial (conscious incompetence).

Here’s a snapshot of the Conscious Competency Model, which outlines the 4 different levels one goes through when learning a new skills:

This model is self explanatory. Being conscious of one’s incompetence is the starting point of evaluating one’s position. Now that I know where I stand, how hard must I work to reach the next level? Is the hard word worthwhile or, would I ever reach the next level? Different people are cut out to do different things. When working in teams, this level can be used identify the right people to perform certain roles and tasks.

A little more on this model…

The 4th level is where one is so well-oiled at performing certain task that it requires minimal or no effort at all, almost second nature. Thus, his high level of performance has no significant impact on his self-worth.

Like many models, this has its fair share of supporters and critics. Many have argued that there should be a 5th level and one of the more convincing claims is that level 5 is ‘Complacency’ – a combination of routine and confident (over). Complacency will lead to us making mistake that we are not aware of, in order words, ‘Don’t know that we don’t know’. To avoid this, one should always stay abreast of new developments and competency standards.

Going back to the title…

The purpose of this article is to offer a non-traditional way of looking at one of life’s widely accepted norms. It is not to discourage anyone from their current effort but to encourage a
sense of reality checking – a square cube fits better in a square hole.

Next time, when someone comes up to you and say he is working hard, try this respond, ‘why don’t find something you don’t have to work hard for!’

Additional Readings:







                                                                                                                      The GRIP model:
                                                                                  An application of the DISC personality profiling system
                                                                                                                        By Andy Pan

More often than not, the GRIP model has been used as part of a debrief session after the conduct of activities such as Blindfold Squares and Key Punch. Incidentally, this same model, which proposes four elements every successful team should possess or work on, can be used as an apt illustration of the DISC personality profiling system. How? First of all let us review the characteristics of the four personality styles.

1) D (Direct and Decisive)

. Practical
. Visionary
. Courageous
. Goal – oriented
. Challenges status quo

2) I (Influencing)

. Charismatic
. Warm
. Friendly
. Good Sense of Humor
. Compassionate
. People – oriented

3) S (Steady and Stable)

. Efficient
. Dependable
. Relaxed
. Patient
. Seeks stability

4) C (Compliant)

Schedule – oriented
. Detailed
. Of high standards
. Conscientious
. Analytical
. Careful 

And now, a brief description of the GRIP model.

G oal

1) What the team wants to achieve
2) The big picture
3) Long or short term goals
4) Minor or major goals
5) Realistic but yet challenging

6) Quantifiable

R oles
1) Determination of individual responsibilities in the team
2) Efficient allocation of resources so as to avoid duplication

I nterpersonal relations / I nteraction
1) Positive and professional relationships among team members
2) Establishment of trust and inter–dependence

P rocess
1) Step-by-step procedures en-route to meeting the goal(s)
2) Development of key indicators that can measure if the set goal(s) can still be met
3) The detailed plan

I guess, by now, some of us would have had an “eureka” moment.

I did.

So how can the GRIP model represent and illustrate the four DISC personality styles?


Naturally, a high D person would be most comfortable with goal-setting since Ds are, generally, goal and task-oriented. They are visionaries who have the ability to determine the team’s goals with ease. Thus, you would trust Ds to decide and inspire a shared vision with the team.

What about a high I person? You’ve guessed it! Interpersonal relations! Being a warm, friendly and people-oriented person, an I would, most likely, trigger any relationship-building activity. The last thing an I would want in a team is a lack of interaction among members.

A high S individual pursues security and stability. Thus, with a determination of roles and responsibilities, a S would feel more secure when he knows that he is playing an important role in the team. Responsibilities form an integral part of a S’s work life. In fact, you can trust a S in the team to perform efficiently and responsibly in any role assigned.

Last but not least, a high C individual would be concerned with the details of the plan – the processes and procedures that need to be put in place in order to achieve the team’s goal(s). Cs complement Ds as they work out the finer points to support the overall goal. In fact, being conscientious and schedule-oriented, Cs would excel in creating and following processes as they leave no stone unturned.

Hence, it goes to reinforce the fact that all the personality styles are unique and complementary. It is no coincidence that the GRIP framework is needed to ensure team success and at the same time, able to allow a natural fit for each of the personality styles in each of its element. No style is stronger or weaker than another, because each personality leverages on the strength and complements the weakness of another. An ideal team would be one with a good mix of all the DISC personality styles, working on all the GRIP elements in sync with each of their styles. Like they say….no individual is perfect but as a team we can be perfect.




It was another cold winter. The temperature freezing, atmosphere serene and silence filled the air. A pack of foxes were gathering in their cave, lazing around, all eyes half open. Food are always scares during winter, this one is no different. The hungry foxes haven’t eaten for 3 days.

Suddenly, the silence was broken by some noises outside the cave. A fox pops his head out of the cave, and saw a hare hopping across the vast empty land. Right away, the fox went back to the cave, woke everyone up and alert the chief fox. The chief fox immediately summons the fastest fox in the herd, Flash. Flash, or Flashy, as he is more commonly known by, is the prime hunter of the herd. He is at the peak of his prowess and is the go-to-fox when the prey is a step to fast for others.

“Flashy! We are hungry, bring the hare back.” said the chief. “Right away!” Flashy responded with a thump to his chest. Flashy burst from the cave, and dash towards the hare. Sighting
Flashy, the hare started galloping. Flashy up his pace and gave chase.

10 minutes later, Flashy returns. Empty handed, no hare in sight. “The hare was too fast.” Flashy mumbles as he walk pass his disappointed herd- mates.

How did the fastest fox lose to a hare?

In an organization, we are all part of a team, which ever way we look at it. Some networks are more apparent, while others are less obvious. Whatever it is, we all depend on others to move forward. Working together is not a choice; the structural nature of most, if not all, organization integrates individuals into a joined system. It brings people together regardless of their background and differences. Harvest constructively, these diversities offer numerous opportunities to tap on. But at the sametime, diversity is the reason why conflict occurs. Disagreement takes place because we are different. The only condition that would provide for a conflict-free relationship is when all members in the team are exactly the same is every possible way; with machines and robots, probably, in us human, no chance. Resolving difference is easier when a group of people is deciding on which restaurant to patron. In a commercial entity, where more is at stake, the pressure to deliver is constant and this piles further stress on disagreements. When ill managed, diversity turns destructive.

‘When two people come together, there’s bound to be conflict’. Team conflict is an everyday occurrence that comes in all form and happens at every level. Team dynamics and conflicts is a subject that has been studied by many and numerous related theories have since been put forth. We can summarize team conflict at 3 different levels – conflict with the goal, conflict in tactics or interpersonal conflict.

  1. Conflicts with the goal – disagreement with the team target (what).
    2. Conflict in tactics – disagreement in team processes and methods (how).
    3. Interpersonal conflict – differences in innate traits, values and personal preferences (who).

The most common source of conflict is at the interpersonal level. The regular need to interact with others means more rooms are created for this level of conflict to breed. Couple this with the fact that our values, tendencies and characteristics differs in varying degree from everyone else. Tactical conflicts are not rare either. This level of conflict has its roots in the previously described level (interpersonal) and the past experiences of individual members. Personal preferences lead to favored way of working, which in turn, lead to favored methods use. Past experiences greatly influences choice of process and methods because these methods have been proven to work, or not work. Thus, it is not uncommon to find experience teammate appearing inflexible. When combined, these two factors result in a ‘preferred method to use… all, if not most of the time’. This preferred method is both comfortable to the individual and is back by track records. How well these track records are proven is a matter of perception. If an individual thinks his method works, he will remain steadfast on his belief. When different members bring their preferred methods to the table, even with the best of intention, it can be very difficult to seek compromise and the result, conflict.

Common goal has often been cited to facilitate differences in tactics and personal preferences. The goal offers differing members a bigger picture to constructively use their differences at the other two levels. If the goal is not a quantifiable target, room should be put aside for perspective differences. As individual, it is inevitable that our perception of the goal could, and would, probably be different from each other. This is understandable and acceptable as long as the principle of the goal remains intact. What about conflict at this level? Because of the immense influence goal has on how the team works, if it is incompatible, the best way forward is to either change our individual goal, or find a team that shares the same goal.

A common goal is powerful, it binds differences. ‘What are we doing?’ is an important and essential question the team need to ask when it first come together and from time to time to
ensure alignment. Goal is influential, but there is a force that is much stronger and more significant than goal– Purpose. Purpose is the ‘Why?’ It answers the question – ‘Why are we doing what we are doing?’, ‘Why am I here?’.

Purpose is of a higher order than goal. Goals are what we want to do; purpose is the force lurking under what we do. It guides and governs our behavior and actions, and motivates our attitude. Our purpose is like the compass we use to navigate and make decisions. Like a compass, purpose provides the direction, but not the journey; it tells us where to go, and not
how to go. It doesn’t tell us what is at the end of the journey too.

Purpose is deeply ingrain in our belief system; it binds and reconciles difference more strongly than goal. Unlike goal, purpose is a never ending pursuit; it is not even long-term because purpose is not measured by time. For some of us, our life centers on our purpose. When we find others who share the same purpose or would help us move towards the right direction, it is easier to look past any differences and consider them insignificant in the greater scheme of things.

What about the flipside, when the purposes are different? Like most things, when the going is good, all are well; when it is not, we will start questioning our team mate’s attitude and motivation. Differences at all 3 levels will become more apparent and they will be attributed as the cause for the poor performance. Differences become destructive, conflict occurs. To manage conflict, we need to first identify where it took place and introduce change. More often than not, we are able to identify conflict at any of the 3 levels because they are apparent and out in the open. But, tackling differences at these levels is merely solving the surface issues, which over time, will grow again.

To seek long term solutions, we need to drive down to the roots and find leverage. Real leverage is found when we address the reasons why this differences occurs in this first place, real leverage will happen after we deal with ‘why we are doing what we doing’, real leverage can be forged once we reveal where our compass is pointing, and show everyone our true intention, our purpose.

So, how did the fox lose?

There are many reasons why a hare will outrun a very fast fox, one of it, purpose. What was the purpose for each running? For the fox, his purpose was lunch. One hare missed, another one will come. Hunger is bearable and can be satisfied another time.

As for the hare? If he is outrun, he loses his life.

Both animals were running, but both run for a different purpose. Our purpose drives our behavior and motivates our attitude – what we do, how much we do. Running for his life, the hare has only one choice: run. And run. On the other hand, running for lunch is another matter. There is always another hare or another lunch out there to be caught. Who wants it more? Who has a greater purpose?






                                                                                                                 The Business of Belaying
                                                                 A High Ropes Course Analogy of an Effective Corporate Organization
                                                                                                                                By Andy Pan

be.lay –verb (used with object)

Mountain Climbing.


to secure (a person) by attaching to one end of a rope.


to secure (a rope) by attaching to a person or to an object offering stable support

( 2007)

The high elements in adventure training have been used very successfully in teambuilding programs worldwide. From the balancing beam to the Postman’s Walk, these obstacles, suspended 10 metres off the ground, has served as powerful reminders that fear can be overcome with the support and encouragement of every team member. However, if we could just take a closer look at the entire process of belaying in the conduct of a high ropes course, its application in a corporate environment could not be more obvious.

Before a climber can start his ascent towards the obstacle, a belay team would have to be set in place. In a typical belay system, the climber would be attached to one end of a safety rope and at the other end, a belay team, would be responsible for the climber’s safety. In order for this belay system to be successful, every member of the team must perform his role with vigilance and care.

With the team ready, the climber starts his way up. Fearful and uncertain, he pulls himself up slowly towards the obstacle. He does not know how he is going to overcome this 10-metre challenge; neither does he know what added challenges might lay ahead. Although the climber does not know how he is going to conquer this fear, he knows he will. Finally, after several hesitant steps, he makes it to the top. However, what lies ahead of him now is a 15-metre long wooden beam, perched along the tree lines. He knows he has to walk across this 1-foot wide beam in order to get to the other side and there is no turning back. Looking down below to his team on the ground, he realizes that if he were to fall, at least his team is there to guarantee his safety. The team cheers as words of encouragement and support echo from the ground. Focusing only on his objective, a moment of silence engulfs the climber. After taking a deep breath, he takes his first step. Soon, after taking each step with certainty and belief, the climber makes it to the other side successfully, amidst triumphant roars.

This may just be a characteristic high ropes scenario but how does a seemingly simple act of belaying relate to that of an effective corporate organization? The answer: the relationship between a leader (climber) and his team. As theorized by Kouzes and Posner, an exemplary leader must display 5 distinct leadership practices.


Model the way


Inspire a shared vision


Challenge the process


Enable others to act


Encourage the heart

As with all leaders, they are but extraordinary people. A leader is merely an ordinary man/woman doing the same things but with extra-ordinary methods. A leader, like the climber, would always be at the lead, the first to attempt to conquer new grounds. However, it is only human to be fearful of the unknown. Fear may just have paralyzed the climber, who was depicted earlier, and allow trepidation to overwhelm him. But if he does not make that first step, if he does not “model the way”, if the leader does not exhibit that extraordinary courage, no one else would. Likewise, if an organization’s leader does not brave the front and break new grounds, the organization would be stagnant and may suffer from a cascading disease, which I term as “corporate paralysis”.

Corporate paralysis starts from the leader and once he gets infected, his followers would have no escape from it. If fear engulfs the leader, so will fear engulf the team. It is a disease so severe that eventually, in the long run, the organization may crumble and collapse. No doubt it is not easy being a leader. The first 4 leadership practices are indeed hard to adhere to and practiced. However, the last element of Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Practices – encourage the heart, would essentially be a 2-way process, played in part by both the team and the leader. How?

Let us first scrutinize the part of the leader (climber) as he or she saunters across the balancing beam. The very act of crossing the beam would have, in effect, “encourage the hearts” of the team, sub-consciously convincing them that the seemingly impossible can be made possible.  However, the act of belaying, which is technically defined as a safety process that ensures stable support, can also be figuratively defined as a process that encourages emotional support. In my opinion, the leader must know that he is not alone. In the face of uncertainty, he has the support and encouragement of his team that would help him conquer the challenge. Even if he were to fall, he would still have the team behind him, holding tightly to an emotional safety rope, which ensures that trust and support would still be present even in the event of failure.

The President has his Cabinet, the skipper has his crew, and the manager has his employees. Every leader has a team but a leader must realize that he or she is “a part” of the team and not “apart” from it. We cheer when our leader succeeds, as though the task was successfully completed by us. However, when the leader falls short of the target, we must still recognize that, in reality, we have fallen short as a team. “No man is an island”. I’m sure everyone has heard of this. Likewise, no leader is alone.