What are your three defining moments?
This was a question I asked a group to prepare individually for a recent workshop I was facilitating. This was a session with a new senior team who had come together. Some had worked together before, others were new to the team or even new to the organization.
This activity provided the opportunity to speak for 10 mins about where they were born and what they liked to do with their time. They also shared those ‘three defining moments in their life’.
Why was this important? Well, I have a strong belief (backed by lots of research) that as humans when we connect with each other’s stories we have a better time understanding why people do what they do. It allows us to rationalize. We then understand why they place more importance on some things, explain why they make decisions in a particular way, or provide context to a view they may hold.
Empathetic understanding and shared experiences are the foundations of building relationships. We certainly don’t have to be ‘best friends’ with the people we work with (although is magical when they are). But knowing their story allows us to deepen our understanding of each other and the team as a whole.
As each person spoke, I noticed the team listening intently. No one interrupted, had side conversations or became distracted. In fact, from each of these stories emerged similar shared experiences, values, and characteristics that had shaped who they were as people and business leaders today.
To protect the privacy of the group I’m not going to share their defining moments. These are their stories to tell but suffice it to say that some moved the group to tears, had us roaring with laughter, and saw us picking our jaws up from the floor.
The group finished the day by identifying their common set of values. Then, they began to define the way in which they would communicate and support one another as the team. They gained an empathetic understanding of one another that will see them weather the rollercoaster of senior leaders together.
For me, I simply felt privileged to have been trusted to work with this group and listen to the remarkable stories from which I personally gained so much.