The Essential Team-Building Practice

Part II

A Blog Series with Karine & Jeff

Karine Veldhoen of Learn Forward
Jeff Thomlinson of Take a Breath for Schools

The essential ritual for creating ‘belonging’ in a team is the experience of a check-in.  

The essential alchemy for your team check-in is creating an empowering experience.  

The Alchemy of a Check-In

My colleague, Jeff Harshad Thomlinson, of Take a Breath for Schools has a rich perspective as a Master Yogi on this alchemy…

I appreciate the opportunity to speak about sharing and authentic communication.  It has been foundational to my personal development and professional training for many years, including attending the Landmark Forum Training.  

In all of this personal and professional development one foundational component must be included for individuals to participate.  

That component is safety- which is a felt experience.  

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Creating Safety

Safety can and should be communicated and contexted in the arrival to a group who are expected to share.  It gives each participant a relatively safe starting point to interact with others.  

I mention it is a ‘felt’ experience to emphasize how personal a feeling of safety is for an individual.  That safety allows them to ‘open up,’ to trust.  Authenticity creates a resonance calling other participants forward to share. 

An example of this safety and authenticity is always apparent when I visit my extended family.  Actually, going on a recent trip to Washington State, I was able to visit some family I had not seen for a few (Covid!) years.  Invariably, in each group of my family that I visited, the safety leading to authenticity was there.  

Jeff on Vacation

First, there is a feeling-out period, of stories and catch-up for lost time.  A figurative, ‘check-in.’ Often in those conversations, there can be banter, humor, and maybe drama, all leading to settling into each other’s company (this is all part of the stress response easing).  There is a safety created which is precious.  

Then, the safety seems to build over time. By the 3rd day or so of being together, I feel my heart swell into the sacred community of family and authentic relationships.  I often feel renewed and refreshed, both of which are valuable to my overall health and well-being.”   

The Reminder

Jeff reminds us of how safety, trust, and belonging blossom into authenticity.  

It is an experience.  

It is a cornerstone of wellness.

Creating safety isn’t a strategy, an agenda item, or a task.  It can’t be trained or scheduled.  

However, we can create the conditions for this experience to emerge.  

The alchemy of ‘being’ together in a ‘check-in’ each time we meet together is an essential starting point of creating a team no one wants to leave. It is about showing up, in all your humanity, ready with your whole self, to be present.

We can create communities of belonging with powerful team check-ins.  

Need resources for your school?  We invite all school leaders to use our ready-to-use Passageways – Powerful Team-Building Experiences.  Check out these expertly designed team-building experiences.

Yours in service,

Karine and Jeff