Team Armor (or Armour, if that's your thing)

POC's VPD 2.0 Jacket: bike-specific armor that
 exceeds EU motorcycle standards
I'm a fan of protection; I've always worn a helmet when riding bikes or snowboards. On the latter I also wear back armor and wrist guards. I recently acquired a full-face biking helmet, always wear full-finger gloves, and will be purchasing pieces of bike-specific body armor for the coming season. All have saved me substantial injury on many occasions. And even with all of this I've still managed to get pretty banged up from time to time.

I used to think of body armor as a defensive thing; a manifestation of fear. Something to be donned against being afraid of getting hurt. However my approach to protection has shifted in the last couple years as my riding has progressed. I now find myself drawn to new realms of riding; progression always brings higher levels of risk.

What I've found though, is that the risk can be at least partially addressed with the right equipment; it is not that I fear injury as much as I desire to stay unhurt. And this is a subtle, though important distinction.

If I ride and operate out of fear, I hold myself back. To be clear I'm not suggesting ignoring my fear  in the moment, though I'm talking more generally as an approach to my riding as a whole.
Troy Lee's Carbon D3: a favorite lid among
the world's biggest hitting, fastest riding pros

Proactively seeking to protect my body on the other hand, is an opening, a way to evaluate risk and decide from a place of possibility rather than the limitations of fear.

How does this all apply to teams? To truly progress, teams need an analogue to body armor. They need structure to protect them when they go sideways and crash. Structures such as: working agreements, conflict protocols, and explicit shared vision and values.

And these structures are not static; crafting them and then never coming back to them is akin to buying armor and then never putting it on to ride. Kept alive these structures will serve the team as they strive to deliver the highest value to their organization, particularly when they are in conflict.

When a team armored by structures that they've created and committed to crashes, in effect that team is much more likely to be able to get up and ride away rather than be broken.

What kind of armor do the teams you work with   or on create? How has it affected their growth and process?



In Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart Mary Beth O'Neill writes about the need for an effective coach to maintain a grounded presence. Of course, this isn't a static state; we are all constantly interacting with the surrounding environment:

"The goal is to decrease the amount of time we are reactive and to recover equilibrium more quickly."

If there is a single prerequisite for gravity sports, it is a sense of balance. One needs to stay upright in what is essentially a controlled fall down a slope. To do so, the muscular and neural loops that detect and correct imbalance must be tuned and honed, and we also must be willing to commit.

And the reality is, even the best athletes lose their balance. Constantly. It just looks a bit different than we might expect, because they also know how to correct in a fraction of a second.

Speaking for myself, there is magic to be found in defying gravity in this way. As I am in a state of being pulled down the slope, yet staying upright, living in that paradox there is something that happens. And it feels amazing.

As practitioners, the truth for us is that it's less about not losing our balance. It's about understanding that we and those we work with will be constantly pushed and pulled by a chaotic stream of inputs; we are already in falling across the slope of business realities. Our job is to do all we can to move with those forces and stay upright, and seek that paradox, for there is magic there. And as we practice that, the loops that detect imbalance tighten and improve; it requires less effort over time.

It's also a good idea to carry a first aid kit and know how to use it...part of learning to balance is, at times, failing. Wearing a helmet's a good idea, too (see my Team Armor post) :)

As a practitioner, how do you balance? How do you know when you're slipping, and what helps you re-center?