August 24, 2020
WHY FREE THE GENIE WORKS: Thinking Beyond the Pandemic

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1. TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE: No matter how creative you are, having the right person to brainstorm with -- at the right time and in the right way -- can often be the difference between success and failure. Human beings are social animals. We need to express ourselves. We need to be heard. We need connection, feedback, encouragement, fresh perspectives, and new ideas. This is not the time to be a lone wolf. You may be quarantined right now, but you are not in this alone!

2. YOU HAVE SOMETHING WONDERFUL TO CREATE:
Yes, it's true! You are onto something. You are being called! You feel it in your bones and have known it for a while. Simply put, you have a gift to share with the world or at least your family and friends -- a service to provide. Now is the time to get it out of you head and into the marketplace! Free the Genie can help facilitate that process. "If not YOU, who? If not NOW, when?"

3. ALL OF US GET STUCK FROM TIME TO TIME: This just in! All people with great ideas eventually run into walls. It comes with the territory of creating something new. But here's the thing: those walls are often no more solid than a thought, assumption or belief. Free the Genie is designed to help you go over, under, around, or through those walls -- and, on a good day, prevent you from building those walls in the first place.

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4. EVERY ACTION HAS AN EQUAL AN OPPOSITE REACTION: Welcome to Newton's Third Law of Motion. In layman's terms, "one door closes, another opens." And so it is with the Pandemic. Maybe you are quarantined, locked down, and socially distanced. OK. So be it. But that is just your body. Your mind, imagination, and ability to create are boundless. Free the Genie can help you enter into that state of boundlessness or, at the very least, knock on it's door.

5. IDEAS MAY BE A DIME A DOZEN, BUT A SINGLE IDEA CAN BE PRICELESS: One idea. That's it. That's all it takes. One juicy, yummy, out-of-the-box, brilliant, actionable idea. And that is, precisely, one of the outcomes of a Free the Genie session.

6. IT DOESN'T TAKE A LOT OF TIME: Most stuggling entrepreneurs, artists, writers, career changers, and people in transition, assume they need to invest a lot of time to crack the code. This is not always true. How long does it take to start a fire -- not one to burn your house down, but one to warm you on a chilly night? Sometimes, all you need is a spark. And so it is with Free the Genie. This user-friendly tool has been designed to work it's magic in very little time. Less than an hour. And sometimes,less than 10 minutes. (Time, like your brother-in-law, is relative).

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7. IT'S FUN: There's enough density, darkness, and boring Zoom meetings in the world these days. We don't need any more. That's why Free the Genie sessions have been designed to be engaging, inspiring, and fun. Ever wonder why the words AHA and HAHA are almost spelled the same?

8. IT SPARKS CONFIDENCE, INSPIRATION, and FORWARD MOVEMENT: The benefits of a Free the Genie session does not end when your Zoom session ends. It is not a bowl of split pea soup you stick your finger into only to discover 30 seconds later that nothing has changed. Free the Genie is designed to honor Newton's First Law of Motion: "An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion." Movement! We're starting a movement! And that movement is YOU. (In other words, a Free the Genie session gets you off your ifs, ands, or butts).

9. THIS IS ALL ABOUT EMPOWERMENT, NOT CO-DEPENDENCE: The engine of Free the Genie is Free the Genie -- an online, creative thinking tool. Free the Genie is available to you for free. You can subscribe now if you'd like. Or now. We don't charge for it. There is no fine print. We don't sell your email address or our soul. The only way we make money is when someone engages our services to facilitate a Free the Genie session. What we're trying to do is get Free the Genie into as many hands as possible, so people have the support they need to adapt, adjust, and create something new for themselves during these difficult times.

10. FREE THE GENIE IS AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME: Victor Hugo said it best: "Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come." We agree. Free the Genie has been brewing for the past 15 years -- never quite ready to launch. The pieces of the puzzle were not yet in place. The time was not right. But now, with millions of people out of work, out of luck, and trying to navigate the unknown road ahead, the time is definitely right.

What people are saying about Free the Genie

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THE CREATOR OF FREE THE GENIE: Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, with 33 years experience as an innovation provocateur for forward-thinking organizations. Creator of Free the Genie and Brainstorm Champions. Author of Storytelling for the Revolution. Author of Storytelling at Work. Co-Author of Conducting Genius. Creator of Wisdom Circles. Dust particle. Flake. Humorist.


NOTE: In a few months, the good people of Idea Champions will begin training people how to facilitate Free the Genie sessions -- something we will be doing on ZOOM. If you are interested, send an email to info@ideachampions.com with the words "Free the Genie Facilitator Training" in the subject line and we will get back to you with more info and next steps when the time is right.

And a big shout out to the very talented, creative, and committed Steve Wehr for the fine work he did programming and designing FreetheGenie.com

Testimonials from Idea Champions clients
50 quotes on the power of ideas

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August 22, 2020
Idea Champions Helps All Kinds of People Originate Great Ideas

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Since 1987, Idea Champions has been helping a wide variety of forward thinking organizations tap into their innate creativity and originate breakthrough ideas.

"Through your brainstorm facilitation, we gained more than 100 original ideas of high quality. The best of these will guide AT&T's development for years to come." - Robert Rubin, Product Development, AT&T

"Several of the ideas we came up with in the Idea Champions session are being developed into concrete projects that are looking like very profitable opportunities." - Rudy Villa, VP, GE/RCA Licensing

"As a result of Idea Champions'efforts we have implemented more than 250 value-added Big Idea projects." - Joe Belinsky, Professional Development Manager, Goodyear

"Extremely engaging and enlightening brainstorming sessions." - Karen Lazan, Marketing Director, Pfizer

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"Your session definitely helped us generate lots of great ideas to activate our positioning around the world." - Charlotte Oades, Director, Brand Marketing, The Coca Cola Company

"Your techniques and style left our people with a better understanding and working knowledge of the most valuable tool we all possess: the creative mind." - Tom Gowan, VP Communications, Emmis Broadcasting

"Participants continue to leave your course excited about their new implementable ideas and innovations re: new and existing products and services." - Jim Schultz, Managing Director, NYNEX

"Idea Champions' ideation webinar has been invaluable in helping diverse and remote teams around the globe focus on the essentials of great idea generation." - Jon Bidwell, Director of Innovation, Chubb Insurance

"Your High Velocity Brainstorming sessions were wonderful. We achieved all the goals we set out to accomplish and more." - Sue Mongeon, Staff Manager, AT&T

"Idea Champions tone, demeanor, and presentation style allowed us to maximize our brainstorming efforts." - Rich Battista. President, Fox National Cable Networks

"The Idea Champions process not only worked, it exceeded our every expectation" - Melinda McLaughlin, Senior Vice President, A&E Television Networks

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"I want to note how impressed we all were with Idea Champions' insight and understanding of our business, as well as the techniques you used to take us through the creative process." - Gabrielle Del Sesto, VP, MTV Networks

"Idea Champions helped us generate powerful new ideas and engage with such energy that, six months later, their impact still hasn't worn off! - Candida G. Brush, Chair: Entrepreneurship Division, Babson College

"Idea Champions brings a creative, energetic and fun approach to idea generation. The tools and techniques they brought to Atlanticare are enabling us to build a true Garden of Innovation." - Terri Schieder, VP, Clinical Development and Integration, Atlanticare

"Idea Champions has the unique quality to combine zany out-of-box thinking with a pragmatic approach that appealed to every participant. Even those who relish the status quo couldn't help but relax, laugh, and lean into their untapped creativity." - Maureen Toshner, Director, Organizational Development & Learning, Charter Manufacturing

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Idea Champions
Brainstorm Champions

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August 20, 2020
100 Reasons Why You Don't Get Your Best Ideas At Work

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Since 1987, I've asked 2,500 people where and when they get their best ideas. Less than 2% have said "the workplace."

Based on my 33 years of working with a ton of innovation-seeking organizations, here's my take on WHY you don't get your best ideas at work:

1. Too much to do, not enough time.

2. Too many distractions and interruptions.

3. You work in a risk averse organization.

4. Sleep deprivation.

5. Mental clutter.

6. Fear that someone will steal your idea.

7. You don't think of yourself as creative.

8. Boring meetings that put you in a bad mood.

9. You're not measured for the quantity or quality of ideas you generate.

10. Stultifying routine.

11. You are worried about layoffs and don't want to draw undue attention to yourself.

12. Poor ventilation -- not enough oxygen.

13. The last time you came up with a great idea, you were either ignored or ridiculed.

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14. It's not in your job description.

15. It's not in the strategic plan.

16. It's not in the cards.

17. It's not in your favorite holy book

18. Your manager has made it clear that he/she does not have the time to consider your ideas.

19. Lack of immersion. Lack of incubation.

20. No one's ever told you that they want your ideas.

21. You are understaffed and don't have the time to try an innovative approach.

22. You are angry at the company.

23. You get no input from people outside your department.

24. Your company has just been acquired and you don't want your new overlord to succeed.

25. You know there's no one to pitch your new ideas to -- and even if there was, it's a long shot they would listen.

26. You're concerned that your great idea is so great that it will actually be accepted and then you will be expected to work on it in your spare time (which you don't have) with no extra resources made available to you.

27. All your great ideas are focused on trying to get Gina or Gary, in Marketing, to give you the time of day.

28. You're a new parent.

29. You've got other projects, outside of work, and have no energy left to think about anything else.

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30. They don't pay you enough to think creatively.

31. You're expected to leave your mind at the door when you come to work.

32. No incentives or rewards.

33. You don't have the intrinsic motivation .

34. Actually, you don't want to be working at all -- and you wouldn't be working if you didn't have to.

35. You have not identified a challenge or opportunity that inspires you enough to think up new ideas.

36. No timely feedback from others.

37. There's no one to collaborate with.

38. Constantly changing priorities.

39. "Work," for you is synonymous with things you have to do not want to do, thus creating two parallel universes that never intersect.

40. You haven't read my award winning book yet.

41. It's too noisy.

42. Endless hustle and bustle.

43. You can't stop thinking about Covid-19.

44. You're too busy tweeting.

45. You have the attention span of a tse-tse fly.

46. Just when a good idea pops into your head, you dismiss it as "not good enough".

47. Your left brain has become a kind of Attila the Hun in relation to your Pee Wee Herman-like right brain.

48. You didn't get the memo.

49. You are too busy deleting spam.

50. The brainstorming sessions you attend are pitiful.

51. You believe that new ideas are a dime a dozen.

52. You're not paid to think. You're paid to DO.

53. Actually, you don't have a job.

54. You are hypoglycemic.

55. You're not allowed to listen to music at your desk.

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56. You have no sense of urgency.

57. Your office or cubicle feels like a jail cell.

58. You're too busy filling out forms.

59. Not enough coffee.

60. You don't like your boss.

61. Existential despair.

62. There's a call on Line 2.

63. You have no time to incubate or reflect.

64. You've got to show results fast.

65. You know your manager will, eventually, get all the credit for your great ideas.

66. You've just been assigned to another project.

67. Brain fatigue.

68. You haven't tried Free the Genie yet.

69. You don't feel valued or appreciated.

70. You deciphered a much talked about sighting of a Crop Circle in England as meaning: "Stop coming up with good ideas at work."

71. Every extra minute you have is spent on Facebook.

72. There's too much stress and pressure on the job.

73. Naysayers and idea killers surround you.

74. Inability to relax.

75. It's summertime.

76. You've got this weird rash on your leg and you think it might be Lyme's disease or leprosy.

77. What you think of as a great idea and what your manager thinks of as a great idea are two entirely different things.

78. You know you won't get the funding, so why bother?

79. You're just trying to get through the day.

80. Every time you get a great idea, it's time to go to another meeting.

81. You only get your great ideas in the shower and there are no showers at work.

82. Your head is filled with a thousand things you need to do.

83. Relentless deadlines.

84. Too much input from others.

85. You have to stay focused on the "job at hand".

86. You'll only end up making the company richer and that is not what you want to do.

87. Those bright, annoying, overhead fluorescent lights.

88. No one besides you really cares.

89. You've just been assigned a project that is totally boring.

90. There is no one to brainstorm with.

91. Your husband/wife is complaining that all you ever do is work -- or talk about work.

92. You have the wrong astrological sign.

93. Your cultural upbringing has taught you that it is not your place to conjure up new ideas.

94. Your job is too structured to think outside the box.

95. People seem to be staring at you and that makes you self-conscious.

96. You're too busy.

97. Wait! How come they're taking so much out of your paycheck?

98. You're only working there to beef up your resume for the next job.

99. A vast right wing conspiracy.

100. You end up reading long lists like this which eats into whatever time you have to come up with good ideas.

Possible antidotes

A big thank you to Jim Aubele, Fran Tyson-Marchino, Nirit Sharon, Cindy Pearce, Robert Fischaleck, Deborah Medenbach, Amy de Boinville, Glenna Dumay, Bert Dromedary, and Sally Kaiser for their contributions to this list.

A good way to get ideas at work
Idea Champions
A virtual way to get new ideas
Our no BS creative thinking training

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Why Finland Has the Best Education System in the World

The school I want to begin

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August 19, 2020
The Six Sides of the So-Called Box

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Unless you've been in a coma for the past 20 years, I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "get out of the box." It's everywhere. Whole industries have sprung up around it, including mine.

No one can deny that getting out of the box is a good thing to do. Seems like a no-brainer, eh? Kind of like helping little old ladies cross the street. Or tearing down the Berlin Wall. But before you start planning your heroic escape, answer me this: What the heck is the box, anyway? What is this so-called thing that keeps us so contained, confined, caged, trapped, claustrophobic, and otherwise unable to create?

Let's start with the basics. A box has six sides, including the top and the bottom.

If we can understand what these six sides are, we'll know what we're dealing with -- and this knowledge will improve our chances of getting out. Or, as Fritz Perls once said, "Awareness cures." Let us proceed...

1. ASSUMPTIONS: Assumptions are the guesses we make based on our subjective interpretation of reality. They are short cuts. Lines drawn in the sand. We end up taking things for granted because we are either too lazy to get down to the root of things or too entranced by our own beliefs to consider an alternative.

Ultimately, it is our assumptions that shape our world. The world is the screen and we are the projector, seeing only what we project -- which is all too often merely a function of the assumptions we've made. As one wise pundit once put it, "When a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees our pockets." Bottom line, we see what we are primed to see. Change your assumptions and you change the world -- starting with your own.

2. FEAR: If you want to raise the odds of being trapped in a box for the rest of your life, all you need to do is increase the amount of fear you feel. Fear inhibits. Fear paralyzes. Fear subverts action. Indeed, when fear rules the day, even reacting is difficult. Fear not only puts us in the box, it makes it almost impossible to get out the box.

Fear of what? Fear of judgment. Fear of failure. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being revealed to be an impostor. Fear of this. Fear of that. And fear of the other thing, too.

Do you think it's an accident that Peter Drucker devoted his entire life to driving fear out of the workplace? Or course not. Fear sucks. And precisely what it sucks is the life right out of you. There is no box without fear. Get rid of fear and you get rid of the box.

3. POWERLESSNESS: Powerlessness is the state of mind in which people think they have no choice -- that they are victims of circumstance, that the act of attempting anything new is futile.It's why Dilbert has become the patron saint of most cubicle dwellers.

Some in-the-box people have dwelled in the state of powerlessness for their entire life, going all the way back to childhood, overpowered (or disempowered) by parents, schools, and who knows what else.

If you work in an organization, you've seen this powerlessness paradigm in spades -- as the "powers-that-be" don't always take kindly to the ideas, input, and grumblings of the "rank and file." If you're feeling powerless, not only are you in the box, it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to muster the energy, intention, or urgency to get out of it.

4. ISOLATION: Boxes are usually small and confining. Rarely is there room for more than one person. Isolation is the result. There's no one to talk to, no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to collaborate with.

Curiously, solitary confinement is the biggest punishment our society doles out -- second only to the death sentence. Being cut off from the tribe has been a very effective "behavior modification" technique for centuries. When you're in the box, that's exactly what's happening.

And while your isolation may give you a momentary feeling of much-needed privacy, safety, and relief from the judgment of others, it's fool's gold. Sitting in the dark, being completely on your own, vision obscured -- all reduce your chances of getting out.

5. MENTAL CLUTTER:
If you find yourself in the box, it would be fair to say that the box contains you. But what do you contain?

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If you are like most people in today's over-caffeinated, twitterfied, information-overloaded world the answer is: too much. With the amount of information doubling every few years, most of us have way too much on our minds. Too much to do and not enough time. We have no time for musing. No time for pondering. No time for reflecting. No time for contemplating, incubating, or making new connections -- behaviors that are essential to true out-of-the-box thinking.

The result? Not a good one. We latch onto the first seemingly "right idea" that comes our way -- or else desperately try to declutter our minds with an endless series of mindless distractions that only increase the amount of clutter we need to process. Ouch.

6. TUNNEL VISION:
When you're in a box, it's hard to see. Sight lines are limited. Vision is obscured. We become shortsighted. Our vision conforms to that which confines it. We become, soon enough, narrow-minded. I'm sure you know a few people like this. Their ability to see beyond their immediate surroundings has become disabled.

When this kind of phenomenon becomes institutionalized, we end up with a bad case of "next quarter syndrome" -- especially in organizations ruled by the need to constantly please profit-seeking shareholders. Few people are thinking six months out. Few are thinking 12 months out. And almost no one is thinking five years out. Everyone is trapped by the short-term.

What we call "focus" becomes a euphemism for tunnel vision -- just another form of narrow-mindedness that makes getting out of the box about as likely as my credit card company rescinding their usurious late payment fees.

What are some ways you can reliably get out of the box on the job?

Idea Champions

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August 14, 2020
Be a Mr. Jensen

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August 13, 2020
The Power of Introverts

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August 11, 2020
Ethan Hawke on Creativity

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We Were Made for These Times!

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What follows is an extraordinary call of the heart by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Not only is it worth reading, it's worth reading aloud -- so you hear it and feel it as well as see it. Then, you get to decide who you want to share it with -- and how. This is a piece of deep, soul-inspired, primal writing that deserves to travel to every corner of the Earth.

"My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The luster and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

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I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for."

Clarissa Pinkola Estes: American poet, post-trauma specialist, Jungian psychoanalyst, and author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2020
Those Who Trust Us, Educate Us

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"Those who trust us, educate us." - George Eliot

NOTE: What follows is a guest post from Mohammed Azim, Secondary School Head of English, Teacher, and Coach at Al Siraat College, in Epping, Australia. Mohammed is one of 33 teachers and staff members participating in Idea Champions' four-month Team Leadership Training, one module of which focuses on trust.

"I like the above quotation by the English novelist, Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot!

I am also reminded of our beloved Prophet and Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him), who said: "When a man says something to someone and then turns to you, then it is a trust." Our religion demands that we all be characterized by the nature of trust.

We ought to acknowledge that the need for trust in the workplace is a fundamental building block of any organization. Simply put, when you trust people, you have confidence in them -- in their integrity and their abilities. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them -- their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record.

There are five things the George Eliot quote taught me:

1. I come to truly feel loved by those who I work with in a team. Isn't this bonding for success? I learn the greatest lesson here -- trust is reciprocal.

2. If there is no trust, there is no us! Simple education for me, first -- attempting to lead a team at Al Siraat College. Indeed, healthy relationships arise from mutual trust.

3. I constantly learn from my team about what it means to be supported, assisted, and respected. I thought I was educating them, but, behold! They were educating me!

4. The good I say to my team, the good they say to me, the good we say and do together, makes our work more enjoyable and stress-free! This is an impactful education for the leader in me!

5. Finally, my team trusts me without fear -- that is why we are the envy of others... a great education again for me and us!

Indeed, trust is the foundation for building strong teams, creating a positive work culture, and producing results. If you want to know the true meaning of trust -- how about looking at those who trust you? In fact, they will educate you on everything about trust as I have found in my 33 years of being an educator."

37 quotes on trust
BRAVING: Brene Brown on trust
Idea Champions

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Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

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