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The Firefly Group helps people connect their every-day tasks with a bigger, wider sense of purpose and meaning. After working with Firefly, people are energized to attain the mission of their organization and they have a specific action plan to help them achieve their goals.
We do this through leadership development, performance improvement training, strategic planning, and clarification of organizational mission and vision. Our methods are engaging, thought-filled, and results-oriented.
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|In Sight||Hand Signals||Don't Take It for Granted|
A minor injury and a National Geographic article are the inspiration for this month's discovery: the hand. Find out how it relates to better teams beginning with this story in exactly 99 words. 99 Words
"Without my glasses I didn't recognize you until I heard the rhythm of your swimming," Sissy admitted at the pool.
If I lost my glasses, I'd have to make big changes. I'd have to listen more, rely upon other senses, slow down. I'd need to develop alternative resources, invent coping strategies. Perhaps I'd become more thoughtful, more reflective. Mostly, I hope I would concentrate on building and reinforcing relationships with the people I truly care about.
Guess it takes losing your glasses (even if only in your mind's eye) to help you focus on what's really important.
A very minor injury to my thumb left me favoring my right hand. I had to be more careful reaching, grasping, holding, and manipulating the objects around me. I had to give careful thought and planning for very simple tasks. Holding a cup or picking up a pencil took concentration and care. Keeping my hand dry in the shower was a challenge.
The human hand is such a wonderful invention that it's surprising to have taken me so many years to discover my own. At the same time, hands have been at the end of our arms for so many eons, you probably wonder why I would talk about them at all.
Looking back on the path of our history, archeologists can credit the evolution of our hands with a jump in brain size and capacity. As we learned to use that appendage and its delicately manipulative digits, our brain grew to provide the necessary central control. Hands enabled us to change our environment and those new conditions brought about even more brain growth in an upward spiral. There is even some evidence that the evolution of our hands brought about our ability to stand erect and walk on two legs.
An article in the May 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine, The Common Hand, makes the point that a variety of vertebrates have a similar bone structure from shoulder to fingertip including some version of a hand. X-ray photos in the article comparing the bone structure in animals from frogs to elephants reveals the similarity: a large bone for the upper arm, two bones for the middle arm, a wrist with many bones, and ending with five digits. In all these creatures, "hands" have developed specialized functions from swimming, to standing, to flying, to climbing trees.
Our hands, with their opposable thumbs, have given us an increased facility for using tools. Most primates have an opposable thumb to some degree but the human thumb has the greatest range of flexibility. Interestingly, we are not the only species with truly opposable thumbs. Koalas have two opposable digits! They use them to securely grip the tree branches where they feed and spend most of their time.
We have come to associate the opposable thumb with advanced intelligence to such a degree that The Onion, a satirical magazine, has published an article speculating about what would happen if the highly intelligent dolphin species had evolved an opposable thumb. Would it suddenly make them even smarter? The concept is carried to a frightening extreme.
By now, my hand is fully mended and, like my friend in the 99-Word Story who lost her glasses, I've gained a new perspective in the process. Sometimes objects that are the most familiar can bring new insights into reach when seen through the lens of curiosity.
On the Other
Your wonderfully oppositional thumb.
How fortunate we are to have a strong thumb opposite our remaining four fingers. With it we enjoy two types of grip: power and precision. A power grip is when your fingers grab an object and your thumb applies pressure in the opposite direction. You use a power grip to hold a hammer, or grab a bicycle handlebar. With a power grip you use the strength of your whole hand and it's possible only with the oppositional ability of your thumb. A precision grip is when the tips of your fingers and thumb come together to hold an object. It's useful for writing with a pencil, picking up coins from a flat surface, and doing similar fine motor work.
We don't think much about how our opposable thumb makes hands so much more useful. Similarly, we don't appreciate the value of opposition in other aspects of our lives. The oppositional people on our teams only seem to cause problems. Our competitors, whether in the market place or the corporate space are obstacles to be defeated. And our political opponent is certain to be wrong about everything.
Yet opposition has its useful side. My daughter, from her high school statistics class, informs me that it is the outliers in a data set that foster the most interesting questions and engender the most curiosity for further study. Provocative team members in opposition bring new ideas to the creative table and counterbalance groupthink. Competitors provide motivation as well as inspiration to strive toward our best. And in politics, oppositional ideas help us clarify our own values, beliefs, and goals.
Of course, we are most familiar with having too much opposition. Like having two thumbs (unless you are a koala!), with too many people in opposition we become "all thumbs," klutzy, inefficient, inept. Striking a balance becomes the critical task because sometimes we, ourselves, are the opposable member fighting for our favorite position or cause. In these cases, it might be helpful to consider: Is my opposition enabling the group to enhance its grip on the situation by providing either more power or better precision? If not, perhaps it's time to back away from a heavy-handed approach!
It for Granted
How valuable is an opposable thumb? Here's an activity that will help you appreciate having five fingers that blend teamwork and an oppositional perspective for seamless collaboration. Use it to gain new insights about the coordination of opposing views in your work, home, or community life. Then, please with other readers.
Modified from National Science Teachers Association web site.
Have a helper lightly tape your thumbs to the sides of your hands. Do not tape them tightly because it could interfere with your circulation. You should still be able to move your four fingers.
Try each of the activities below. Make sure not to use your thumbs at all as you do them.
Which activities took longer or were more difficult to do without your thumbs? Which type of grip, power or precision, would have been most helpful to use for each activity?
Think of a difficult situation at work or at home. Which of the activities might act as a metaphor for that situation? How does not being able to use your thumb in that activity relate to the difficult situation? What new insights does the activity offer for your situation?
Activities to Try Without Your Thumb
1. Write your name with a pencil
2. Put on a sock and shoe
3. Open a door using a knob
4. Brush or comb your hair
5. Fasten a button
6. Tie a shoelace
7. Blow up a balloon and tie it
8. Seal a plastic bag
9. Pull up a zipper
10. Pick a coin up off a flat surface
11. Brush your teeth
12. Open a jar
If you like what you have read in this issue, I would like to bring the same innovation, creativity, and playfulness to your next meeting or learning event.
Whether you need a keynote speaker, or help with strategic planning, performance improvement, or training facilitators and trainers in your organization, I look forward to your call (802.257.7247) or .
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