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Fear in a Hat

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Fear in a Hat
(Intence improv but really useful)
Collect participants “fears” in a hat, tin or bag. Set an appropriate tone, e.g., settled, attentive, caring and serious.
The tone could be set by introducing the topic of fear and explaining how it is normal and natural at this stage of improv exercise that people are experiencing all sorts of anxieties, worries, and fears about what might happen. A good way of starting to deal with these fears is to have them openly acknowledged – lay them on the table, without being subject to ridicule. Having one’s fears expressed and heard almost immediately cuts them in half.

Can be done as the first activity in a program, during the initial stages or well into the program. When used early on in particular, it can help to foster group support and be helpful for alerting the group to issues they may want to respect in a Full Value Contract.

Ask everyone, including the group leaders, to complete this sentence on a piece of paper (anonymously):
“In this trip/group/program, I am [most] afraid that…” or “In this trip/group/program, the worst thing that could happen to me would be…”

Collect the pieces of paper, mix them around, then invite each person to a piece of paper and read about someone’s fear.
One by one, each group member reads out the fear of another group member and elaborates and what he/she feels that person is most afraid of in this group/situation. No one is to comment on what the person says, just listen and move on to the next person.
If the reader doesn’t elaborate much on the fear, then ask them one or two questions. Avoid implying or showing your opinion as to the fear being expressed, unless the person is disrespecting or completely misunderstanding someone’s fear. If the person doesn’t elaborate after one or two questions, leave it and move on.

When all the fears have been read out and elaborated on, then discuss what people felt and noticed.
Can lead into other activities, such as developing a Full Group Contract, personal or team goal settings, course briefings which specifically tackle some of the issues raised, or into other activities in which participants explore their feelings and fears (e.g., see the
Fear in a Hat description at www.nurturingpotential.net)
Likes and dislikes – in two separate hats
Favorite moments

Paper and pen/pencil per participant; Hat, tin or bag.

~5 minutes + 1-2 minutes per participant, e.g., 15-20 minutes for a group of 10.

Brief description:
People write personal fears anonymously on pieces of paper which are collected.  Then each person reads someone else’s fear to group and explains how the person might feel.

Links to other versions:

Mirror Image

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Mirror Image
This activity involves people in pairs, with one person mirroring the actions and movements of the other person.
Body movement exercises can be most revealing, confronting and rewarding. “Human sculpting via mirroring” brings body movement exploration into the dyad. By reflecting body movements of another, several subtle but complex processes are activated, heightening self- and other-awareness. Immediate non-verbal feedback exercises in the right time and place have the potential to be transformational. Other times this can simply be a fun loosen-upper.
Works with any size group; split into pairs/couples.
Although it is simple, the activity can be confronting and requires experienced leadership and a well chosen moment/sequence/program.
Usually, make sure the social ice is well and truly broken, and that there have been other body movement and physical warmup/stretching exercises, with some laughter and some seriousness.
Offer a demonstration. Invite a volunteer to stand facing you about half a meter apart. The instructor initiates action, with the other person following in “mirror image”.
Make your movements engaging and slow enough for the other person to mime as if they were a full-length mirror.
Also include zany stretches/contortions to get a few laughs, especially facial gymnastics. Include action sequences for tasks like brushing your teeth. The demonstration helps to loosen up conceptions and inhibitions.
In pairs, one person stretches, the other follows. Then swap after some time.
Debrief as you see fit.

Variation: Reverse-mirror image. Try following partner’s movements in reverse-mirror image (i.e., swap left <-> right)
The exercise can be done in different ways to emphasize difference aspects, e.g., for trust-building, drama warmup, ice breaker, etc.
Related Activities
Finger Dancing
Kirtans (calling – response chanting)
Walking in Sync


  • No equipment needed, just a place where people can spread out.


  • Total ~ 10-15 minutes.

Brief description

  • Involves people in pairs, with one person mirroring the actions of the other.  Stimulates self- and other-awareness.


My homework for a creative leadership class

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This painting I created as a final project for my favorite Masters Class in Creative Leadership and Problem Solving: I use symbols to describe my leadership style. I went all out abstract! This explanation comes with it.

This painting is using symbolism for theories and how I combine visionary leadership, with Flow, Divergent thinking, and Foresight.
To begin with, the Foresight Preferences to show that I am a leader that want to help my followers find out who they are and how to use their skills to the best of their ability.
Those are the four symbols with myself in the middle. Classifier, Indicator, (Leader) Developer, and the Implementer

The symbolical thought bubble which we all share is my “Vision.”
I would like to think of myself as a visionary leader with a visionary thinking style in.

The image is also showing that not only am I sharing my vision with the followers but I am fostering them to feel as if they are a part of the Vision.
If they feel they have a role in achieving the vision, this will help foster an environment for “Flow.”

The culture of the staff is based on flow as the reward and goal. That is the intertwined energy sources “Flowing.” The environment would need to be able to support the Flow environment.

Our culture is to make working fun and creative, this will drive you, motivation and skill being stretched in a supportive environment is the recipe for success, and this is accomplished with the use of divergent and convergent problem-solving.

The two circles with the smaller colored waves is a visualization for Divergent thinking and the collection of mass ideas and filtering through the Convergent circle to get to the most Novel solution.

Creating flow through employees knowing their skills and stretching them to achieve more of the feeling of flow and achievement.

Moving Forward/Postmortem

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The Cold Facts Definition:
A project post-mortem is a process, usually performed at the conclusion of a project, to determine and analyze elements of the project that were successful or unsuccessful. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) refers to the process as lessons learned. Project post-mortems are intended to inform process improvements which mitigate future risks and to promote iterative best practices. Post-mortems are often considered a key component of, and ongoing precursor to, effective risk management.

Post-mortems can encompass both quantitative data and qualitative data. Quantitative data include the variance between the hours estimated for a project and the actual hours incurred. Qualitative data will often include stakeholder satisfaction, end-user satisfaction, team satisfaction, potential reusability and perceived quality of end-deliverables.