A warm welcome to ‘The Campfire’

This is our first ever newsletter!

We’re delighted you’re here. it would be lonely without you.

We’re calling our newsletter “The Campfire” because campfires are a great place to hang out with friends and share stories, and that’s what this is all about. A lot of our stories will be about teams of course because…well, you know, that’s what we do.

In this launch edition we’ve got lots of different articles and features and we hope you find something here that is helpful, inspiring and makes you think……. – and hopefully makes you laugh now and again – goodness knows we all need a good laugh these days.

We’d love you to forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues so more people can join us around the campfire – there’s a forward button at the bottom of this.
Let us know what you think of the newsletter and we’d love to hear your stories about teams so feel free to drop us a line.
Stay safe


Covid as Coach

The job of a coach is to ask “powerful questions” – ones that rock you to your core. Covid as coach has and continues to ask powerful questions of us all.

The job of a coach is to ask “powerful questions” – ones that rock you to your core. Covid as coach has and continues to ask powerful questions of us all.

Not so long ago, every day, every week, every month, every executive got on a plane, a train or an automobile to travel to meet with others. We did this to “think together”, we all believed that the best way to work and think together and build the trust that helps us challenge each other – was to get together. We all believed it’s how we do work effectively.

At 90% of these meetings and events executives tried to multitask. Poorly facilitated events allowed people to have “parallel” meetings. Some executives truly tried to be in two places at once, dashing from one room to another in the same hotel.

“Got to meet the lawyers”

“Have to speak to this customer” blah blah blah

Jet lag, boozy dinners, mornings with hang overs. In any one week 1000`s of childrens birthdays missed, wedding anniversaries skipped, all because we all believed “this is what we have to do – this is how it works”.

Millions spent world wide on airplanes and hotels – or should that be billions?

A lot of economic resources burnt in the belief that “this is how we do things round here”.

Then one day, somebody flew out of Wuhan. They sat next to someone at the airport in the departures lounge, and stood beside people in the line for a coffee. Everyone was flying somewhere else – to another meeting. They all sat next to people on their planes. They all met moved and mingled with momentum and meaning. Fizz, bang, whoosh, splash – Covid 19 entered the stage.

The global pandemic killed travel and hotels. Overnight movement and meetings were curtailed. The big “pause” button is pushed on. Covid starts to ask it’s questions:

Why are you meeting?
Why are you here?

The infections spread. Hospitals begin to fill. Everyone knows fear spreads faster than flu – and guess what it does here too. People begin to die and fear spreads.

Why are you here? Asks covid. Inevitably, incessantly, inextinguishably …. Why are you here? Come on humanity – what is life all about? Why are you here?

Cities become cleaner. Fresher air blows and billows around the planet. Bird song. Humanities pollution reduced.

Many teams and executives try to reduce their fears by playing safe. Unable now to meet – some teams default to focusing on the “to do list” on the assumption that you can’t build trust “online”. They wait and for “things to get back to normal.” They resist and feed their resistance to change waiting for “business as usual” so make them feel safe again. Fear is the fuel and exhaustion on these teams grows.

A few teams – with progressive leaders go the other way. They pivot. They listen for the deeper questions that Covid is asking. They and their teams are willing to leave the “old world” and “business a  usual” and start directly to explore and search for the New.

What if we can connect without being in the same room? What if we can build trust by listening to each other better. What if…. They confront the dragons of resistance that have kept them “safe” yet blind to potential. They discover there is far richer potential on the “other side of vulnerability” than is ever imagined from staying in the safety of the village called “business as usual”.

Because of this they started to discover the deeper invisible strong connective capacity of human beings to care for each other, to “feel” each other, to build a sense of tribe together. They “lived” the very real experience of oxytocin, love and connection flowing across teams between people who had never even been in the same room as each other.

“The climate crisis is far far bigger than me” whispers covid inevitably, incessantly, inextinguishably.

“Why are you here?” “What will you do with your one precious life?”

These brave pioneers could hear the call. They learnt to lead creatively together, collectively more intelligent as a team than any individual could be by themselves. They felt connected supported and encouraged by their team mates. They felt strong together. They built a sense of purpose, vision and shared endeavour that lifted their collective efforts to new heights.

Whilst those anxiously waiting for “business as usual” to “come back to normal” felt lonely, exhausted, and scared. And yet…. And yet….. Slowly, as humanity accepts covid is here to stay – even people who have resisted start to hear covids questions. And gently, deeply, powerfully humanity awakens. “Why are you here?” “Really, why are you here?”

Until finally

We all start to look after our physical well being

We practice looking after and caring for each other

New models of business emerge that help us all regenerate energy across family life and work life

We practice looking towards our networks. The New Normal is born.

We learn what it means to be a great team. A team, a tribe with life, a tribe with a purpose.

And the morale of the story is:

Pause. Step Back. Listen and Work Deeper.

And gently, deeply, powerfully humanity awakens to a purpose worth fighting for.


We loved this…

Each month we want to bring you the stuff about teams that gets us excited. This month it’s Sir Clive Woodward who has inspired us – he’s a super successful sports coach who took English rugby to be world champions in 2003. In particular we love his ideas on what he calls “Teamship”

‘Teamship is essentially team agreements – nothing new about the importance of having team agreements – what is new or at least rare is the way in which Sir Clive and the England rugby squad and staff went about creating them and sticking to them.

Here’s the ABCD version if you want to try it our for yourself.

A. Get the topic on the table – for example how is the team going to be around time?
B. As team leader ask the team to come to an agreement on time, and don’t take part in the conversation, let them work it out for themselves.
C. Reserve the right to step into your authority as team leader and say yes or no to their solution – or ask them to go back to the discussion and come back with a new proposal
D. 100% agreement – no kidding – if the team has a rule and they stick to it.

As it happens, the example he gave was about time, and after much discussion, the team decided that the agreement was that they would always be 10 minutes early for whatever meeting or event they were expected to attend. They called this agreement “Lombardi Time’ after the famous American football coach.

Once they agreed on the agreement, nobody was ever late for a meeting – in fact they were always early – as agreed – it became a part of their culture.

Teamship – common sense but not common practice.

Try it with your team or suggest it to your team leader – get the topic on the table, ask the team to figure it out without the team leader; team leader then decides yes or no or back to the drawing board. Once you have all reached an agreement – stick to it 100%

In our experience this is probably the most important step any team can take because strong agreements really do determine the culture in which team success grows.

Tony Barton

Living Team Heroes

We’re big fans of heroic journeys here at Living Teams HQ and we’re proud to have a whole team of heroes of our own. Each month we’ll introduce you to a member of the team so they can share their heroic journey with you. This month I am leading from the front to share some insights from my 66 years on the planet! This story is all about the start point of any heroic journey – the call to adventure. Helping me is my gorgeous grand daughter Ottilie who knows all about calls to adventure already!

Follow your bliss says Joseph Campbell, the man who has done so much to popularise “The Hero’s Journey. And I guess I have followed my bliss throughout my life although that becomes clearer with hindsight.

It all starts with a call to adventure – the call to leave your known world and set off on the path less travelled. I am so glad that I listened to the calls when they came. The first was to leave London to set off for Burton on Trent which signalled the start of a 10-year marketing career with Bass that had me face dragons on a weekly basis – I learned so much, not least that I was not an imposter after all. The next call came when I was 35 and had me follow my bliss to the new world of advertising agencies – not really knowing what I was letting myself I for – but that’s the point when you hear the call, you don’t know how the story will end, you just have to start living it. Another 10 years go by and I hear the call again – this time it’s different – the call is to a completely new adventure that has no destination, just an instinct that it’s time for a change. I left my ‘velvet rut’ and stared into the abyss! It took me 18 months but after setting up a one-man band marketing consultancy that did OK – I found my bliss once more, only this time it was on a whole new level. I trained to be a ‘life coach’ and began an exhilarating period of self-development and growth that took me to places and experiences I could never have imagined before. And I’m still following my bliss having just signed up for a new adventure co-founding Living Teams. My advice to anyone is to make sure they listen to those calls to adventure because they come when they are most needed and it’s your soul’s adventure to listen and respond – one short wild and precious life – it’s up to us what we choose to do with it.


Elephant Poop

What do you do when a 3 ton elephant poops in the middle of the room – I mean, that’s seriously embarrassing behaviour. This article explores the leadership choices we have between acting from fear or acting with courage for the sake of something even bigger than the elephant.

Many years ago, we took our 3 children to London zoo for a day out – the kids were aged about 3, 5, and 7 at the time. Despite the vast array of exotic species on display, they only had eyes for an elephant. One in particular. There’s no way to put this delicately – it was evacuating vast volumes of poop from a great height. The kids were both shocked and fascinated in equal measure. They didn’t actually say anything – it was a sort of secret which they hoped mum and dad weren’t in on!

And it makes me think of how this sort of thing goes on in team meetings all over the world!

It’s true isn’t it. You’re in the middle of a perfectly reasonable team meeting when suddenly someone (for no discernible reason) decides to drop a large smelly dollop of poop in the room. Everyone knows it but no one says anything. The elephant gets away with it again!

Here at Living Teams we rather pride ourselves on our ability to deal with the poop – when we see it or smell it, we name it and help clear it up.

Naming the elephant in the room is not as easy as it sounds – it takes courage.

And where do you find the courage?

That’s a great question and I think the answer has to do with purpose – you have to have a good enough reason to replace fear with courage – it has to be for the sake of something even bigger than the elephant!

Maybe it is for the sake of the team being able to focus on what is really important or it’s for the sake of honest feedback that is essential if the team is going to realise it’s potential. Maybe it’s for the sake of honouring a company or a team value.

Have a think about what’s at stake for your team next time an elephant drops in and see if you can find the courage to name the proverbial elephant in the room – you’ll be surprised how relieved people will be when you do – and the team will benefit hugely (which is kind of appropriate).

Each month we’ll share some experiences that will help you tackle some of the uncomfortable experiences we all face in our teams. If you have any great examples you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you.

Video 2

Living Teams Rock Moments

Nothing connects people more than great music, that’s why we’re all desperate to see a live show again – there’s something magical about live performance, especially live music, especially live ROCK music. For our first foray into the world of great rock music we have chosen “Beautiful Day’ by U2. This was recorded at a live concert – remember them – take a break and imagine you’re in the crowd…one beautiful day.

People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defences, or the problems of modern society

Vince Lombardi, football coach for the NFL (1913-1970)

Finding Our Voice

There’s a lot of work for us all to do when it comes to helping teams get through this pandemic in one piece.

A recent survey by Miro of 1000 remote workers across industries and countries reveals some scary stats. One third of remote workers start work less than 20 minutes after they wake up. 57% say they multitask in virtual meetings. 46% report an increase in workload since WFH.

This way of working is not sustainable.

We all need to find our voices to speak up and together find a better way to work.

Living Teams is all about bringing life to teams, sustainable, courageous life not compliant, get through another day life. People deserve better – especially now.

We all need to speak up – it’s the only way to change what is not working.

If this madness is affecting you, SPEAK UP in your next virtual meeting and see what happens…if not you…who? If not now – when?

Share your experiences with us. Together we can find our voice – together we can make a difference and show we really do care about the quality of our precious lives.

Drop me a line with your experiences – let’s start a SPEAK UP movement! tony.barton@livingteamsrock.com

From your hosts at Living Teams
Tony, Andy and Pip