Feds gone wild

What can be said about the federal agencies caught in decadent scandals?  The Secret Service, traditionally known for its probity and integirty, has 11 agents who were in Columbia arranging for the president’s security for a summit meeting getting caught with 21 prostitutes.  The General Services Administration, which handles procurement for the federal government, procured a Las Vegas resort to host a lavish retreat to the tune of $823,000 in taxpayer money.  (And it is coming out that this is not the first time the GSA hosted that kind of junket, as the link above.)

The most ludicrous comment I’ve come across is that the GSA has been trying to emulate the private sector, insinuating that private companies do this sort of thing all the time and that this is what we get for trying to privatize government functions.

It is true that private companies also sometimes blow fortunes on this sort of thing, but that’s between them and their shareholders.  But let’s draw a lesson here for everyone.  What bothers me more than the indulgence in expensive food and drink is how lame the expensive programming was.  A mind-reader who doubles as a motivational speaker (cost:  $3,200 plus expenses).  A team-building exercise in which everyone broke into small groups to assemble a bicycle (cost:  $73,000).

Can we just all agree to stop paying for motivational speakers?  And could we cut out all team-building exercises?  That includes falling back into someone’s arms and doing things with ropes.

Would not all of you who have been subjected to such things whether you are from the private or the public or the church sector, agree that these are ALWAYS worthless and a waste of time and money?  And that they are invariably excruciating to endure and unutterably LAME?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://lwtheology.wordpress.com tdoig

    Well, it gets that way a bit, but I can tell you climbing the power pole on a challenge course is not-so-lame. In fact, it builds confidence pretty well while giving a huge adrenaline rush.

  • http://lwtheology.wordpress.com tdoig

    Well, it gets that way a bit, but I can tell you climbing the power pole on a challenge course is not-so-lame. In fact, it builds confidence pretty well while giving a huge adrenaline rush.

  • Pete

    Interesting post and it contrasts nicely with the “lutheran parsonage” post. The “team-building, motivational speaker” mindset vs. the “lutheran parsonage” mindset. Matter and anti-matter. (Or “matter” and “doesn’t matter much”, for that matter). One wonders if the proliferation of this “motivational” nonsense is symptomatic of our declining education system. Back in the day (WARNING – the curmudgeon meter is about to register in the red zone) motivation was provided by the educational system in the form of rewards for excellence and achievement and motivated individuals were produced. But as this view came to be looked at as (at best) damaging to the self-esteem of some, or (at worst) racist, the educational effluent was less self-motivated to the extent that now a conversion of sorts is required in order to get people motivated. Effort is now expended that was unnecessary in years gone by. One might also wonder whether the decline of the family might factor into this, as well.

  • Pete

    Interesting post and it contrasts nicely with the “lutheran parsonage” post. The “team-building, motivational speaker” mindset vs. the “lutheran parsonage” mindset. Matter and anti-matter. (Or “matter” and “doesn’t matter much”, for that matter). One wonders if the proliferation of this “motivational” nonsense is symptomatic of our declining education system. Back in the day (WARNING – the curmudgeon meter is about to register in the red zone) motivation was provided by the educational system in the form of rewards for excellence and achievement and motivated individuals were produced. But as this view came to be looked at as (at best) damaging to the self-esteem of some, or (at worst) racist, the educational effluent was less self-motivated to the extent that now a conversion of sorts is required in order to get people motivated. Effort is now expended that was unnecessary in years gone by. One might also wonder whether the decline of the family might factor into this, as well.

  • Michael B.

    “And could we cut out all team-building exercises? That includes falling back into someone’s arms and doing things with ropes. Would not all of you who have been subjected to such things whether you are from the private or the public or the church sector, agree that these are ALWAYS worthless and a waste of time and money? And that they are invariably excruciating to endure and unutterably LAME?”

    I’ll definitely agree to that. They’re also condescending. They made us do things like that in elementary school. They’re basically a way for a poor speaker to try to get his audience engaged. It’s very similar to when a speaker says “say good morning like you mean it”.

  • Michael B.

    “And could we cut out all team-building exercises? That includes falling back into someone’s arms and doing things with ropes. Would not all of you who have been subjected to such things whether you are from the private or the public or the church sector, agree that these are ALWAYS worthless and a waste of time and money? And that they are invariably excruciating to endure and unutterably LAME?”

    I’ll definitely agree to that. They’re also condescending. They made us do things like that in elementary school. They’re basically a way for a poor speaker to try to get his audience engaged. It’s very similar to when a speaker says “say good morning like you mean it”.

  • Tom Hering

    Can we just all agree to stop paying for motivational speakers? And could we cut out all team-building exercises? That includes falling back into someone’s arms and doing things with ropes.

    I thought we talked about contemporary worship yesterday.

  • Tom Hering

    Can we just all agree to stop paying for motivational speakers? And could we cut out all team-building exercises? That includes falling back into someone’s arms and doing things with ropes.

    I thought we talked about contemporary worship yesterday.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Tom @ 4, well said!

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Tom @ 4, well said!

  • Booklover

    When I was a public school teacher, the days that we sat through a motivational speaker were entirely wasted. It never seemed possible to find a speaker that would apply to all teachers in all subjects K-12.

    They would have done far better by giving each teacher a few bucks to spend on some much needed items followed by an afternoon of rest. Or we could have visited master teachers in other classrooms for mentoring purposes. There are so many other better ideas.

  • Booklover

    When I was a public school teacher, the days that we sat through a motivational speaker were entirely wasted. It never seemed possible to find a speaker that would apply to all teachers in all subjects K-12.

    They would have done far better by giving each teacher a few bucks to spend on some much needed items followed by an afternoon of rest. Or we could have visited master teachers in other classrooms for mentoring purposes. There are so many other better ideas.

  • Caleb Land

    YES! Thank you so much, I have worked in camp ministry and student ministry for years, so I have been subjected to an inordinate amount of team building and lame motivational speakers…down with them all.

  • Caleb Land

    YES! Thank you so much, I have worked in camp ministry and student ministry for years, so I have been subjected to an inordinate amount of team building and lame motivational speakers…down with them all.

  • Mary

    How about Bible studies on Sunday morning when the Pastor utters the words: “Now let’s break in to small groups and discuss among yourselves. We will then come back to the main group and you can share what you, ( fill in the blank here) learned, thought or felt about the subject.”
    I want to run screaming out of the room, and my husband is even more uncomfortable with it.

  • Mary

    How about Bible studies on Sunday morning when the Pastor utters the words: “Now let’s break in to small groups and discuss among yourselves. We will then come back to the main group and you can share what you, ( fill in the blank here) learned, thought or felt about the subject.”
    I want to run screaming out of the room, and my husband is even more uncomfortable with it.

  • Danny

    Reintroduce dodgeball. Inespensive, builds confidence and gets the blood flowing…especially in cold weather.

  • Danny

    Reintroduce dodgeball. Inespensive, builds confidence and gets the blood flowing…especially in cold weather.

  • Tom Hering

    Is everyone here familiar with this anti-inspirational/motivational manifesto?

  • Tom Hering

    Is everyone here familiar with this anti-inspirational/motivational manifesto?

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    These excesses are not anomalies. “Privileges” are an important part of a centralized government with a group that sees itself, however tacitly, as the ruling class. The more exceptional (or transgressive) the better, because it separates the class from the ho polio.
    Get used to it. This is our future.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    These excesses are not anomalies. “Privileges” are an important part of a centralized government with a group that sees itself, however tacitly, as the ruling class. The more exceptional (or transgressive) the better, because it separates the class from the ho polio.
    Get used to it. This is our future.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    The one thing I can say about “team building exercises” is that it forces managers to stop going to meetings and actually interact with their subordinates. Not that you couldn’t achieve the same thing by directing managers to do exactly that and hold them accountable, but if you do it right, a team building exercise does wake people up to the fact that they have colleagues and subordinates.

    Unless, of course, the managers clique by themselves, which is what often happens. Oh well.

    (one of the best bits from John Maxwell’s leadership courses is a rebuke he gave to a subordinate; after the man walked by a bunch of church members to “get to work,” Maxwell walked into his office and gently–or not so gently–reminded him that his primary work was out in the hall, not in his office)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    The one thing I can say about “team building exercises” is that it forces managers to stop going to meetings and actually interact with their subordinates. Not that you couldn’t achieve the same thing by directing managers to do exactly that and hold them accountable, but if you do it right, a team building exercise does wake people up to the fact that they have colleagues and subordinates.

    Unless, of course, the managers clique by themselves, which is what often happens. Oh well.

    (one of the best bits from John Maxwell’s leadership courses is a rebuke he gave to a subordinate; after the man walked by a bunch of church members to “get to work,” Maxwell walked into his office and gently–or not so gently–reminded him that his primary work was out in the hall, not in his office)

  • Jon

    Here, here, amen!

  • Jon

    Here, here, amen!

  • http://dwaynephillips.net Dwayne Phillips

    “That includes falling back into someone’s arms and doing things with ropes.”

    The ropes! Why did you have to mention the ropes? I had finally moved past the nightmares of the ropes, and you bring them back.

    THE ROPES!

  • http://dwaynephillips.net Dwayne Phillips

    “That includes falling back into someone’s arms and doing things with ropes.”

    The ropes! Why did you have to mention the ropes? I had finally moved past the nightmares of the ropes, and you bring them back.

    THE ROPES!

  • Rev. Mike

    In the mid 1990′s at a pastor’s conference, the round table discussion was on the following topic: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

    I was so insulted by the infantile nature of the exercise that when it was my turn, I told them that I was a mouldering old stump in a deserted forest. Then it got fun.

    All the pastors took it to mean I was depressed and in need of crises counseling. There must be some chart someplace that gives psychoanalysis according to tree type.

    As I tried to hold in my laughter at this ultimate mockery which I had achieved, my eyes started watering and my lips began to tremble. This only exacerbated the situation . My closest friends which I only met 5 minutes ago were begging for an opportunity to help.

    I ran out of the conference room and then through the doors to outside where I laughed myself silly.

    That laugh was the best part of the whole conference.

  • Rev. Mike

    In the mid 1990′s at a pastor’s conference, the round table discussion was on the following topic: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

    I was so insulted by the infantile nature of the exercise that when it was my turn, I told them that I was a mouldering old stump in a deserted forest. Then it got fun.

    All the pastors took it to mean I was depressed and in need of crises counseling. There must be some chart someplace that gives psychoanalysis according to tree type.

    As I tried to hold in my laughter at this ultimate mockery which I had achieved, my eyes started watering and my lips began to tremble. This only exacerbated the situation . My closest friends which I only met 5 minutes ago were begging for an opportunity to help.

    I ran out of the conference room and then through the doors to outside where I laughed myself silly.

    That laugh was the best part of the whole conference.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    A mind-reader who doubles as a motivational speaker (cost: $3,200 plus expenses).

    In the words of Julian Smith, “We can sell you anything!”

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    A mind-reader who doubles as a motivational speaker (cost: $3,200 plus expenses).

    In the words of Julian Smith, “We can sell you anything!”

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I will defend motivational speakers.

    Personal story. A friend of mine sells Mary Kay. She gave me a tape of that was a pitch to sell Mary Kay. The lady was very encouraging, etc., and talked about her success selling Mary Kay. Now, I never signed on to sell Mary Kay but I listened to the tape on multiple occasions for the encouraging sound of her voice and she made some very interesting points about having realistic expectations from a business venture and not to expect a business to fix your life or make you happy per se. You know, even someone in a humble job like that can have some helpful and wise things to consider. Anyway, there are a lot of people who don’t hear much of an encouraging word and feel burdened by criticism and expectations. Motivational speakers can help some people who do need that encouragement. It is more the tone than the content that helps people, I think. Perhaps that is why preachers like Osteen are so popular. He meets emotional needs. I think it is a mistake to overlook the genuine need for encouragement. It is easier to criticize.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I will defend motivational speakers.

    Personal story. A friend of mine sells Mary Kay. She gave me a tape of that was a pitch to sell Mary Kay. The lady was very encouraging, etc., and talked about her success selling Mary Kay. Now, I never signed on to sell Mary Kay but I listened to the tape on multiple occasions for the encouraging sound of her voice and she made some very interesting points about having realistic expectations from a business venture and not to expect a business to fix your life or make you happy per se. You know, even someone in a humble job like that can have some helpful and wise things to consider. Anyway, there are a lot of people who don’t hear much of an encouraging word and feel burdened by criticism and expectations. Motivational speakers can help some people who do need that encouragement. It is more the tone than the content that helps people, I think. Perhaps that is why preachers like Osteen are so popular. He meets emotional needs. I think it is a mistake to overlook the genuine need for encouragement. It is easier to criticize.

  • JonSLC

    Mary @8: I understand your discomfort with the breakout group concept. It can be overdone and/or poorly done. In fact, I remember one of my seminary professors years ago quipping that the too-true saying about Lutherans “When Jesus returns, we’ll miss it because we’ll all be in committee meetings” should be changed to “We’ll all be in breakout groups!”

    Their frequent overuse notwithstanding, I use breakout groups sometimes in Bible classes I teach. My rationale: I have observed that some Christians have almost never talked about spiritual matters out loud in their own words. Still, we encourage people to have spiritual conversations with their children, other relatives, neighbors and coworkers. A daunting task, if you’ve never vocalized Scriptural truths before! I find that breakout groups can be a simple way of helping people learn to discuss Scripture in a safe environment. Added to that: retention of what we’re learning seems to increase when people talk about it in addition to hearing it. But, as with virtually all things, discussion groups are best done in moderation.

  • JonSLC

    Mary @8: I understand your discomfort with the breakout group concept. It can be overdone and/or poorly done. In fact, I remember one of my seminary professors years ago quipping that the too-true saying about Lutherans “When Jesus returns, we’ll miss it because we’ll all be in committee meetings” should be changed to “We’ll all be in breakout groups!”

    Their frequent overuse notwithstanding, I use breakout groups sometimes in Bible classes I teach. My rationale: I have observed that some Christians have almost never talked about spiritual matters out loud in their own words. Still, we encourage people to have spiritual conversations with their children, other relatives, neighbors and coworkers. A daunting task, if you’ve never vocalized Scriptural truths before! I find that breakout groups can be a simple way of helping people learn to discuss Scripture in a safe environment. Added to that: retention of what we’re learning seems to increase when people talk about it in addition to hearing it. But, as with virtually all things, discussion groups are best done in moderation.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I don’t like the motivational speaker and team building exercise in general – and I think the government spending scandal is obscene (but at the same time I am pretty jaded by it all and not surprised).

    There are certainly extremes in this space (motivational speakers, team-building, etc.) but I file this under the same heading as yesterday’s contemporary worship post, which is – “things some people don’t like”.

    The only thing that I would add is that there is a difference in not liking something and passing judgment on it. And that difference can be the difference between preference/taste and self-righteousness.

    Just a thought.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I don’t like the motivational speaker and team building exercise in general – and I think the government spending scandal is obscene (but at the same time I am pretty jaded by it all and not surprised).

    There are certainly extremes in this space (motivational speakers, team-building, etc.) but I file this under the same heading as yesterday’s contemporary worship post, which is – “things some people don’t like”.

    The only thing that I would add is that there is a difference in not liking something and passing judgment on it. And that difference can be the difference between preference/taste and self-righteousness.

    Just a thought.

  • Jacob

    I had to go to a motivational/communication class (the whole organzation had to go, not just me). Anyway, I must have quickly been outed as a subversive. The facilitator (I hate that word) asked each person what is an important factor in communication. People gave replies like, “be prepared,” all the way to an answer like, “you gotta keep telling people what they need to hear until they get it” (most people were nodding in agreement). When the facilitator asked me to name an important factor in communication, I said, “I think one thing that gets overlooked a lot is listening”. The facilitator seemed a little startled. The somewhat noisy room fell silent. The facilitator quickly switched to other questions and I don’t think I was asked to “participate” in anything again all day (I wasn’t kicked out but thenceforth I was ignored). And communication was poor in the organization and no motivational speaking helped.

  • Jacob

    I had to go to a motivational/communication class (the whole organzation had to go, not just me). Anyway, I must have quickly been outed as a subversive. The facilitator (I hate that word) asked each person what is an important factor in communication. People gave replies like, “be prepared,” all the way to an answer like, “you gotta keep telling people what they need to hear until they get it” (most people were nodding in agreement). When the facilitator asked me to name an important factor in communication, I said, “I think one thing that gets overlooked a lot is listening”. The facilitator seemed a little startled. The somewhat noisy room fell silent. The facilitator quickly switched to other questions and I don’t think I was asked to “participate” in anything again all day (I wasn’t kicked out but thenceforth I was ignored). And communication was poor in the organization and no motivational speaking helped.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I couldn’t disagree more strongly. While there are silly substitutes and excesses, team building exercises are essential to team unity. This is why military training is little more than extended team-building exercises. In my MBA program we began with a day of team building exercises – the games allowed us to figure out who were the planners, who were the doers, who were the leaders, etc. Later in the program, some teams had new members join half way through – these teams immediately plummeted in quality and output. It generally took three to six months for a team to recover what it had previously gained in only one day.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I couldn’t disagree more strongly. While there are silly substitutes and excesses, team building exercises are essential to team unity. This is why military training is little more than extended team-building exercises. In my MBA program we began with a day of team building exercises – the games allowed us to figure out who were the planners, who were the doers, who were the leaders, etc. Later in the program, some teams had new members join half way through – these teams immediately plummeted in quality and output. It generally took three to six months for a team to recover what it had previously gained in only one day.

  • Joe

    team building occurs when the team is actually building something. There is no substitute for actually operating as a team. The motivation for the success of the team is not whether we trust each other its that we have to trust each other or we will fail.

    The problem with the fake team building exercises is that they are not real and they are generally applied to people who are actually on a team together.

  • Joe

    team building occurs when the team is actually building something. There is no substitute for actually operating as a team. The motivation for the success of the team is not whether we trust each other its that we have to trust each other or we will fail.

    The problem with the fake team building exercises is that they are not real and they are generally applied to people who are actually on a team together.

  • helen

    Pastor Spomer April 19, 2012 at 10:29 am
    These excesses are not anomalies. “Privileges” are an important part of a centralized government with a group that sees itself, however tacitly, as the ruling class. The more exceptional (or transgressive) the better, because it separates the class from the ho polio.
    Get used to it. This is our future.

    Sort of like the gold copes discussed on another blog as appropriate for DP’s because of their rank? :(

  • helen

    Pastor Spomer April 19, 2012 at 10:29 am
    These excesses are not anomalies. “Privileges” are an important part of a centralized government with a group that sees itself, however tacitly, as the ruling class. The more exceptional (or transgressive) the better, because it separates the class from the ho polio.
    Get used to it. This is our future.

    Sort of like the gold copes discussed on another blog as appropriate for DP’s because of their rank? :(

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John said (@21):

    This is why military training is little more than extended team-building exercises.

    Which prompts the follow-up question: does the military employ ropes courses? Do they hire motivational speakers? Or, as Joe said, do they actually teach their team members the skills they need to do their job, and then train at doing the actual job over and over?

    I’ve not served in the military, so while my questions are loaded, they are sincere questions. Inform me. Maybe I’ll learn something.

    Meanwhile, may I express my surprise and amusement at the fact that the generally right-leaning denizens of this blog have chosen to focus their vitriol almost exclusively at “motivational” speakers and “team-building” exercises, even though this blog post could have equally lent itself to your standard right-wing government-bashing.

    I think the “motivational” industry should be put on notice: you are significantly less popular than the government, and this among people who ostensibly believe that “government is the problem”. Ouch!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John said (@21):

    This is why military training is little more than extended team-building exercises.

    Which prompts the follow-up question: does the military employ ropes courses? Do they hire motivational speakers? Or, as Joe said, do they actually teach their team members the skills they need to do their job, and then train at doing the actual job over and over?

    I’ve not served in the military, so while my questions are loaded, they are sincere questions. Inform me. Maybe I’ll learn something.

    Meanwhile, may I express my surprise and amusement at the fact that the generally right-leaning denizens of this blog have chosen to focus their vitriol almost exclusively at “motivational” speakers and “team-building” exercises, even though this blog post could have equally lent itself to your standard right-wing government-bashing.

    I think the “motivational” industry should be put on notice: you are significantly less popular than the government, and this among people who ostensibly believe that “government is the problem”. Ouch!

  • Joe

    My final clause should be “they are generally applied to people who are NOT actually on a team …”

  • Joe

    My final clause should be “they are generally applied to people who are NOT actually on a team …”

  • Tom Hering

    Jacob @ 20. Barbara Ehrenreich (Bright-Sided) tells how in one breast-cancer support group she attended as a patient, you were kicked out if you said your cancer had returned, because cancer only returns if you have a negative attitude, and no one wanted a negative attitude to spread to others in the group, and so cause their cancers to return, too. (The unscientific “cancer personality” theory.) In other words, you got kicked off the team.

    In team environments, the team matters much more than the truth. Which is why, I’d argue, cover-ups are common in team environments. (There’s an example in the news every week involving the police, or an agency, or a business, or the military.) And why, I’d argue, a team environment is bad for the Church. (The scandal of abusive priests, and the RCC’s cover-up, is just one example.)

  • Tom Hering

    Jacob @ 20. Barbara Ehrenreich (Bright-Sided) tells how in one breast-cancer support group she attended as a patient, you were kicked out if you said your cancer had returned, because cancer only returns if you have a negative attitude, and no one wanted a negative attitude to spread to others in the group, and so cause their cancers to return, too. (The unscientific “cancer personality” theory.) In other words, you got kicked off the team.

    In team environments, the team matters much more than the truth. Which is why, I’d argue, cover-ups are common in team environments. (There’s an example in the news every week involving the police, or an agency, or a business, or the military.) And why, I’d argue, a team environment is bad for the Church. (The scandal of abusive priests, and the RCC’s cover-up, is just one example.)

  • SKPeterson

    An excellent take on this situation is from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show, but it is rather ribald commentary. Basically, he decries the lameness of clowns and cheap trinkets when the conference was in Las Vegas; the GSA is a disgrace to corruption not so much by spending almost a million dollars of taxpayer money, but for spending it on lame crap.

  • SKPeterson

    An excellent take on this situation is from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show, but it is rather ribald commentary. Basically, he decries the lameness of clowns and cheap trinkets when the conference was in Las Vegas; the GSA is a disgrace to corruption not so much by spending almost a million dollars of taxpayer money, but for spending it on lame crap.

  • Jacob

    Tom,

    Your story about the woman who was thrown out of a cancer support group for saying that her cancer had returned is horrendous but not shocking. That sounds similar to the prosperity “churches” that chide/persecute their members who get ill or suffer financial setbacks – “If you were really saved, you would have faith and God would heal you.” But psychological abuse can happen in corporate settings, in some sort of team building exercise where people are encouraged to engage in groupthink and dissidents are punished. I think some such exercises might be done with good intentions, but there are other situations where it seems the goal is to take already-battered people and brow-beat them some more in the guise of helping them. Maybe in some situations the goal is to purge independent thought.

  • Jacob

    Tom,

    Your story about the woman who was thrown out of a cancer support group for saying that her cancer had returned is horrendous but not shocking. That sounds similar to the prosperity “churches” that chide/persecute their members who get ill or suffer financial setbacks – “If you were really saved, you would have faith and God would heal you.” But psychological abuse can happen in corporate settings, in some sort of team building exercise where people are encouraged to engage in groupthink and dissidents are punished. I think some such exercises might be done with good intentions, but there are other situations where it seems the goal is to take already-battered people and brow-beat them some more in the guise of helping them. Maybe in some situations the goal is to purge independent thought.

  • Joe

    tODD you are spot on. Back when I was Sgt. Olson, squad leader in the US Army Reserves, I did not have my squad link arms and take turns catching each other as we leaned back off a table. Instead, I gave them our mission, explained what tactics we had studied and practiced would get us to our goal, and reminded them that if we can’t count on each other to do our jobs we would all end up dead (well, fake dead it was training but with the most awesome combination of blank rounds and lazer tag ever conceived by man).

  • Joe

    tODD you are spot on. Back when I was Sgt. Olson, squad leader in the US Army Reserves, I did not have my squad link arms and take turns catching each other as we leaned back off a table. Instead, I gave them our mission, explained what tactics we had studied and practiced would get us to our goal, and reminded them that if we can’t count on each other to do our jobs we would all end up dead (well, fake dead it was training but with the most awesome combination of blank rounds and lazer tag ever conceived by man).

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Whenever you have people with some power (government) and when they have access to other people’s money (money they did not earn)…you will have corruption.

    Small government…smaller corruption. Larger government…larger corruption.

    Our Founding Fathers new that simple truth.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Whenever you have people with some power (government) and when they have access to other people’s money (money they did not earn)…you will have corruption.

    Small government…smaller corruption. Larger government…larger corruption.

    Our Founding Fathers new that simple truth.

  • Stephanie

    I actually enjoyed the one ropes course I did. But then, I also took a flying trapeze class for fun (twice) so…

    As for general team-building activities: I have enjoyed most that I have taken part in, but that was highly dependent on enjoying the team with which I was doing them. I used to work for a company that had annual retreats. The lamest team building thing we did was a photo scavenger hunt in Las Vegas. The best? Tie between white water rafting just outside of Sacramento and scuba diving in Hawaii. (Ok, fine, the scuba diving was better, but shorter.)

  • Stephanie

    I actually enjoyed the one ropes course I did. But then, I also took a flying trapeze class for fun (twice) so…

    As for general team-building activities: I have enjoyed most that I have taken part in, but that was highly dependent on enjoying the team with which I was doing them. I used to work for a company that had annual retreats. The lamest team building thing we did was a photo scavenger hunt in Las Vegas. The best? Tie between white water rafting just outside of Sacramento and scuba diving in Hawaii. (Ok, fine, the scuba diving was better, but shorter.)

  • Michael B.

    “Your story about the woman who was thrown out of a cancer support group for saying that her cancer had returned is horrendous but not shocking. That sounds similar to the prosperity “churches” that chide/persecute their members who get ill or suffer financial setbacks – “If you were really saved, you would have faith and God would heal you.”

    Poor Jesus. What a shame he missed out of the powerful message of Christianity, which promises health, wealth, and great family and friends.

  • Michael B.

    “Your story about the woman who was thrown out of a cancer support group for saying that her cancer had returned is horrendous but not shocking. That sounds similar to the prosperity “churches” that chide/persecute their members who get ill or suffer financial setbacks – “If you were really saved, you would have faith and God would heal you.”

    Poor Jesus. What a shame he missed out of the powerful message of Christianity, which promises health, wealth, and great family and friends.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Personally, I have benefitted from motivational speakers, though I have little experience with team building exercises. I have known several people who have really been helped by various speakers and self-help authors. It helps to take a’ two kingdom’ view of such things and realize that while you can do somethinbg about your temporal situation, your salvation and spirituality are by grace through faith alone in Christ.

    As to corruption in the government and the GSA in particular, are we really shocked, and should we expect that they would waste our tax money in a more tasteful and productive manner?

  • Patrick Kyle

    Personally, I have benefitted from motivational speakers, though I have little experience with team building exercises. I have known several people who have really been helped by various speakers and self-help authors. It helps to take a’ two kingdom’ view of such things and realize that while you can do somethinbg about your temporal situation, your salvation and spirituality are by grace through faith alone in Christ.

    As to corruption in the government and the GSA in particular, are we really shocked, and should we expect that they would waste our tax money in a more tasteful and productive manner?

  • Jacob

    Okay, I should not be all negative. I don’t like motivational speaking when it uses gimmicks or psychological manipulation. I do have one positive experience with a motivational speaker. I heard a motivational speaker who was a retired athelete. He spoke about how to bounce back from failure. He related how he lost a race because he was over-confident, and his overconfidence caused him to be complacent and he lost the race at the last minute. He worked hard for months preparing for the event, but he let it all unravel in a few minutes. He was humbled by that experience and being humbled by a failure caused him to reform his attitude and it ultimately made him a better athelete.

    At that time I was trying to get over a rough spot in my life, where I experienced failure after enjoying a period of success. Hearing him describe how he struggled and got over his disappointment did help me to snap out of it and leave behind a bad situation. Now if I had gone to a speech about “Twelve Steps to Positive Thinking” it would not have helped me at all.

  • Jacob

    Okay, I should not be all negative. I don’t like motivational speaking when it uses gimmicks or psychological manipulation. I do have one positive experience with a motivational speaker. I heard a motivational speaker who was a retired athelete. He spoke about how to bounce back from failure. He related how he lost a race because he was over-confident, and his overconfidence caused him to be complacent and he lost the race at the last minute. He worked hard for months preparing for the event, but he let it all unravel in a few minutes. He was humbled by that experience and being humbled by a failure caused him to reform his attitude and it ultimately made him a better athelete.

    At that time I was trying to get over a rough spot in my life, where I experienced failure after enjoying a period of success. Hearing him describe how he struggled and got over his disappointment did help me to snap out of it and leave behind a bad situation. Now if I had gone to a speech about “Twelve Steps to Positive Thinking” it would not have helped me at all.

  • Michael B.

    Motivation speakers and team-building exercises are 2 totally different things. A motivational speaker can hold the audience by himself. These are people like Joel Osteen and Anthony Robbins. Team-building speakers are often local hacks that companies hire. They can’t hold an audience by their own speaking alone, and thus need audience participation.

  • Michael B.

    Motivation speakers and team-building exercises are 2 totally different things. A motivational speaker can hold the audience by himself. These are people like Joel Osteen and Anthony Robbins. Team-building speakers are often local hacks that companies hire. They can’t hold an audience by their own speaking alone, and thus need audience participation.

  • Rose

    It’s surprising that national security concerns are raised when they were smothered during the Monica Lewinsky-Chandra Levy 90s.
    Reckless behavior invites blackmail of high officials.

  • Rose

    It’s surprising that national security concerns are raised when they were smothered during the Monica Lewinsky-Chandra Levy 90s.
    Reckless behavior invites blackmail of high officials.

  • Jon

    @24 tODD, asks

    “Which prompts the follow-up question: does the military employ ropes courses? Do they hire motivational speakers? Or, as Joe said, do they actually teach their team members the skills they need to do their job, and then train at doing the actual job over and over?”

    In a word, yes. You might be surprised how much of this stuff the military does, how much they spend on it, all of the very latest and greatest gimmicks. Including ropes and blindfolds, trees and colors. Oh, and, of course, the motivational speakers-out the wazoo. Every professional military education course is chuck-full of this stuff. Only, in the military, you have to put up with it.

  • Jon

    @24 tODD, asks

    “Which prompts the follow-up question: does the military employ ropes courses? Do they hire motivational speakers? Or, as Joe said, do they actually teach their team members the skills they need to do their job, and then train at doing the actual job over and over?”

    In a word, yes. You might be surprised how much of this stuff the military does, how much they spend on it, all of the very latest and greatest gimmicks. Including ropes and blindfolds, trees and colors. Oh, and, of course, the motivational speakers-out the wazoo. Every professional military education course is chuck-full of this stuff. Only, in the military, you have to put up with it.


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