A great icebreaker exercise (that also works well for groups where some members know each other) is to do a timeline.  Give participants about a yard of adding machine tape if you can find it, or just do so by pretending that each is crafting a timeline of their life.  Most timelines run from birth to present.

Have participants indicate (or draw) three or four “dots” of things that would be noted on their life’s timeline — beyond the obvious.  So instead of indicating the birth of a child, one may put “falling out of a tree when I was 7 years old because that’s what led to a career in physical therapy.”  Or “volunteering to do canvassing for an election”, because it led to a position on the city council.  Or “taking Mrs. Weiler’s English class in high school” because it gave me the confidence to write.  Etc. 

When finished noting the dots, participants either share with each other or with the whole group.  It’s a wonderful way to do some self-reflection, to recognize the impact of little things on our life’s outcomes and to learn more about each other.  Think about your timeline — what dots would you draw today?

— beth triplett


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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