Red Solo Cups and Responsibility – Leadership is a Choice #17

Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.


The elevator door opened on the 30th floor and revealed a whole new world. A world that resides at the top of the place I call home Monday through Friday. Where typical office walls are used just a few floors below, this floor is immaculate. A mahogany desk sits perfectly centered through double doors with the kindest-smiled person sitting behind it, eager to welcome you.  Traditional white molding and wainscoting frame the hallway that leads to a grand staircase that looks as if it you could walk straight up into the clouds.

The light poured in from the sky above as I climbed step by step to the event room. It was so quiet and peaceful that I wondered for just a second if the executives that inhabited these two floors were really here. About halfway up the staircase The Leadership Gift™ fellow accredited coach, Joe Astolfi very genuinely said, “You could be working up here one day.”

In all of a split-second I smiled and let my heart warm with his sentiment while also listening to my mind express a different desire than to make it to the top of this particular building.

After such an amazing morning doing powerful work it was the perfect beginning to an even more powerful afternoon.

As the double doors leading to the event room opened, there was no chance of noticing anything other than the skyline that wrapped around the far end of the room through the huge windows. I stood overlooking the skyline that has been my only home and paused to take in everything before me. It was one of those moments where the whole world slows down enough to allow my brain to let it all go. One of those moments I strive to achieve more often, I was carefree. Opinions couldn’t stain me and my own inner voice calmed to simply appreciate and take pride in where I was standing and what I was about to do.

The afternoon was going to be spent teaching a “Leadership without Authority” workshop for a diverse group of individuals all choosing to spend the afternoon with Joe and me.

I am sure no one even noticed me standing, frozen in a moment over by the window. I might as well have been alone as I took a deep breath and returned myself to the present.

I love what I do. I have a voice that is heard. I get to practice and teach responsibility today with a fellow coach, peer and friend. HOW FREAKING COOL!

Taking another deep breath (and one more mental picture of the skyline basking in the early afternoon sun) I returned mentally to the room, reinvigorated and ready to play!

This was not only the first time Joe and I were going to facilitate a workshop together, it was in the midst of the first ever agile conference which we helped to create and host, and included a new variation on the “Catch Sooner” game Christopher created.

As people began to fill the room I couldn’t help but get more and more excited that each of these people was about to get exposed to the most powerful material I know.

Joe did a fantastic and beautifully animated job walking them through each of the mental states as I got the pleasure of watching their reactions. I got to see their eyes look off into the distance at the person in their mind they identified with when he introduced blame. I watched the heads nod in agreement unconsciously and smiles cross their faces the deeper into The Responsibility Process® he went.  I saw their foreheads wrinkle in deep thought when he moved into explaining shame and I got to see their eyes light up when he talked of freedom, power and choice in a place of responsibility.

Just as it was really sinking in I got up to introduce a variation on the “Catch Sooner” game that was meant to help them understand and apply the material. They were all given three red solo cups and instructed to label them with the following:

  1. I heard it.
  2. I said it.
  3. I caught it.

They were told to put one label on each of the cups and then set the cups in front of them on the table. In the center of the round tables we had put fistfuls of Lifesaver candies (individually wrapped), these would become markers. I wanted to use something of substance so that they could really notice their cups fill up.

The rest of the instructions were easy, every time they heard a mental state expressed, said it themselves, or caught it before it got out they were to put a Lifesaver into the corresponding cup.

To really get the chance to hear it, say it, and catch it we had them play the Marshmallow Challenge. I won’t give away all the details but essentially it is a team challenge that gives plenty of opportunity to practice responsibility.

As I walked around the room watching these teams figure out how to work together I observed cups filling with Lifesavers. They were getting it! They were hearing it and more importantly they were becoming self-aware! Some were even catching it, just a few short minutes after first being introduced to the material. How powerful!

When the challenge was over we opened the floor to talk about what they observed and which cup had the majority of their Lifesavers.  It was interesting to see the mix of those that had the most Lifesavers in “I heard it” and the amount that had the most in “I said it”. They talked about examples of both of these as well as a few examples of when they became mentally aware first and didn’t let it get out during the exercise.

I finished the game by talking about intentions. Joe and I had an intention to start up a mastery group in the Columbus area and this seemed to be a perfect opportunity to invite this group of folks to join us. So I put the invite out there and asked that if anyone wanted to make the intention to join to leave us their contact information. Ok, time to claim a win! Out of 24 people 13 stated the intention to join us!

What a powerful experience sharing the most powerful material I know.


Jessica Soroky, CSM

IMG_3285Jessica is a Certified Scrum Master with over three years of practice in agile delivery and seven years of team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.


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Posted in Responsibility on 06/22/2015 08:59 am
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