Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words

NEW at 99-Word Stories

Talk Quick!
99-Word Stories to Spark Discussion about Common Management Issues
by Brian Remer

Talk Quick! is a collection of group discussion starters designed to inspire meaningful conversations about important management issues.
(12 Discussion Activities, 33 pages, Cross Referenced, $10)

Learn more HERE.

99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2014 Brian Remer
Updated Oct. 2014

99's on the 9th

Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.

October 2014

Read this story aloud or make copies for your group or team members.

Your Center
Fronton, a game like handball played on a two-walled court, originated in the Basque Country. You can find a fronton court in every Basque village no matter how small. It's usually at the central square and may even share a wall with an ancient church. Across the square you'll see a small bar or a restaurant.

It's hardly a surprise to find a fronton court, church, and bar side by side. Play, spirit, and friendship are central to Basque culture.

What's at the center of your "community" and what does it say about the things you value?


You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.

There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.

"The greatest revolution in our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." - William James

The movie "What the Bleep Do We Know?" uses an engaging story and interviews with scientists and philosophers to explain quantum physics and its significance for our daily lives. Quantum physics is the study of the actions of sub-atomic particles. One message of the film is that what we create inside us actually creates the world outside us. Our mind can have a direct influence on the physical world around us. We can change the outer aspects of our lives.

Experiments have been conducted on distilled water. A Zen Buddhist monk blessed the water with the "Chi of love" and "thank you," both pictures revealed a beautiful crystalline pattern more intricate than any snowflake. In contrast, the words "I hate you, I'll kill you" resulted in an image that was distorted, chaotic, discolored. So think about this: 90% of our bodies are water. If our thoughts can do that to water, what can they do to us?

This is more than just an academic question because things don't just happen; you have to make them happen.

Take community, for example. In his book, Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam describes two types of relationships that have to be present for a community to prosper. The first is "bonding relationships" which occur among people who have a similar affiliation such as family ties, professional experience, or personal interests like a sport, hobby, or club. The second type of connection Putnam calls "bridging relationships" which are the ties that connect different groups around shared issues and reduces the likelihood of working in separate silos. An example would be a neighborhood watch group, a youth club, and the participants of a senior lunch program collaborating to establish a corner playground.

Bonding relationships are important to foster a sense of belonging and personal responsibility. Bridging relationships are necessary to accomplish big projects and to produce results for the common good. Both are necessary and both must be consciously built. How you build them and whether you emphasize one over the other depends on what's at your center; what gives you drive and focus.

The last several years has brought a tremendous rise in the use of social networking and a wide variety of apps and technologies that help people connect. How many Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter followers do you have? Why you have them, how you relate to them, and how deep those relationship are depends on the "passion" at your center.

Sometimes it feels like we're racing to stay abreast of the exponential growth of the e-Community. But, ultimately, community is about people being together. Ironically, professionals who develop multi-player computer games, author on-line training, or administer MOOCs still cross hundreds of miles and spend thousands of dollars to meet at face-to-face conferences! You can use a technology or an app to help people connect but you still have to work hard to bring people together.

Though it's easy to click a few "likes" and make friends on-line, what is the dynamic that "clicks" to spark a real friendship? I think it's that moment when we share a bit of what's at our center; what makes us tick. There's a risk in being that vulnerable and it's easy to hide safely behind snazzy technologies that insulate us from sharing our center.

But if we are willing to take a risk, we can build communities, organizations, teams, and relationships that both bond and bridge. By focusing on our center, we can change the world around us.

Bowling Alone By Robert Putnam Simon and Schuster 2001 ISBN-13: 9780743203043

"What the Bleep Do We Know?" Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman 2005


Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.

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