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Safety

Feeling safe is a cornerstone of self-awareness and development. One method for making a group feel safe, while at the same time challenging and developing the group, is to create an "okay to fail-atmosphere".

Okay to Fail-Atmosphere

Security is a cornerstone of self-awareness and development. One method for making a group feel safe, while at the same time challenging and developing the group, is to create an “okay to fail-atmosphere”. If you dare to try new things, you will fail – and that’s good! The opposite of being successful is not failing, it’s not even trying.

When you fail you learn new things. You understand your own limitations at that particular time. If you do not give yourself even the opportunity to learn from the mistake, success will be impossible. And you survive 99.9% of all failures.

The challenge: dealing with embarrassment

Failing, or not doing what is considered right in a group, are among the most embarrassing things. Below are tips and exercises that help you, as a leader, create an atmosphere where it is perfectly okay to fail.

Tip: Huddle
Tip: Seriously
Tip: Have a Laugh
Exercise: Get to Know
Exercise: Theatre #1
Exercise: Theatre #2

The Huddle

Failure and to not do what is considered “right” are among the most embarrassing things that exist. That fear limits a group. Start with a huddle talking about being afraid of what others think, and about daring to “make a fool” of yourself.

Make it very clear that your space (room, studio, theater) is a safe zone. Here everyone is allowed to embarrass themselves as much as they want.

Take What is Embarrassing Seriously

When an embarrassing situation arises, talk about it at once. Never pretend like it isn’t embarrassing, when it obviously is to the youth.

Have a Laugh at Your Own Expense

What’s embarrassing often dissipates if leaders have a laugh at their own expense. Some dance moves, for example, can be embarrassing. Ask the youth if they think the movement is embarrassing, and be completely honest with the fact that you think some moves are embarrassing. But do them anyway!

The Get to Know Game

This is an extended version of the name game, where you, besides giving your name, add a verb while acting out the verb. The leaders set the tone by going first and allowing everyone to have a laugh at their expense. This is an opportunity to get a read of all participants. Who is more daring and who less so?

The Must Say Yes Game

Everyone walks around the room. When two people meet, one of them proposes something based on a predetermined theme, eg. animals or movements. The other must then say yes, and then they both perform the proposal. This creates a “yes-sayer”-atmosphere making the group more positive and courageous ahead of subsequent tasks.

The Hitchhiker

Divide the group into several smaller groups. One group at a time acts, while the rest sit as an audience. In the group acting, one is a driver, two are passengers and one is a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker decides on a mood. The car stops to pick up the hitchhiker who then transfers that mood to everyone in the car. After that everyone in the group changes parts. Everyone has to try all the parts. You can use yourself, if you are shy, be a hitchhiker who is shy!