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Peacock Paradox – Personal Insights and Unique Team Building Activities with a Feather

By March 1, 2011January 5th, 2015No Comments

The Peacock Paradox: Balancing a feather can be really hard, or really easy… depending on where you focus. I just attended NCCPS, which is the facilitators “Un-Conference” in Boulder Colorado. The conference provides the opportunity to present new ideas and activities for team interactions, and one of my workshops was called the Peacock Paradox. Here’s the deal:

You take a 4 foot peacock feather, with the big eye at the top of the feather. This is the primary prop for a variety of different activities.

The first challenge: Balance the feather upright on your finger.

Try this: Take the 4 foot peacock feather and place the point of the feather on your index finger and while looking at your finger, try to balance the feather. The result: Feather Falls – very hard to balance!

Reframe: Again place the point of the feather on your finger and prepare for a second balance attempt of the feather. However, this time, look at the eye of the Peacock. The result: Feather balances perfectly – Very easy

WHY does this occur? This is the magic question! The beauty is in the exploration. And when life gives you peacock feathers, make metaphors!

My best guess? Focus. When we have a narrow focus, things are difficult. When we look up and have expansive vision toward the prize, toward the eye of the game, things are easier to balance.

You will come up with your own ideas as you experience the Peacock Paradox and discuss it with those around you. These team building activities are novel and unique and challenges can be easy or hard. Lots of framing and processing possibilities as well.

NOW, Here are a few additional thoughts on the use of a Peacock Feather in a team building activity.

Peacock Paradox Activities/Challenges

Pack the Peacock: In pairs, balance the feather on finger (harder) or palm and simultaneously toss and switch the feathers. Add complexity by doing that in a group. Highlights team coordination and task completion, with lots of smiles and laughter mixed in!

As an ice-breaker: Person shares something about themselves while balancing the feather, making the sharing easier because of the focus on the feather, not other people.

Tower of Peacock Feathers: While a group in a circle balances the feathers, lean all the feathers in toward the center so they lean on each other at the same time. Team coordination

Peacock Jousting: Partner up – GOAL: Face off with a partner, feet stationary and make your partner laugh by using only the feather. Fun Quick IceBreaker

Light as a Feather: A derivation of the classic “helium stick” initiative, except you use the feather. Works with as little as two people.

Peacock Push-Up: Team of 8 or so all lay their feather on the ground in an octagon. The goal: Lift all the feathers at once. Communication, Problem Solving, Team Dynamics

Things you might notice:
Perception impacts experience
When waving the feather up and down its hard, but side to side, easy. Evaluate and seek out the path of least existence.
When a peacock fans the feathers, they are perfectly aligned. They are meant to be together as one, to serve their purpose.

Using a Peacock Feather is just one more example of a unique way to create new experiences for teams that will increase the retention of a learning concept. Anchor the learning with something new and different, and have some FUN in the process!

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