Custom Built Team Building and Leadership Initiative Training


Cowboy Up – A Free Icebreaker

The majority of the Paradigm Shift team is from Oklahoma, so we like a good cowboy activity from time-to-time. This activity gives your participants options on how they want to proceed as a cowboy.

Cowboy Up

Number of Participants: 5-15
Time: 5-10 minutes
Activity Level: Moderate
Props: None

Description: This activity is a last participant standing activity that will get your group laughing and thinking at the same time (what a great combo).

Circle your group up! All participants can choose to do 1 of 3 things each round:

  1. Load: Take your hand pistols out of your holsters and raise them in the air, thus loading your gun.
  2. Shoot: Point your hand pistols at another participant in the circle and imitate your best pistol noises.
  3. Defend: Place your hands across your chest (mummy-style) to defend from a pistol shot.

Play this activity in rounds until you have a lone ranger in the group. Following the rules below, the facilitator will count to three and then each participant will choose one of the three options. If a participant is shooting, they must clearly point to another person in the circle. This activity is played on a level of trust, and therefore if someone says you are shot, by golly, you are shot.


  1. A participant cannot shoot unless they have loaded their gun.
  2. If a participant shoots, they must reload before they can shoot again.
  3. If you are defending yourself, you will not be eliminated from the activity.
  4. If you are shot, you are eliminated from the game.

Let us know if we can help you implement this into your program’s curriculum.

Ryan Eller
Founder, Paradigm Shift

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Which Foot Do You Hop On? 3 Fun Ways to Split Your Group

Several times throughout a sequence of activities you will come across a need to split your group in half. I have learned three fun ways to split the group without having to count-off or count people. Each of the following activities somehow will divide the group of participants pretty close to equal. Try them out for a quick change of pace.

1. What Foot Do You Hop On?

Ask each participant to hop on one foot. Tell the people hopping on their left foot to move to one side of the room, and the people hopping on their right foot to move to the other side of the room.

2. Thumbs on Top

Instruct the participants to clasp their hands and interlock their fingers. Once their hands have been clasped, have the people with their right thumb on top of their hands separate from those with their left thumb on top.

3. Cross Your Arms

Ask the participants to fold their arms across their chest, and see which arm is on top of the other arm.

What other ways have you used to split a group?

Gridwalk – A Group Problem Solving and Team Building Initiative

Great team-building and problem-solving initiatives are sometimes hard to find. Look no further, because this classic leadership activity is perfect for small groups looking to accomplish a task while working together.



Number of Participants: 5-25
Time:  15-30 minutes
Activity Level: Low-Moderate
Props: Gridwalk Tarp and Gridwalk Map

Objective: For the entire group to cross the grid following the pre-determined path.

Setup – Get a tarp (preferably), a sheet, or just some tape on the ground and make a 7×7 grid of squares with each square being 1 square foot.


  1. One participant on the grid at a time.
  2. If the participant steps on the wrong squares (not in the direction of the path), the entire group must start over.
  3. After stepping on a wrong square, the participant must leave the grid in the exact order in which they entered the grid (basically walking the path backwards).
  4. If a person does not follow the path correctly, they lose their verbal communication for the rest of the activity.
  5. After a participant crosses the entire path on the grid and gets to the other side, they lose verbal and nonverbal communication abilities. We do this so that those students who do not pay any attention must pay the consequences.

The goal for the group is to cross the grid as quickly as possible by following the path on the Gridwalk map.


Have you used Gridwalk with your team? What variations have you implemented to best suit your teams needs?

If you have any questions on how to add this to your program’s curriculum, just let me know!

Ryan Eller
Founder, Paradigm Shift






Paradigm Shift Week in Review – Where Have We Been?

The Paradigm Shift team loves to travel. That is one of the greatest parts of being in the leadership business. This week we traveled to Missouri, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

TRiO Specific Professional Training

Our team hosted a TRiO Specific Professional Training in Joplin, MO at Missouri Southern State University. We had counselors, tutors, and educators from MO and Oklahoma represented. In this train-the-trainer event we focused on activities that would allow professionals to better connect and engage their students on the way to academic success. Check out the pictures from the event by clicking here.


Head Start Keynote Address

Next Ryan Eller and his personal assistant, Jerrod Murr, delivered a keynote address to over 100 Head Start educators in Tahlequah, OK. We challenged the group to enrich their personal dreams and goals by becoming a Music Maker and Dreamer of Dreams. Check out the pictures from the event by clicking here.


St Olaf College Leadership Workshop

We hosted a workshop at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN with the Student Support Services Summer Bridge team. It included 37 incoming college freshmen from all over the United States. We had a blast as we developed our personal leadership skills and group communication techniques. Check out the pictures from the event by clicking here.


Lindsey Wilson College Project Success Leadership Team

Finally, we had a wonderful day at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY with the Project Success leadership team. We focused on celebrating individual success and group communication development. We laughed, we cried, we played. It was one of our all-time favorite trainings. Check out the pictures from the event by clicking here.



If you would like to have the Paradigm Shift team come work with your team or group, contact Ryan at or call 918.931.2053. Check out the different workshop opportunities on our workshop page.



Playdough Debrief – Use This Classic Tool After a Team-Building Activity

I love simple processing activities. When I finish an activity or a day’s worth of programming I often need an easy tool to debrief all of the emotions and experiences we have shared. It doesn’t get much easier than playing with playdough! The classic toy helps the kinesthetic and tactile learners in your group learn while they shape it into different objects. Use this activity for groups looking to move and create while they process.


Playdough Debrief

Number of Participants: 6-45
Time:  5-15 minutes
Activity Level: Low
Props:  Playdough

Objective: To use the playdough to sculpt your thoughts about an activity or workshop.

Instruct the participants to use playdough to sculpt their emotions or feelings about the activity or workshop.

That’s it! It doesn’t get much easier than that. Have you used playdough as a debriefing tool? What tools or props do you use to process a group?

Ryan Eller
Founder, Paradigm Shift


Camp War Eagle & Ozone Leadership Day

Paradigm Shift had the good fortune to travel to Northwest Arkansas and facilitate a workshop with the LEAD & Job Readiness students for the Ozone and Camp War Eagle team. We focused on specific leadership development and pragmatic group communication. This team quickly learned the aspects of personal growth through experiential learning.


You can check out all of the pictures from the event here and more information about Camp War Eagle and Ozone by clicking here.

Trashball – A Leadership Team Building Activity Focused on Integrity

Have you ever had a group find the “gray area” of the rules? A group that tries to skirt around the edges of the activity to get a competitive advantage?

I come across groups and teams like this all of the time, and it always comes back to integrity…doing the right thing when no one is watching. This activity is perfect for processing and encouraging integrity within a group. Don’t give the group any instructions except what is written below, and then let them play. Let the play go on longer than they expect, and then call it when things get intense. Typically I have groups who will continue throwing even after I ask them to stop.

It is after this when I can discuss integrity and following the rules with the team. Try it out and let me know what you think!



Number of Participants: 5-75
Time:  5-10 minutes
Activity Level: High
Props:  Throwables, Boundary Line

Objective:  To get as many pieces of trash in your neighbor’s lawn as possible.

Divide the group into two teams and scatter an equal amount of throwables on their side of the boundary line. Tell them that the other team is up to no good and keeps throwing trash on their perfectly manicured lawn.

Their goal is to throw as much trash from their lawn onto their neighbors before the end of the activity. Don’t tell them how much time they have to complete this activity.

The issue is that the neighbors dislike each other so much that they have placed a 20-30 foot tall fence in between the two lawns, and the teams must throw the trashballs over the fence to get to the other side.

Sources: The Bottomless Bag Again by Karl Rohnke – pg. 73.

What types of integrity activities do you use with your group? Have you ever played Trashball?

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