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The “career” of classic cartoon character, Wile E. Coyote, can be defined by thousands of unsuccessful attempts to capture and eat the Road Runner. Coyote put thought and strategy into each of his plots, however suffered many more painful failures than successes. The Coyote’s lack of success cannot be attributed to his lack of effort or confidence – always determined to design, and attempt, a new innovative plan. Wile E. Coyote was only a cartoon character; however, much can be learned from his efforts and unrelenting confidence!

In some of EMPOWER’s adventure programs; I have observed a couple of concerning trends amongst the youth and young adult participants – a lack of self-confidence and ability to think creatively, problem solve, and make decisions. Too many times do I hear the phrase “I or We can’t” or “It’s too difficult”; leading to the question of “Why do so many youths and young adults share this mentality?”.

During a recent program at Naugatuck High School, organized by three student members of the school’s DECA program in collaboration with Naugatuck Youth and Family Services, the question of “how do you develop confidence” was posed by one of the middle school student participants. The answer to this question is not simple; however, intentional practices may better prepare youths and young adults to tackle life’s challenges with greater levels of confidence. Confidence, much like trust in others, is developed through experiences or opportunities over time; however, not every opportunity is a “risk worth taking”.

Check out the steps below to help youths develop greater self-confidence, sound decision making skills, and the ability to work through challenges with a focused process; while breaking free from the fruitless search for an “easy out”.

Step 1: Defining Risk

Risk can be defined as a situation in which the end-result is an “unknown”. Simple stated, “if I do X, I don’t know what will happen”. Some risks, like the devious plots schemed by Wile E. Coyote, are destined for failure, regardless of his confidence; while other risks carry a higher chance of a positive outcome. At EMPOWER, we define a risk under one of two categories – Positive Risk or Negative Risk. A Positive Risk, while the results are never a guarantee, carry more potential positive outcomes than negative. A Negative Risk carries more potential negative than positive outcomes.

Step 2: Practice the “Opportunity Risk Assessment”

Teaching youths and young adults to problem solve starts with the “Opportunity Risk Assessment”. Take time to work alongside youths as they learn to categorize an opportunity as either a Positive or Negative Risk. Take a sheet of poster paper and write the opportunity on top of the paper. Split the paper in half, label one half “+” and the other “-”, then brainstorm all the potential outcomes of the opportunity and assign them to the appropriate side of the paper (plus or minus). You will now have a basic risk assessment process which identifies the potential positive and negative outcomes associated with the opportunity. This process can be applied to the many decisions youths and young adults are faced with daily!

Step 3: The Decision

The  youth’s decision to accept or decline will require support and mentorship. Ensuring that a youth or young adult has a positive support system helps when confronted with the difficult decision of accepting or declining an opportunity in which the outcome is unknown. The youth will experience feelings of uncertainty, nervousness, anxiousness, and vulnerability – during this time of “the unknown”. Surrounding the youth with positive role models and leaders will help quiet the uncertainty. It is also wise to remind the youth that accepting or declining a risk does not guarantee a certain result – remember a risk is only a risk because of the “unknown”!

Step 4: Win, Lose, or Draw = WINNING

As stated earlier, the result of a risk can never be assumed. After following through on your decision regarding the “opportunity” or risk, take time to process and reflect upon the result(s). If a youth successfully completes a situation deemed a Positive Risk, she or he will be able to “bank” that experience for other experiences similar in nature – leading to a more confident self in the future. If a youth falls short (i.e. doesn’t get the main role in the play) in a Positive Risk situation, reflect upon the shortcoming and identify a strategy to improve for future situations – leading to a greater ability to persevere through challenge and fostering an attitude of self-improvement and grit. By avoiding a Negative Risk, a youth or young adult will have greater confidence in her/his ability to avoid similar risky situations in the future.


The question “How do you develop confidence?” does not carry a direct, short and sweet, answer. To develop confidence, trust, decision-making, perseverance, leadership, and team skills, one must recognize and assess the many opportunities available each day – accepting the positive risks while avoiding the negative. Those opportunities, when combined with positive support and mentorship, will help youths avoid the “it’s too difficult mentality”, instead they will develop into more confident problem solvers and leaders!


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Introducing Empower Adventures Tampa Bay with

The Two Tickets to Paradise Winter Giveaway

EMPOWER Leadership & Adventure Center in partnership with
Empower Adventures Tampa Bay and Innisbrook Resort


Entries for the Two Tickets to Paradise Winter Giveaway are now closed. Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner!!!


EMPOWER Leadership & Adventure Center is giving away an escape from the harsh winter cold! Enter for a chance to win a 2017 winter getaway; including a $500.00 Southwest Airline Gift Certificate, two nights in a luxurious executive suite at Innisbrook Resort, and a day of adventuring with Empower Adventures Tampa Bay; including their Extreme Zip & Sip Adventure!

Entering the giveaway is easy – complete a very short online entry form – including your first and last name, email and phone number; and hope to be the winner contacted on January 16th, 2017!

The goal of this promotion is to spread the news about the towering adventures taking place at Empower Adventures Tampa Bay.

CEO and Founder of EMPOWER Leadership Sports & Adventure Center and Founder/President of Empower Adventures (Middleburg, VA), Joe DeRing is now bringing his expertise in thrilling adventures, meaningful leadership lessons, and first-class team building training to the Greater Tampa area of Florida.

In June 2016, Empower Adventures Tampa Bay (EATB) began operation as the first adventure facility of its kind in the area. EATB’s home is the Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Reserve, located in the northernmost part of Pinellas County between the Mobbly Bayou and Old Tampa Bay.

Adventuring with EATB includes an amazing Zip Line Canopy Tour, a towering Aerial Obstacle Course, and their signature Extreme Zip Tour (3.5 hours) – a combination of 5 picturesque zip lines, a 200’ suspension bridge, log swings, cable traverses, pole jumps and simulated free falls! You will also enjoy spotting many shorebirds, including ospreys, herons, and roseate spoonbills, during your 5-star, professionally guided adventure at EATB.


Click here for giveaway entry, details, terms & conditions

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The winter months can provide excitement and energy for many; plenty of time with family and friends during the Holidays, weekend skiing or snowboarding trips, the NFL playoffs, MLB “Hot Stove” discussions, college basketball, and SCHOOL VACATIONS!!! The changes in season, however, can also elicit a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), SAD is a form of seasonal depression, triggered by the change in seasons, occurring primarily in the winter. The AAFP states that as many as 20 percent of people may suffer from a mild form of SAD, while 4-6 percent suffer from SAD, as the days get shorter and colder. All forms of depression impact the way a person interacts with others, function well at work, and generally live life to the fullest!

Seasonal mood shifts are often connected to feelings of less energy, losing interest in favorite activities, feeling less social, craving carbs and unhealthy foods, and negative changes in sleep patterns according to author Sarah DiGiulio.

Don’t let the cold air and short days get you down this winter! Here are some strategies to overcome the Winter Blues!

  • Help Others Who are in Need: Lift your spirits by lifting those of someone in need! Collect and donate non-perishable food items to your local food pantry, volunteer your time in food service, delivery or charitable events, or collect and donate winter coats, hats & gloves. Visit the Connecticut Food Bank for more information about opportunities to help others who are in need!
  • Spend Time with Friends & Family: Combat that anti-social attitude by setting up fun game nights with friends or a happy hour with co-workers.
  • Pick up a New Hobby or Dust Off an Old One: Tune up that old guitar, bust out the knitting tools and yarn, or build bird houses for family members. Spend at least a few minutes each day taking part in an enjoyable hobby!
  • Let the Sunshine in: Open the blinds and let there be light! Your body craves light and will be uplifted by a little extra sunshine!
  • Watch your Diet & Eat Smarter: I have trouble turning down that 3rd piece of pie during the holiday; however will be work hard to avoid the trap of unhealthy “comfort foods” this winter.
  • Pump up the Jams: My musical “guilty pleasure” is disco – I wasn’t around during the disco craze but nothing adds positive energy to my day like a loud listen to Disco Inferno by the Trammps or a little Barry White!
  • Simulate Dawn during Morning Wake-Up: Having trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Try out a dawn simulator, which gradually brightens your room each morning!
  • Get Outside & Exercise: According to a Harvard University study, a 35-minute brisk walk 5 times a week can improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression. This winter, make an attempt to shovel for an hour before busting out the snow blower – may help brighten your mood!
  • Plan a Getaway: The anticipation of a sunny vacation will surely lift your spirits this winter. It is always fun to look forward to an exciting adventure.


Win a Trip for 2 to Tampa, Florida this Winter

Holiday Gift Ideas from EMPOWER

Check out EMPOWER’s Winter Adventure Programs


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In 1990 and 1991, the Gulf War captured the attention of the world in a matter never before seen. People, for the first time, had the ability to watch live news broadcasts from the front lines of Operations Desert Storm on their home televisions; captivating millions, igniting feelings of fear and anxiousness in many, and inspiring patriotism amongst those in support of the United States Military Services.

At the time, the footage of the Gulf War was something I could not completely wrap my head around. I knew our Country was at war and I knew this was an event of significant magnitude; however, as a 10 year old boy who was an avid sports-enthusiast, much of my focus, as well as that of my younger brothers, was on the New York Giants’ run to Super Bowl 25. I vividly remember concern about the game being played, the tear-jerking rendition of The National Anthem by Whitney Houston, the entire crowd waving American Flags, and the nail-biting Giant win.

My life experiences in 1990 and 1991 were quite a bit different from those of former United States Army Captain, Army Ranger, and Founder of EMPOWER Leadership & Adventure Center Joe DeRing. Veterans Day is a time to honor all of those who have served in the United States Armed Forces; and, in the spirit of honoring Joe’s service, we sat down to learn a bit more about his journey.

We grew up about 10 minutes away from each other, played the same sports and went to the same high school. However, our journeys are quite different. Tell us about why you enlisted in the United States Army.

I became excited about the military, and especially the Army, during Operation Desert Storm. Watching the war unfold on TV as a young teenager opened my eyes to the possibility of becoming a soldier. I think the most appealing part of that whole time was the way it made me feel like a true patriot. I remember vividly riding my bicycle in the pouring rain to Main Street in Portland to watch the parade/motorcade of a young Portland resident who had just returned home from that war and thinking of him as a true hero. From that point forward, I always wanted to become a soldier.

After graduating from Xavier High School, you enrolled at the University of Delaware – earning a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarship and playing Division 1AA Football. You were commissioned on May 27th, 2000 at the University of Delaware following your graduation; tell us about your time serving our Country.

I cherished every moment of my time as an Infantry Officer and learned many important life lessons during my 8 years in the Army. Four days after graduating from Delaware, I reported to FT Lewis Washington as a 2nd Lieutenant and soon thereafter entered the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, Air Assault School, Ranger School at Fort Benning Georgia. I reported to my first infantry platoon at the 101st Airborne Division in March of 2001 and spent the next 6 months as a Rifle Company Platoon Leader in the STRIKE Brigade (502nd INF).


Everyone’s life changed on 9/11/01, including those of us in the STRIKE Brigade. From then on, we had a laser focus of preparing for war. Our division sent some units to Afghanistan in the winter of 2001 in search of Bin Laden, but not mine. My company deployed all over the continental US securing Nuclear Weapons sites.

In February of 2003, now a motorized platoon leader, my unit was deployed to Kuwait to prepare for the invasion of Iraq. On March 19, 2003, my Company D Co 1-502 INF helped lead the ground invasion of Iraq by crossing over from Kuwait to Iraq heading northward to Baghdad. Within a week, we’d be in Baghdad and soon after that, securing the northern city of Mosul. When the invasion was complete in May, we had covered over 750 miles from Kuwait to Baghdad to Haditha to Mosul. I redeployed back to FT Campbell in March of 2004.


18 months later, I was ordered back to the Middle East – this time to Afghanistan. After additional training, I deployed as part of a special task force to train the Afghan National Army and Police Force in September of 2006. I landed in Kabul Afghanistan as part of Task Force Phoenix and became part of a new team. This was a very challenging mission and took me all over the country of Afghanistan from Kabul to Jalalabad to Gardez to Kandahar. When the dust settled, I was part of a team that trained over 2,500 Afghan security forces in counter-insurgency operations. I redeployed back to the US in September 2007.

Tell us about your journey since your return in 2007.

In 2008 I decided it was time for a different challenge. I transitioned out of the Army and into self-employment. It was then that I decided that I wanted to use my Army adventures and experience to teach leadership and team development. Less than 7 months later, we opened EMPOWER Leadership Sports & Adventure Center.

Shortly after opening in Middletown, we had an opportunity to partner with Salamander Hotels & Resorts at their new property in Middleburg, Virginia. It was here that we opened our second venue, Empower Adventures Middleburg. In the summer of 2015, we were once again contacted by an interested land owner. The city of Oldsmar, Florida contacted us about building a zip line adventure course in one of their city parks and a year later we opened Empower Adventures Tampa Bay.

Joe being awesome!

Share your thoughts on what Veterans Day means to you.

I enjoy Veterans Day for all the ceremonies and patriotism, but to be honest, every day is Veterans Day to me. I think about my fellow comrades and platoon-mates every single day. There isn’t one of those young men that I served with that I don’t pray for daily. I hope anyone reading this will pray for them too.


Joe DeRing currently oversees the operations of Empower Adventures Tampa Bay and provides oversight, leadership and support, on a daily basis, to his Empower teammates in Middleburg, VA and Middletown, CT. Empower and Joe’s incredible personal journey from battlefield to inspirational adventure operator has now been featured on CNN, Fox, the Washington Business Journal, and numerous other media outlets across the US.


Posted by & filed under Blog, Zip Zag.



Coaching Tools You can Use in Your Business


According to the Harvard Business Review, coaching your employees may be the single most important skill for strong leaders. In a study of Fortune 100 companies, the majority of leaders reported that coaching improved productivity, quality, and teamwork. Coaching can also lift morale and lower turnover.


I think there is nothing more refreshing and admirable than a company who employs certified coaches for their employees. Google does it!

Coaching is a skill, an artwork, and a profession requiring specific education, continuous personal development, and an understanding of different assessment tools.


Coaching is about actively listening and engaging in empathic conversation. It’s about giving direction, through asking the right questions and waiting for the answers. It’s about feeling for the answers that lie buried within.


Unlike consulting, coaching digs deep into people’s wants, needs, and fears. And unlike therapy, coaching spends very little time in the “has been” of the past and focuses on the present and the future.


Here are a few questions I ask my clients over and over:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be in a year from now?
  • What’s working for you right now?
  • What isn’t working for you?


But there’s more. Coaching is an art form. It’s about intuition, about when to speak and when to listen, about the soft skills that create trust, and the hard skills that create change. Most importantly coaching is about understanding personalities.


Most coaches use some form of assessment tool to understand their clients better. And it’s something a lot of companies are starting to do also. It’s an opportunity to understand your employees better. Now you can understand:

  • Why they do that
  • Why they say that
  • Why they react like that


There are a lot of different assessment tools out there right now. Here are a few I like to use. I think they would be beneficial in your business also:

  • Myers Briggs—this is always a favorite. It gets the conversation started amongst your employees and people in general. You can find the Myers-Briggs test online.
  • The 5 Love Languages—I used to think this was a quiz only for romantic relationships but I know better now. It’s a quick online test that gets you thinking about why some people make you feel like you’re on cloud nine and others like you don’t matter. It’s great for figuring out personality clashes at work. Click here for the online quiz.
  • DiSC profile— this assessment tool is used by millions of people every year. This personality test shows you how you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress and how you solve problems.. You can find several DiSC tests online.
  • CVI assessment—a newer assessment tool that explains your innate nature and how you are wired to think, act, and communicate. It can be used to increase personal awareness, improve teamwork, hire the right person for the job, or match people with jobs to create only top performers. Unlike other personality tests, this character-assessment boasts a 94% repeat reliability rate. Click here to take the assessment.


Coaching will do wonders for your employees. Who doesn’t want to talk to someone who understands them, who cares about their wants, needs, and desires, and who takes an active interest in their emotional well-being? If you don’t want to hire a coach quite yet, you will now have some tools to start you on your path to understanding “them” better. Because in the long run, your business problems always come back to your people problems. As Steve Covey said: “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”


Dr. Jung is a professional coach working with individuals and small businesses eager to invest in their personal growth, their leadership skills, and their teams. She helps you thrive by tapping into those values most important to you and your team. It’s her mission to solve your personal challenges and your people problems by creating a positive and emotionally safe workplace for you and your employees.

Dr. Jung heals businesses from the inside out; she looks for the causes behind your challenges and addresses those, not just the symptoms.
She is dedicated to turning your company into an efficient, organized, and happy business that will thrive even when you are out of the office. Click here to learn more.


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What are some benefits of after-school enrichment programs? What are students learning during organized after-school activity that they aren’t getting during the regular school day?

What happens during the school day tends to be driven by efforts to improve district test scores, sometimes losing site of the individual student; their personalities, their interests, their creativity, their non-academic successes and their personal/social struggles. Despite current shortages in leadership talent among 60% of US companies (Sue Ashford and Steve DeRue), there isn’t much out there focusing on formal leadership training for a large number of youths that takes place during the school day.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with approximately 50 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders over the past 7 weeks (yes, this blog is WAY overdue) as part of a weekly after-school enrichment program. The first few sessions focused on development of positive trusting relationships, program norms and expectations, and introductory problem solving skills. In collaboration with the students, we created a list of Leadership Qualities (including tangible “real-life” examples) that serves as our program’s “Success Chart”. The list includes Respect (“listening to others without talking over them”), Grit (“demonstrating toughness”), Honesty (“no back stabbing”), Pride (“speaking with confidence”), Attention to Detail (“following directions”), Responsibility (“having control of words/actions”), and Safety (“looking out for and helping other”).

We are only a third of the way into the program and it has been amazing to see the students, both individually and as a group, strive to improve each of the Leadership Qualities listed above. Stay tuned for more posts throughout the year. Our next program is December 18th and then we’ll hit the ground running after the Holiday break!

Worc PipelineWorc Triangle Tag










1) Practicing a little self-responsibility and attention to detail in the Pipeline Challenge

2) Students work to protect their teammate during a game of Triangle Tag; keeping their teammate safe!