Photo by Renaud Camus
Last week I had to make a work trip to Melbourne for a 2 day training session. While it might sound great to travel, all expenses paid by your employer, it really isn’t that glamorous. It usually requires getting up at ‘stupid o’clock’ in the morning, you know, that time when even the roosters are sleeping, making your way to the airport, sitting on a 2 hour flight next to someone who keeps elbowing you as they read their newspaper or wants to spend the flight talking about their infatuation with tractors. Then having to jump in a cab to the venue, spend the whole day in a classroom, rush to the hotel to check-in, drop off your bags, meet up with the rest of the team for dinner and a chat, get back to the hotel about 11pm, fall into bed, get up at 7am for the second day, pack your stuff because you can’t come back to the room, spend another day in the classroom, rush to the airport for another 2 hour flight getting elbowed, jump in a cab home and exhale… Not my idea of fun.
This time, however, was different. This time they flew us down the day before. It was a much better experience, giving us time to go to the hotel, drop stuff off, get cleaned up before and actually relax a little before we got into the work the following day. This time, the 2 days were actually very interesting and… dare I say it… Fun! We completed a treasure hunt game where you are overloaded with rules, given 30 seconds to plan and then put under pressure to make decisions in the game with a very tight time schedule for each turn and lots of chaos going on all around you in the room. There are people running around, music playing, organisers shouting across the room, etc… and while being fun, it was all very confusing. We did have the opportunity to forfeit a few turns to get more info and plan, but in the thick of the competitive environment we were all pumped up and everyone said, ‘stuff that, let’s go!’
The point, as you may have gathered, was to see how you cope under stress, but not only that, it was also to see if you could take the time to get the right information in that environment. Needless to say, at the game, we failed miserably. As people though, I think we excelled. Everyone that was present participated to the best of their ability. We all reflected on what went wrong and what we need to work on to improve. We all took ownership of our downfalls and took the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.
So, what did I take from the experience? I learnt a couple of things in this session.
- That we should get as much information as we can and make a plan, before we embark on any new venture. Even if we are under pressure. As it turned out, that had we forfeited a few turns, we would have received information that would have saved us time, made us more money in the game and seen us make it across the finish line (we ended up dying in a desert and being eaten by vultures).
- That we need to Identify our mistakes, accept them and use them to improve.
These learnings apply to all areas of life and, of particular interest to me, I can apply them to my writing.
I believe that experience comes from trying, and you can only fail, if you stop trying.