Wednesday, July 18, 2007

When you look into the abyss...

This last Saturday, I had the privilege of going on a ropes course at Peak Adventures, which I am still reflecting on. Ropes courses are like a kind of mirror, a window into yourself, showing you in a basic environment how you resolve similar obstacles in real life. As in real life, the obstacles remain the same for everyone, but each person has a unique obstacle course inside them.

Should you ever do a ropes course, I don't want to spoil it for you because not knowing about the obstacles is 90% of the challenge, so I'll share only the lessons I learned about myself:

  • I can be given the simplest of tasks and be acutely aware of that task's importance, but still get caught up in the emotion of the moment and lose sight of my main goal. (Also, I'm okay with spilt milk. Happens.)

  • I may start out competitive, but end up seeing others being generous and become collaborative because it's more fun.

  • Accurately or not, others may see me "psyching up" as being overly analytical. Although I am usually very analytical, it still takes some time to psyche myself up for any major risk, from my perspective. I'm still unclear if that's me being overly analytical and I simply need to take the risk if the risk is really that simple.

  • I appear to trust others much more than I realized.

  • I'm okay with letting others take control if I think the job is getting done. However, if I think the job isn't getting done, I'm unafraid about being vocal until the group gets the job done. Finally, if the group is at an absolute deadlock, I'm prepared to taking unilateral action at the risk of taking heat for it later.

  • I'm less afraid of making suggestions than I used to be, especially if I'm around people I know won't immediately discard crazy ideas.

  • I don't feel like I try to lead others, but many think of me as a leader. Based on my actions, I suppose I am.

  • I used to always think I was open-minded... until I found on a previous ropes course that I had actually discarded a crazy "outside the box" suggestion, which turned out to be the solution to the obstacle—on this ropes course, I made a conscious effort to consider all ideas, no matter how crazy.

  • I'm often terrible about listening to directions; I'm a visual person and verbal directions will almost always need to be given to me twice.

  • I know when to speak up.

  • I know when to shut up.

  • I live my life by an honor code; I don't cheat.

  • I know my limits and I'm okay with not pushing past them; I'm not trying to prove anything to myself or others.

If you ever have a chance to do a ropes course, I would highly recommend it. They offer obstacles like climbing walls, walking tightwires, etc., but they also offer mind puzzles intended to be solved as a group. The latter of these are often where you learn the most about yourself and the group you're working with. However, depending on how committed the course instructors are, you are only forced to consider the true implications of your actions for the "real world" if they draw your attention to it.

Special thanks to Ray Dussault of Lai Khe Films for comping the ropes course for all cast and crew on Deer Season.

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