Teamwork seems to me to be a critical component of education, and UF’s MBA program is crushing it when comes to making sure we are operating as a team. I’ve never gotten to know 35 people so quickly as I have these past two weeks, not even when I was in the Army. Besides our team building out at Lake Wauberg we have participated in no less than a dozen team activities or socials. I’m excited to see how our relationships develop over the next two years.
What stood out to me about the team building process that we’ve been through the last two weeks as a cohort was our experience at Lake Wauberg. It was interesting how similar some of the events we participated in tapped the same emotions the Army does during Basic Training and Airborne School. At the core of what unites people in the Army is dropping a group of people in a difficult fear inducing situation and allowing them to overcome that fear and achieve success. Obviously this process was a bit more intense in the Army than it was with UF’s MBA program, but it was surprisingly similar.
One of the key similarities was the fear component. During one of our events we were asked to climb a pole, stand on the top of the pole while it was wobbling to an uncomfortable degree, and then leap into the air to hit a large red ball. All of this was of course done while depending on your teammates to keep you safe via your harness and a pulley system. I admittedly got a rush out of the experience, and I use to be a paratrooper. You would think that jumping out of airplanes would desensitize you to a wobbly log, but it really didn’t.
Another component that caught my attention was dealing with rapidly deteriorating situations as a team to overcome obstacles. What started out as a seemingly innocent team exercise to get a stuffed penguin across an obstacle course turned into a sloppy mess. The activity coordinators kept telling us, as our feet fell off the platform, that we had become injured and then had to be tied to one another to make it through to the end. Believe me, negotiating obstacles while your hands and feet are tied to someone else is no easy task. The one who got it the worst had his eyes pecked out by the penguin (he got blind folded).
Imagine how much trust is required to blindly follow your teammates through an obstacle course. That’s no easy task.
We finally finished up the day by coming together to climb a wall. I almost feel like this portion was more symbolic than challenging, but it was still a good time.
In any case, I feel more confident and certainly closer to this motley crew. Will this translate into all of us getting better grades? Maybe not, but I do believe it helped us come together as a group, and how do you put a value on that? How do you put a value on being a member of a team you can trust? And perhaps it will result in us all walking away being more confident our abilities as team members and leaders.
What has been your favorite team building exercise or experience?