The Beginning of the End – Day four at the Lake District

Apprenticeship team work

After the exertion of the past two days, it’s fair to say that the group and I were leaning fairly heavily towards not wanting to do much today, with the overwhelming majority stating that a ‘chill’ day would be extremely welcome.  Of course, this being The Outward Bound Trust, that wasn’t on the agenda.  However this time it was up to the group to choose what they wanted to do, and despite the exhaustion, it soon turned out they were up for anything. 

The difficulty they faced was that when given the options to choose from, all they got was the name of the task and occasionally some very brief instructions.  They therefore had no idea what they were letting themselves in for when picking a task, but that didn’t stop them, they still chose to do task after task, just to see what they could accomplish in the time they had.  In fact it seemed that the more tasks they did, the more they wanted to do; towards the end of the day, with only 20 minutes left before the end of the day’s session, they still chose to do another task rather that sit and ‘chill’, despite not knowing what it would entail, or how long it might take, even though I was virtually ready for bed.

The tasks they undertook were extremely varied, covering everything from brain-teasers where they had to communicate and problem solve as a group, through to building a catapult to propel an egg as far as they could.  The willingness to try anything and get stuck in to any task no matter what, was a wonderful thing to see.  But more impressive than that, was the way they approached and completed a task as a team; there was no arguing, everyone got involved, no one tried to take over, and everyone was happy to help each other and try out each others’ ideas, with the sole aim of getting the task done, and having fun in the process.  For me, today was the highlight of the week; over the course of 8 hours the group completed 10 different tasks, all of varying difficulty and intensity, and yet with every single one they approached it with enthusiasm and enjoyment, and got stuck in without any complaint.  The focus was on enjoying this final full day and getting the most out of it and the whole week as possible, and this was articulated perfectly in the final debrief session of the day.  When discussing what lessons they’d learnt from the day, as well as during the week, the output was remarkable:

  • Anyone can be a leader – all you need is to be able to lead by example, and have confidence in your ability to work with people
  • It’s important to speak up when you have something to say, and even if your view isn’t accepted every time, at least you tried and had the conviction to offer it
  • The importance of a strong and well-bonded team and how having that support can inspire you to challenge and push yourself to exceed your personal expectations
  • The importance of being able to enjoy a task, and see the positive outcomes even if you don’t achieve the exact goal you set, and learning not to be deflated by ‘failures’
  • The need to listen to new ideas, and hear the input of others, and how using this input can help build upon existing ideas to create great things
  • The necessity for preparation, and how sometimes you have to take a step back and approach a task with a different strategy if it didn’t work first time
  • How important clear communication is, both verbal and non-verbal, and how adapting this can make all the difference when trying to achieve something, especially when working in a team

All of the points above were comments from individuals in the group, and summed up perfectly what they had all learnt throughout this week.  Every individual had something to say about their time, and each comment was unique to their experience and what they had personally learnt.  But yet there is so much more; things they may not even have realised they learnt, or may not recognise in themselves yet.  From my perspective the most profound thing I learnt was the amazing capacity for change that people have; even in four short days, the changes I’ve witnessed in this particular group are amazing – higher levels of confidence, improved communications skills, the ability to reflect, and most importantly, the ability to learn from experience and use this to improve in the future, and they haven’t only inspired that change in themselves and one another, they’ve inspired it in me.