Monday, March 10, 2008

Learning the Ropes

On Saturday I participated in a ropes course with other members of the leadership at the South Campus of LifeChurch ( It was a great time and I hadn't done one of those courses for about 10 years.

I think my best lesson learned was on the island exercise. For those of you unfamiliar with that exercise, there are three wooden platforms (islands) - two of them about 3x3 feet and one about 2x2 feet. There are also three wooden planks of different sizes - long (about 8 feet), medium (about 6 feet) and short (about 3 feet). The goal is to get the entire team from one big island to the last big island without either boards or people touching the ground.

If a board touches the ground, you lose it. If a person touches the ground, they get a "disease". Our leader, Stephan, was the first to succumb to a disease. His disease was that everything he said had to be the opposite of what he really meant. So, if he thought we should use the long board, he would say, "Don't use the long board."

After over 30 minutes, we still did not successfully complete the event, but we did learn some good lessons about managing resources.

The thing I could really relate to is that as a consultant, I am used to people only following half of what I recommend (or less). It's funny. Companies pay me significant money to help them improve software testing processes, ask me how to fix them, then sometimes do just the opposite of what I recommend. Sadly, many times their efforts fail.

Never mind that I have seen many approaches succeed and fail in other companies. Some people just have an ego that says "We're too different here."

Sorry, ranting over.

The thing that I took away was that when we have to filter someone's language (negative to positive, one language to another), it takes time and concentration to get it right. It also shows how important good communication is when working on a problem. Things like speaking the same language, understanding the same thing.

The final thing I'll say was that jumping four feet across a gap at ground level is no big deal. At 30 feet above the ground, even with a line tied on, my heart beat a little faster. But then, I felt the joy of facing a fear and doing it anyway.

Face your fears today!


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