Talk to any alumni of Outward Bound and they will tell you four words:
It was life changing.
Yes, you say, impatiently. But what did you have to do? What should I be prepared for?
But that information remains a mystery until you’ve completed the course yourself, and thus earned the right to know.
You can’t exactly pack for epiphanies… so I left Auckland with nerves jangling, for a part of New Zealand I had never explored; the Marlborough Sounds.
Taking on the challenge would be huge for me (not to mention perfectly timed for my two year Xero-versary!). I was the girl who was terrified of public speaking and spoke about her application at All Hands anyway, who loved adventure but was afraid of heights and who just wanted an opportunity to grow and inspire others.
If I could do this, anyone could.
Learning #1 – Everyone faces Resistance
12 very different people came together in Anikiwa on November 6. All different ages, from different parts of New Zealand, in different industries with different reasons for being at Outward Bound, and all battling different fears. A 12K trail run that I couldn’t wait for filled one of my teammates with dread, while he completed the same high altitude obstacle course that had me quivering, with his eyes closed.
Moral of the story? One person’s demons might be someone else’s strengths. So, let’s help each other out and overcome that Resistance!
Learning #2 – Great things don’t grow in comfort zones
Halfway through the week we were told we’d be spending 24 hours alone in the bush, armed with just a sleeping bag, a canvas shelter, rudimentary knot tying skills and a bag of food.
What if I couldn’t get my shelter up in time? What if the Wekas attacked me in search of my food? Or what if, after being bitten by A Mysterious Creature of The Wild (exact cause still unknown) my face remained swollen forever and ever?
Irrational fears I knew – and the only way to deal with it was to plough on, remember the goals I had set at the start and the confidence I wanted to build. Every time you step into your challenge zone, your comfort zone becomes a little bigger. Just by being there, mine was growing and I was 100% better off for it.
Learning #3 – When 1+1+1=5 it’s a beautiful thing
As this was a professional development course, a lot of the learning centered around working better in teams. And not just any old team – the kind of high performing teams that produce exponentially better results. There is no better example of this than learning to sail. Our cutter went nowhere when the oars weren’t in sync, or when no one put their hand up to Captain the boat, but when we banded together, worked out the kinks in our team effort, and communicated effectively, it surged forwards with remarkable speed.
Learning #4 – There is more in you
This quote by Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound, resounded so deeply with me that it’s since been imprinted in my mind. Now, I’ll never forget what I can actually accomplish when I set my mind to it.
Where to from here?
5 days came to an end far too quickly, but now the real challenge begins. Translating everything I learned and applying it to my professional and personal life, holding myself accountable for the goals I set at the start, and saying bye-bye to my comfort zone at work once and for all.
A big thanks to Xero for this incredible opportunity. Outward Bound was without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my life.
You might even say it was life changing!
I encourage everyone to apply for the scholarship when entries open again next year. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself!