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Outward Bound Professional: The adventure of a lifetime

Posted 2 years ago in Xero news by
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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.


To give you a bit of context, I won the inaugural Xero Memorial Scholarship for a spot at Outward Bound Professional, a five day professional development and leadership course in the great outdoors.

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.

Uh oh.

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.outward-bound-professional

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!


November 29, 2017 at 10.43 am

Great write up! inspiring!

December 4, 2017 at 2.36 pm

Thanks Carlos, much appreciated. Probably not as inspiring as your ultramarathon story though!

Leanne Campbell
December 2, 2017 at 10.01 am

Love this blog, so honest and thought provoking. As part of your xero team we have already seen the positive impact of your experience at outward bound. So you are definitely putting everything into practice. Onward and upwards your star is shining bright!

December 4, 2017 at 2.37 pm

Hi Leanne – thanks for reading and for the opportunity to complete this course! Definitely hope the experience is showing through at work! Definitely holding myself accountable to the goals I set. Onwards and upwards indeed 🙂

Dan Harrop
December 11, 2017 at 10.34 am

Well done Mallika. Really interesting and inspiring read. Great kick off to a great Xero initiative.

December 15, 2017 at 10.45 am

Thanks for sharing Mallika. So great to read about your experiences – it looks amazing!

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