Thursday, July 25, 2013

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Today I woke up and realized that it was the day that I had to go complete the low ropes course. There were rumors swirling around campus that the low ropes course involved going through obstacle courses and I was really worried about if I would be able to keep up with all of the people in the Leadership Institute. I was also worried about the ticks that infested the grounds that we would be completing the low ropes course on. I decided that I had to believe that I was capable of doing anything that I tried my best in. I knew that I was going to try and change my leadership style and learn how to encourage my teammates instead of giving them commands.

These socks make a  new fashion statement
I had to wear pants, closed toe shoes, and a t-shirt to make sure that I was protected from the ticks. All of the facilitators urged us to be extremely cautious of our surroundings and even gave us an extra pair of socks to put on top of our pants. I jokingly stated that we all looked like Urkel, from the television show Family Matters. I really started to get scared, because I wanted to know what type of a place we were going that required me to have this type of protection.  I decided to trust that my leader fellows would never put me in any true danger. As we drove to the forest I saw beautiful trees that looked like they could reach all the way up into space. I also saw a beautiful ocean view, but the picturesque scenery was quickly overshadowed by the rain that was increasingly starting to pour down on the car windows. I realized that I had forgotten to bring my jacket which I inferred would pose a gigantic problem for the duration of the trip. 
Walking to Our Next Activity

As all of the Leadership Institute members and I got out of the coach bus I looked around and saw what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. I am a city girl and I was not used to being around this much nature at once. I became increasingly worried about the insects or animals that might be lurking within the depths of the forest. The first thing that we did when we got off the bus was walk to an open area to congregate and break off into our separate class groups. I ended up joining Heidi and Kissa’s group, a woman who would have been might professor last year, which made me excited due to the fact that Heidi id energetic and fun to be around. One of the first things that my group did was gather around in a circle and introduce ourselves and include one fun fact. I said, “My name is Alicia and I have a bird named Peach which is correlated to the color of her beak.

The first activity my group and I did was a pipe exercise which involved communicating with the members of your group to transfer the ball in one pipe to another and so on and so forth. The objective of the exercise was to put the ball in the bucket that was placed quite a distance from our starting point. The rules of the game were that you could not touch the ball and the pipes had to be interchanged between all members of the team. I took the initiative to begin the system and grabbed a pipe, but got upset when my group didn’t follow my instructions and went off on a tangent. I started to see how my leadership style could be interpreted as bossy or abrasive and quickly decided to change my strategy. I tried to encourage my group to communicate and slow down and we eventually made it to the end of the course and the ball landed safely into the bucket. I think that when I get back to California I am going to try to be nicer to the people in my group, because you get more bees with honey than vinegar. I never want to make people feel like their opinions don’t matter as much compared to mine and I wanted to try harder to incorporate everyone’s ideas into the next group activity. However, the next activity that we executed did not deem critically thinking or incorporating numerous opinions significant. The activity was called Trust Falling which entailed trusting your partner enough to fall back into their arms with complete confidence in their ability to catch you. The other alternative was falling extremely hard on the ground into muddy wet grass. I think that you can infer how important trust was in this activity and my partner happened to be really tall, but skinny. I am just going to sum it up to the fact that I did not completely trust her and assumed that she would be really weak. I closed my eyes and informed her when I was going to lean back so that there could be no room for denial when I plummeted to my death. Of course I am highly exaggerating the risk factor of this exercise, but there was still an insane amount of a potential injury. I leaned back and put all of my faith into Vera’s ability and surprising she caught me. I felt embarrassed that I had pre- judged her based upon her appearance which made me realize that people can be stronger than they appear both mentally and physically.

After the Trust Falling exercise my group and I hiked over to an enclosed area of land to find out what our next activity would be. When I walked up to the next area I saw a rope hanging from a tree with a platform placed approximately two feet from the rope. Kissa and Heidi explained to us that the objective of the game was to get all of your teammates to the platform by swinging via.
Listening to the Rope Activity Instructions
The challenging part was trying to make enough from for everyone to fit on the platform that was about the size of a small window. My team and I managed to conduct a strategy to grab the rope and transfer all of us to the platform in a small amount of time. I noticed that this time I took a step back and allowed someone else to lead the group. A part of being a good leader is to understand when to vocalize their opinions and when to accept as well as improve the ideas of your teammates. I think that I learned how to have an equal balance between being straightforward and tolerant of different points of view.

The objective of the last exercise was that my teammates and I had to balance on a board without tipping over and we had to shift our weight in different positions to stabilize the board. I realized that I became increasingly frustrated when everyone in my group started speaking simultaneously. I think that we would have gotten the task done a lot faster and would not have had to do as many trial and errors if we would have selected one leader. The original plan was to have Vivian decide who should stand on what side of the board to make sure that the board was balanced, but our plan did not pan out as well as it should have. Some of the girls developed attitudes and became passive which did not help the situation that we were in. At the end of the day we sat down and discussed what we could have done better and what we did well. I will be the first to say that sadly the bad outweighed the good. However, I think that we should all be proud of ourselves for having a good time for the most part and completing all of the exercises despite the obstacles we faced. Today I learned how to be an effective and fair leader which is a skill that I will need for the rest of my life. 
Beautiful View
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