This continues my series on my first adventure race, and lessons you can apply to strategically manage your career.
Here’s a recap - Lesson 1: Have a goal, agreed by the team
Lesson 2: Have a plan on how you’ll meet the goal, and adjust when needed.
Lesson 3: Help others along the way
Adventure racing, and careers, have a combination of competition and cooperation built in. Even though it’s a competitive sport, racers are encouraged to help each other out, and in fact would be penalized for not helping a team in distress, or they may get time credit for helping another team.
Lessons from the race:
Pay it forward. During the first checkpoint on the canoes, we passed a team who had completed that checkpoint. “Keep going, it’s just around the bend”, they said. And it was. We shouted similar help to other teams on our way back. Crossing paths with other teams in the woods, we’d mutually ask if they’d found the one we’re looking for, and quickly share direction on how to get there. The more we helped others, the more they helped us.
Trust in your teammates and yourself
Know when to rely on others and when to rely on yourself. Realize that some people will be helpful to you, others will be derailers. At points throughout the race we’d go off-track based on what other teams were doing. We quickly learned that relying on our own skills put us in the right direction more often than not. It was fascinating after the race to think back to the times where we’d deviate from our approach to search for a checkpoint based on a bunch of other teams being there. You couldn’t help but think, “hey, there are a lot of bikes here, we must be close to the checkpoint”. When in reality, we were only close to a bunch of people who were off track. At one point, we even had a clear compass bearing straight across a field, yet we still went off track after following a clear path that was worn in a different direction. After doing this a couple of times, we learned to trust our own judgement and our own skill, and use the input of others as simply one data point, and we did a lot better.
Lessons for your career:
Paying it forward means that you help others when you can, regardless of whether it helps you. It’s a similar concept to karma – do good things and good things will come back to you.
Trust yourself. There’s a great book on disaster preparedness called “The Unthinkable” by Amanda Ripley, which points out that people don’t always make the best decisions even in the face of clear evidence that they should do something. The main lesson? Trust your instincts and take action.
What do you think? How do other people impact your choices? And how does competition versus cooperation affect your actions?