White Water Rafting: An Amazing Team Building Experience

The Focus team just had a jaw-dropping, mind-boggling and awe-inspiring (ok ok, i’ll cut short the superlatives here!) offsite camp at Rishikesh.

However, there is one experience which stood apart from the rest  –the renowned White-water Rafting experience of the vibrant Ganges in this part of the world. Gushing forth from the glaciers of Gangotri, the Ganges is very much in her glorious teenage years by the time she enters Rishikesh –she’s playful, she’s passionate and her colourful antics come alive in the roaring white water rapids that we encountered.

Be it the wily “Roller-Coaster”, the aptly named “Double trouble” or the “Golf-Course” (smooth one, did you say?), these rapids immersed us (literally!) in a breathtaking ride. Along the way, this adventure sport of White Water Rafting taught us several lessons of team-engagement.

  1. white water rafting cartoonNo free riders:
    Everyone rows –no exception! Imagine the morale of a team where everyone is working hard to keep the raft afloat and one or two members decide to just rest their oars and watch the scenery! Back at the workplace, it is no different. Every member has to contribute, no dead-weights can be permitted.
  2. In-Sync On-Time:
    All members have to row in a synchronized manner, their oars moving back n forth precisely in the same rhythm; otherwise the efforts go wasted as many oars will clash with each other instead of battling the waters outside and the raft can quite comically, spin around in circles – a powerful metaphor to depict how individual members acting in their own self-interest can subvert the team goal and not permit their team to actually go anywhere. In this context, we take the liberty of modifying an age-old cliché  “united we float, divided we drown”!
  3. Position your players correctly:
    Before we begin rowing, the instructor sizes up each individual and depending on his/her physical structure, decides the seating arrangement within the raft. This is extremely critical to ensure correct balance of the raft as well as its efficient maneuverability.  Similarly, without compromising the overall team objective, you want your best players to perform at their peak level and not downplay their strengths. This is where effective role-delegation comes into the picture to balance and yet accelerate the team’s performance.
  4. No lasting change possible without conflict:
    There are occasions when the raft is required to turn direction quickly, that will require one side of rowers to either stop rowing or row in opposite direction to the other side of raft. Without this seemingly direct conflict, no change of direction can happen.  How often do we encourage conflict (or atleast a tough dialogue) within the team while taking an important decision? If all members are aligned to the overall team goal, such a tough dialogue (while painful in the short term, since some people or functions will certainly get affected) will definitely bring about greater conviction in the engagement of this team with outside circumstances.
  5. Stay the Course:
    in other words, keep the faith. Whatever, be the outside distractions and turbulent situations (and the icy cold Ganges trying to dislodge you from that raft, ranks right up there!), a disciplined team will only become stronger and more determined to stay the course, as long as they keep the faith in the team goal and their leader.
  6. Realize “the Power of Now”:
    Eckhart Tolle must have had some experience of White Water Rafting to author the afore-mentioned book, for this sport unlike any other, forces every team member to live-in-the-moment, not dwell on any regrets of the past or anxieties of the future –just be present in the ‘present’ and live out that moment to its fullest. Needless to say, such a team will deliver peak-level performances at almost every occasion.
Read Also  The Road Ahead: Leadership Team Exercise

So the next time you consider an outdoor offsite, just go with the flow of White Water Rafting!

Are there lessons for your team from Rafting as well as other Adventure sports? Do share your thoughts. 

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