Blue Mountains and Absailing

21 Jul

Day 2, or day 3 if you are playing the home version, came with the leadership group Fullon out of New Zealand.

The three sisters in the Blue Mountains of Australia

We took a two hour drive up into the Blue Mountains of Australia.  Weather, perfect. Slightly cloudy, but warm, and fog in the valley’s which created some wonderful views of the mountain range and the scenery below.

We did a quick stop to see the three sisters.  The story goes that two tribes were fighting. To bring peace, the father of one tribe wanted his sons to marry the daughters of the other tribe.  This accord did not come to fruition and so the groups went to war.  To protect the daughters, a medicine man turned the daughters to stone.  Unfortunately, the medicine man was killed, and being the only one who could turn the sisters back, the sisters have remained in their current form for eternity.

At this point, I cannot say enough good things about Fullon, a highly interactive and well put together program.  We were fortunate enough to have Paul, founder of Fullon, lead our group of intrepid high school students.  We were also endowed with a couple of young leaders with a few years of experience with Fullon, Susan and Sandy, all from New Zealand.  Fullon runs programs in several countries: New Zealand, Australia, Italy, England, Scotland and many other parts of Europe.  Needless to say, if you are traveling abroad with a group, they are worth the call.

We started with some team building, some re-training of the brain, talking about the 70,000 decisions we make on an average day.  We talked about the types of decisions we make, and how we can control the types of decisions we make.  This led up to a board breaking exercise to get the kids to accomplish a task that many of them felt they would not be able to do. We worked on getting the group to support the student who is breaking the board rather than getting wrapped up on our own causes.  Finally, the kids got to write on their board how it felt to be successful and share their personal thoughts.  A great souvenir for the kids to take as a symbol of their success.

I'm ready, now where did I put that rope?

Next, ab-sailing (or repelling) down a 200 foot cliff.  Any time you dangle your weight over a cliff with a harness and a piece of rope as your only line to safety, that is scary.  So, 45 nervous students and adult leaders reared their dairyaires over the precipice and descended into emptiness.  I say emptiness as only the first 10 feet were available for us to use our feet, the last 190 were free falling, much like sliding down a fireman’s pole.  Now, keep in mind we did a practice run and there was a lot of training prior to our descent, it’s not like we were thrown over the cliff.  However, in spite of the training, anxiety was high, and getting kids to take that first step over the cliff took a bit of time.  The instructors were eager to explain the safety precautions, get to know the climbers, and build up rapport before letting the kids take the risky plunge.

Next up, as our groups were split in half, was the mystery maze.  Many of us leadership folks have done this before, an exercise in communication, where we are give a maze to travel through, the facilitator knows the way, the group must figure it out.  What I thought was interesting, in the debrief, was the focus on our hesitation, the ability to wait for input rather than to take action.  There were many reasons for hesitation – and hopefully the point got across – that as a leader we need to take action.  Even though everyone will have an opinion on what we should or should not do, in the end, we are the ones who have to make the choice.  The question is, can we make the right choice with everyone around us ready to judge and make comments?

After a wrap up – I’ll share more later – we had a good dinner, had a chance to buy souvenirs (including a picture of us dangling into nothingness) and we hopped on the bus for a two hour ride back to Sydney.  As I sit here in this dark bus typing up my thoughts I can’t help but notice the buzz between the students in the back of the bus.  It’s obvious they had fun, built some good relationships, and enjoyed the day.  As a person who does leadership training on a regular basis, they did a fantastic job – and judging by their desire at feedback – they are looking to improve. As stated by Paul, “Success is created by your desire to improve, explore and continue to seek ways to make yourself better.” As the kids learned, you can stand and stare at the cliff in front of you, or you can choose to conquer your fear and leap off to the adventure that awaits.

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One Response to “Blue Mountains and Absailing”

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  1. Creation vs. Consumption « Leadership isn’t funny – but oh so Fun! - March 12, 2012

    […] past summer, I went to Australia for nearly three weeks with just my iPad. Using my USB adapter, I uploaded pictures to my iPad […]

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