Two things I really enjoy: critical thinking and unique experiences. Generally when I find opportunities that include both, the conversation goes something like this:
Me: Do you want to do something really unique?
My fiancée: Oh gosh… what is it?
Me: I need you to agree first. It is a critical thinking exercise, but it’s unique
My fiancée (already annoyed): Fine.. what did I just agree to
Me: Ok, now hear me out. We’re going to join a group of 10 other strangers, get locked in a room for an hour where the only way to get out is by figuring out the puzzles… oh… and there is a zombie in the room.. and if you don’t get out in time, then you “get eaten.”
My fiancée: (stunned silence.. not the good kind)
Little did she know, I already bought the tickets.
So there we were, in a large, plain room with no air conditioning within a dark industry park with 10 strangers. All of us were excited and nervous. Was this going to be corny or awesome? Was the zombie going to be scary? Were we smart enough to get out of the room? And most importantly, was my fiancée going to kill me for dragging her to this if it wasn’t fun?
After a brief introduction from the person running the event, we entered a smaller room and the timer started. We had one hour. The zombie is chained to a wall, but the chain loosens every five minutes. If the zombie touches you, you’re “eaten.” Within 30 minutes, the zombie could reach every corner of the room and the only “safe zone” was a table you could sit on in the middle of the room. Ever seen 12 people try to sit on one table? It doesn’t work.
About 25% of the teams that participate make it out of the room before time expires. We were not one of those teams. With that said, both of us had a blast! The clues and puzzles were tough, the zombie was extremely frightening (there were many shrieks during the hour as the zombie ran towards you.. the actress was fantastic), and our team worked really well together.
What “being eaten” taught me
When I told my friends I was participating in this event, most were skeptical and asked why I would want to do it. The why is simple: Not only do I like to be challenged, but putting myself in unique experiences is one of the best ways to learn more about myself.
Reflecting on “Trapped in a room with a Zombie,” this is what I learned:
- I handle stressful situations extremely well: The hour locked in that room is extremely stressful. Some people panicked, some struggled to solve easy puzzles, and others screamed. Between the zombie and the clock, I was able to compartmentalize and get the tasks at hand done, tune out the screaming (and the zombie trying to eat me), and work with the team.
- I enjoy multi-tasking: There are a lot of different tasks the team must perform at once. While I focused on my task, I found myself wanting to help others and move from group to group helping however I could. Each task was different and it kept me from getting frustrated with individual puzzles by being able to move around.
- I like being able to see the “big picture”: One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how the clues work together to figure out how to unlock the door. While I was working on my individual task, I wanted to know how the other clues were being solved and how they were working together. This helped the team at certain points, but other times contributed to the team’s confusion.
- When it comes to communicating and working as a team, I still have a lot to learn: To be able to work as a team, communications is critical. We wasted a lot of time repeating information we missed due to stress, focusing on a specific task, or a zombie trying to eat us. When the time ran out, we were on the final puzzle and had the wrong combination due to a miscommunication which I was a part of. Nobody in our group took on the role of being the coordinator and leader to make sure all the information was gathered and shared correctly. I wonder how we would have done if someone had stepped into that role or realized how important that role would be.
Better getting to know myself
Nothing has taught me more about myself than unique experiences where I am challenged, vulnerable, and outside my comfort zone. My style of self-exploration isn’t for everyone, but I recommend everyone continue to find ways to understand how they function in different situations.
Some of the most successful people I have studied knew their strengths and weaknesses. They were able to put themselves in position to succeed in their career and life by strengthening their weaknesses and/or maximizing their strengths. I hope to be in that position one day, and the more data I gather on myself, the better chance I have of increasing my success.
Especially if a zombie apocalypse happens. I have the confidence to know I can handle it…unless the door is locked.
Kevin Richman is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.