Setting Sail for an unconventional learning adventure

When you picture a learning environment, what springs to mind? A boardroom? A conference? Dare we say it… a webinar? We all need an unconventional learning adventure.

In our experience, the best learning environments are the ones that take you out your comfort zone. The ones that challenge you. The ones that are memorable and exciting.

So naturally, when Clipper Events let us facilitate a client training day aboard two of their Clipper 68 ocean racing yachts, we couldn’t wait to set sail. On a boat, you need to be three things: a follower, a team player, and a leader. Each one is crucial for sailing and for high performance leadership.

On the day of our training, there was a lot of anxiety from our learners. And who could blame them? No one had been sailing before and it was totally out of their comfort zones; a big tick for us, as that’s when the magic happens!

There was blood, sweat and tears. Well not quite blood, but definitely sweat. And possibly some tears in the toilet. But overall, watching our client’s team members play to each other’s strengths, learn more about each other and discover their own hidden skills was so rewarding.

Check out some of the windswept footage here, and read on to understand more about why this type of team building is effective.

Build trust within your team

Let’s be honest, when it comes to putting teams together, you’ll never start off as a well-oiled machine. It takes time for people to get to know each other and form relationships with one another.

Trust is the foundation of a high performing team. When colleagues’ relationships are founded on cooperation, trust and fairness, it activates the reward centre of the brain. This encourages future interactions that promote employee trust, respect and confidence, translating as improved communication, moral and engagement.

Team-building activities that push your employees outside of their comfort zone leave them vulnerable, and this exposed vulnerability promotes trust. But don’t confuse vulnerability with being scared! It’s simply showing ‘you’ without a wall up. This is such a leveller and leads to team members feeling more comfortable taking risks and pushing themselves, which can continue once they’re back in the office.

Find new learning opportunities

Outdoor training days like these help people explore their hidden strengths and we encourage teams to come to the table prepared to listen and learn. Taking your team out of their comfort zone means that everyone starts from the same place, and they all have to learn together.

Being outdoors has the added benefit of being good for our minds and bodies. Sunlight stimulates serotonin secretion and movement can elevate our mood. Physical exercise is known to release endorphins, helping to relieve discomfort and boost our mood. Being exposed to nature and outdoor settings, for as little as ten minutes, can help people feel happier and less stressed.

“Spending time outdoors is a full sensory experience, which anchors us in the present moment and helps us to feel connected, grounded and a part of something much bigger than ourselves”.
Lee Chambers
Environmental Psychologist

Learning in an unconventional environment removes the mundane, stuffy old office feeling. Setting sail on the high seas gave our client and their team the chance to have a bit of fun with each other all whilst still working together to achieve a shared goal (not having to re-enact Tom Hanks’ Castaway).

Encourage communication

Team building activities give employees the opportunity to learn more about each other, which they might not be able to do in a work environment – especially if they don’t usually work directly with each other. This can make huge waves in workplace communication, breaking down barriers between teams and hierarchy.

The shared experiences and sense of accomplishment for those taking part in team building activities will make them feel good about themselves and more comfortable with one another and their ability. This improved morale leads to improved communication, engagement and increased productivity.

At West Peak, we create a safe yet challenging learning environment for emerging leaders all the way up to the C-suite, optimised for rapid, fun, and engrained learning. Find out more about our Clipper Events training day here.

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