The Charlotte Experience: Do Not Disturb!

Initially, I was going to title my post something along the lines of “Breaking out of Charlotte”, but truth be told; I’m not sure that I want to! Though being stranded in North Carolina certainly wasn’t on top of my “goals list” for this trip, it has surprised me just how quickly this city has grown on me. Other than the fact that we are supposed to be in Dublin right now this leg of the trip has been overwhelmingly positive. Charlotte wasn’t on my radar as a potential job market after graduation, but it is now!

Yesterday, 17 of us hopped in to a caravan of Ubers and Lyfts and headed out to a local mall, Carolina Place, to try our hands escaping the diabolical escape rooms run by Breakout Games. We were separated in to three randomly assigned teams and again randomly assigned a room to escape from. John, Josh, Abby, Michelle, and I were assigned to the ‘Do Not Disturb’ room. The premise being “A recent string of kidnappings has awakened old fears in the people of Breakout City. You’ve tracked the Kidnapper to a run-down motel on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately, he was expecting you, and now you’re caught in his twisted web of games. This investigation-gone-wrong will send your mind spinning as you try to save his next victims… Or become one yourself.”, as stated on the website. This puzzle was incredibly difficult to solve, but ultimately we came through in the clutch (1 min. 20 sec. on the clock) and we were the only team to take home a “W” for the night. It truly was a team collaboration and I’d like to highlight some of my own personal strengths that came in to play during this experience as well as some of my teammates and how we complemented each other.

According to Gallup’s Strength Finder Assessment test my top 5 Signature Strengths are: 1. Strategic 2. Deliberative 3. Analytical 4. Competition 5. Input. Clearly I’m made to play these types of games, with the bulk of my strengths dealing with recognizing patterns, processing information, and trying to think at least three steps ahead. Since I have a tendency to make mental notes of everything that’s likely to be important and my mind is constantly trying to connect the dots a few times I was immediately able to figure out what our next step was when some one else discovered a clue. Another time I was able to quickly identity an error we had made while cracking a code to get us back on track. I’d like to say that I singlehandedly solve all the puzzles and I rescued my team from certain failure, but that would clearly be a bold faced lie! My strengths can also become my weakness, for example; towards the end of the challenge we were trying to crack a Morse Code combination, while we were looking for the code an audio clue pumped over the PA and I became convinced the answer lied hidden on a map in the corner of the room, and my blinders went on. Luckily, my teammates decided it was time to ask for a hint from the game master, and I despite my default position of stubbornness, agreed to ask for help.

In most situations, I’m most suited to doing my own thing or with leading, but with this particular group I don’t feel as if either of those situations occurred. I honestly don’t feel as though a clear leader emerged during our escape, it seemed as if though we each worked independently from each other for a few minutes and then seamlessly blend back together to accomplish a task, rinse, wash, repeat. Last year in my Organization Behavior class we touched on a 5 stage concept of team development; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, Adjourning. The reason I believe we were able to succeed, where the others failed, has to due with the fact that we breezed right though the Storming phase. The Storming phase being where conflict occurs as people figure out where they fit with in the group dynamic and expectations are defined. Common traits shared by my teammates were Discipline, Harmony, and Restorative (being comfortable with problems). I believe these shared traits allowed the other to immediately slip into a work flow, one that was comfortable to me, which allowed me to follow suit. There was no jockeying for position or power, we just wanted to accomplish that task at hand, and we did near flawlessly!

Ultimately this was a great team building experience, and I learned a lot about my teammates and I know now if **it hits the fan, I can trust these guys to get the job done!

Final thought: Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

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