This post was written by current second-year student, Todd Cobb. Todd is participating in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Leadership Immersion for the final seven weeks of his MBA career and wrote this upon returning from Outward Bound; a staple in the Leadership Immersion every year.
Outward Bound was an amazing and challenging way to start my last Mod of business school at UNC Kenan-Flagler. After spending two years with PowerPoints, spreadsheets, networking events, and case studies, the sense of mental clarity and personal awareness I found spending a week with my peers without those daily distractions in nature was powerful. I got to test my own limits mentally, physically, and emotionally, but best of all, I developed a deep bond of trust with my teammates.
Our week consisted of five days of camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. We spent the first two days hiking, the third day rock climbing, the fourth doing a high ropes course, and the fifth doing a big team event with everybody in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Leadership Immersion. In the first two days, we could really see the difference in our behavior towards one another. As MBA’s, we constantly have to multitask between many different obligations. The simplicity of camping in nature really gave us the chance to learn about each other in a way that isn’t possible in the classroom. I really began to understand how my peers, whether they were from Russia, Japan, New England, or right here in North Carolina, view themselves as people and leaders.
We also got to step out of our comfort zone many times. Our trip this year was unusually cold, so in addition to the normal challenges of Outward Bound, we had to contend with the weather as well. Learning how to motivate ourselves and our teammates became integral to successfully completing the different challenges of the Leadership Immersion at Outward Bound. In many ways, this felt like a potent metaphor for the challenges we’ll face as business leaders. Success isn’t just measured by accomplishments, but by the morale and gratitude of the people that succeeded with you.
On the lighter side, we had a tremendous amount of fun creating games and nicknames for ourselves. Several of us had taken an improv class and quickly figured out some memorable games involving Samurais, team cheers, and a lot of imagination. We also discovered some us had real culinary talent with just a gas stove and dried grains. Others of us realized we didn’t – mixing M&M’s and hot oatmeal is not as tasty as one might think.
The trip was an excellent way to start the Leadership Immersion and really transition from being a student into an emerging leader. While I still feel part of the UNC Kenan-Flagler community and my fellow MBA’s, I have a much stronger sense of vision for where I aim to be after business school. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Leadership Immersion has to offer!