Friday, March 1, 2013

What I learnt at paintball

I’ve recently completed an eventful and interesting year of holy matrimony with a certain Mrs. Himani Baid Dwivedi on the 26th of February.

Please leave your best wishes in the comments section.


Entitled to my opinion alert!

Many people asked what our plans were for the “special day”. I cringe when people say that. What’s so special about a tiresome-physical and financial- day where we wasted shit loads of money to feed and entertain a horde of 500 people, 90 % of whom I’ve never met after? We’d committed our lives and had promised to assist each other grow, and all it required was a much quicker, much cheaper, pinky swear. The whole shebang was for the family, not us.
The great thing about soul mates is that they think alike; and both of us didn’t want the day, or actually the weekend to be about us. The nature lover in her and the adventure junkie in me decided on a trip to lonavala. Well, it was my surprise to her actually, and I suck at surprises with my impatient mind and all. After warning all my friends of keeping this under wraps, I prematurely told her about my plan for the weekend. It involved a trip with all my besties and their wives, one big, beautiful family.
She was happy, and while she would’ve enjoyed my sole company, I decided to invite my best mates, knowing full well they needed a break from their wanton, mundane lives.
Some people celebrate their first marriage anniversaries with a candle lit dinner; some take a cruise to an exotic island to relax. Himani on the other hand, knowing my need for thrill, decided to head to an Adventure Park; her surprise to me!

Lonavala and Della!

The Della Adventure Park is a sprawling place owned by a certain Jimmy Mistry, and you’ve got to hand it to this guy. The humongous 32 acres of property boasts of 86 activities, right from Dirt biking ( 60 BHP!), All Terrain Vehicle ( 700 CC!), flying fox, Zorbing, Archery, Net Cricket, Paintballing, etc. I’ve listed only a few of the ones we enjoyed, and I’d highly recommend flying fox to everyone! Gliding on a wire rope at about 75 feet in the air is awesome!

Coming to my point!

However, the main focus of this article is on the game of paintball. I’ve attended and chaffed at HR initiatives for team building via such team sports, and I admit my approach to look at it was wrong. The game of paintball with my friends showed me and them in true light, as I believe warfare brings out the real you.
It made me observe a facet of my personality which only high pressure situations could bring out. I learnt a lot about myself and my friends after that game, and here, I share my observations.

How the teams matched

·        Our team had two girls and three boys. We had a disadvantage of one extra girl in the opposite team, but I looked at it as an advantage! Being a pushy boy, I had one more soft-girl target!
·        My brother and I-opposing team captains- decided not to wear protective clothing, call it male ego, or the desire to seek more excitement and risk.
·        My wife was obviously in the opposite team. I said obviously as my brother and she probably get along more than we do!
·        The opposite team had the more athletic, more experienced, and more nimble players, and that’s plain true.

Let the games begin!

I’ll point out my observations of the behaviors and personalities of people in the melee without naming them as I love my solid bones a lot, thank you. Heck, I won’t even name teams.

Random Guy no.1- Showed a defensive mindset, but someone who likes to make own rules. An out of the box thinker who analyses the territory and competition, finds the safest place in the park and settled down there.
Random Guy no.2- Was mostly confused, and had given up before the game started. He was perplexed to decide on trying to win or trying to enjoy the game. Getting frustrated easily, he even hit the referee with a paint shot, not to forget his team mate when he felt he couldn’t salvage a losing cause.
Random Guy No. 3- The most athletic, he was all adrenalin. His desire to win made him forget that it’s a team game, and he would often jump to retrieve the flag without shouting for any cover fire. He wanted to do it all by himself; retrieve the flag, shoot everyone, cover everyone. He ended up with not being able to gain a point for his team, and was among the first whose paint pellets got over, thus ending his game.
Random guy no. 4- The only one with experience on his side, he enjoyed talking trash and indulging in gamesmanship prior to the game. He was, by far, the most balanced individual who wanted to win, but also remember to have fun along with it.  Knowing this person, it was delightful to see him maintain composure during pressure times.
Random girl No. 1- The trash talker amongst women, she was fiercely competitive, and was reasonably receptive to strategy, up till it had her in a role she was excited doing. Just the kind of person you’d need to helm a challenging, exciting new project. Quick to adapt, and not one to give an inch, she too could switch off and on by putting on her game face/fun face with ease. Having a mind of her own, she was the last woman standing and that is testament to her survival skills. Her calculative nature was clear for everyone to see with her being the only person in our team left with pellets, and a lot of them. She was picking and choosing her hits, and hit where they counted.
Random girl No. 2- Quite clearly the least combative, she was clearly out there to have fun. Whilst every individual wants to win, for her, it was not as important as having fun. Having been hit twice on the face mask with pellets, she had no qualms in running off to change her gear in the midst of a tussle-leaving her team one player short. While some may call it being selfish, knowing her, I knew it was because she wanted to have fun, make most of the moment and give her best to the team.
Random Girl No.3- The sprightliest of the women, she was agile enough to duck and dodge two headshots. Such reflexes need clarity of mind, something to look out for in people.
Random Girl No- 3. She was not meant to stand in the line of fire, and she displayed it amply by not moving from her spot lest a pellet would hit her! She’d do best in ancillary or supportive roles, and that’s no shame, we need doctors in the army too, right?
Random Girl no.4- The perfect team mate, she’d follow the instructions and the strategy to a T! Whatever was expected of her, she would dig deep and deliver without leaving any chance of complaints.

What I learned about myself- The good

Above all my observations, understanding my own personality was truly enlightening. The good and the not so good are my opinions, and are open to debate in the thread.
I am fiercely competitive, and don't like losing. I am what some people may term a natural leader, and people do look to me for centralized leadership.
 I am also good at strategizing, encouraging, motivating, making each member see their importance, identify each person's core competencies and get the team to gel together.
Surprisingly, before this incident, I had my doubts if I could put my team before myself, and be a good man manager. Thankfully, these aspersions were laid to rest, and in such a fun manner!

That I learnt about myself- The not so good

I don’t mind gloating about being the winner after the game is over either.
I don’t give or expect mercy while in the game. Not much at least.
Winning is more important to me than enjoying; ergo, I enjoy winning more than participating.
I don’t mind bending the rules to win a game. I asked a team mate to finish off her pellets so that we’d end up in the winning side even when we had a 4-0 cushion. It was this girl’s childlike enthusiasm and drive to establish herself and over-perform that made me see my folly. Sometimes, you just need to have fun.

We won! And here’s why

Both the teams were new, and both strategized. I can bet that both strategies weren’t dissimilar. We won because we encouraged each other, and we implemented the strategy well. A winning strategy may not be the best one, but eventually, the implementation matters, right?

They lost! And here’s why

They had the better players. But they were too self-focused to be able to perform as a team. Their strategy implementation was nowhere to be seen, laying them bare for easy pickings.

What I’ve learnt

Situational leadership is important.
Every team member is important. To get the best out of everyone, show them how important their job is, and they will over-deliver.
At all costs, remember to have fun. (Not applicable for real war!)
Understand your goal, and support any positive development towards it unflinchingly.
Support your team mates, and help them in excelling in their core competencies. Some are quick, help them in being quicker. The slower ones will pick up things the quicker one couldn’t see.
Every individual is gifted with their unique talents; to recognize them and leverage them is the mark of a true leader.
To be a leader, you have to be humble, and selfless. You must be ready to take the extra hits, and the flak.
Sometimes, bending the rules ain’t that bad. As said in the Bhagawad Geeta, do all you can to ensure you’re fulfilling your duty, and if it’s your duty to slay your relatives, so be it. ( Don’t take this literally and actually kill your in-laws. I’m won’t be responsible for that! Also, this is a loose translation of what the Geeta says, and what my puny mind understand, so..)
Bouquets and brickbats will be highly appreciated! Please comment below.

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