“Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” said Albert Einstein. The faculty at ESMT seem to have taken inspiration, as we found out on our way to Schloss Boitzenburg for our two day outdoor leadership workshop. The hour and half journey northwards from Berlin has a calming effect on you as the hustle of the city takes a backseat and the greenery of Boitzenburg land comes in view. Every individual of the diverse MBA Class of 2014 was looking forward to the experience, and this excitement added a sense of inclusion and team spirit within the community even before we got started. Snow has a beautiful character to it; the softer it falls, the deeper it sinks. As we alighted the bus at the entrance of the castle, nature greeted us with soft white chunks of snowy advice, as if to remind us of the purpose of the workshop – to explore oneself and learn to team effectively.
We were split into multiple teams and the endgame was to find our way from the castle through the forest to the destination using only maps, compass and of course common sense. The four hour hiking trip into the wilderness on the first day had its similarities to an entertaining Bollywood movie. The script opened with a twist, when we were asked to exchange the maps we created with another team. It was a test of trust and confidence as we let go of our prime asset (this being the hand-drawn map) in exchange for another one created by our colleagues. It was a harsh reminder of the uncertain nature of today’s business and the need to place mutual trust & respect in our colleagues to manage crises. My team started well, or so we thought until we reached a point in the open field which diverged into three paths. Our guide Andreas Bernhardt’s timely advice (the guide’s role was to only monitor and speak if we drifted way too much from the intended route) and our navigators led us on the right route. Listen to experience, and trust in your colleague who is better equipped to make decisions at a given point in time are two key pieces of advice I drew from this event. It was getting dark, it started raining, and most importantly the wilderness was having its effect on us. We had each other’s back, motivated ourselves through the cold rain & snow and managed to reach the destination without compromising on any of the goals we had set ourselves before we started the trek. We, as a team, had told each other that we will enjoy the trek, ensure each other’s safety and finish as a team. As I said, like in a Bollywood movie, it was indeed a happy ending.
I could go on writing pages about the trek, the dinner at the castle, the events of the second day when we climbed trees, walked on ropes, built tents and much more. I will let you find it out by yourself, all it takes is to get admitted into the ESMT MBA Program.