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When being under pressure is fun (and useful)

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It seems that my close friends and family really do know me well when it comes to buying gifts.  I wrote last year about my amazing experience with ‘A Murder to Die For’, and this year my friends came up trumps with a surprise visit to Sherlock, the Game is Now.

You may or may not know that I’ve recently developed a ‘Sleuth Room’, which is my personal take on the classic escape room with a full murder mystery story running through it.  Therefore, the anticipation of challenging ourselves against Moriarty in a similar but oh so much more involved activity was incredible.

Because of course, it was ‘us’ rather than ‘me’.  It’s not a solitary activity, and whether you are participating for fun or as part of a team building exercise, this type of event can be invaluable in learning about (or in our case, reaffirming) your relationship with your fellow team members.

Without giving too much away (arrival and ‘signing in’ to the event is as much a part of the experience as the actual activity), you can picture the scene; our team (consisting of me, my partner and my two best friends) are thrust into a room containing a glass coffin full of dry ice.  Our first task is to get rid of the ice so that we can see the body underneath; peppered with clues to discover his or her identity.  From the moment we entered the first room until we burst out into daylight having negotiated a series of frenzied physical tasks in a high octane pressured finale, we never stopped communicating, processing information, collaborating and driving with a common purpose whilst having an enormous amount of fun.

I loved it!  And if I feel like this, then I know now more than ever that it’s my job to help others feel the same way.  Working in a team with the 3 people (other than family) who know me the best in the world does help of course, and one would like to think that we would form a successful and efficient team.   Do you necessarily want your team to be as close as a group of friends who’ve know each other for 25 years and have 6 children between them?  Possibly not, but perhaps I can think of no better aspirational target.

The pressure during this particular activity was immense, perhaps the main focus, and due to our various lines of work we knew that we would cope well.  Belbin ascertains that “Pressure can strip away politeness, aspirations, reserve and social codes, to show the real person beneath”.  During a particularly difficult physical challenge right at the end, my partner Mark admitted afterwards that he was ‘THIS close to giving up’ but of course he didn’t, and we became ‘agents’ of Mycroft in 50 minutes and 53 seconds of adrenaline filled adventure and laughter.

Amongst the highlights were the video appearances of Dr Watson, Mycroft and Moriarty, with Sherlock’s voice ever present, the absolutely perfect production and design, and our report at the end proclaiming us as ‘The Academics’, which noted that we ‘breezed through the hard and were ensnared by the simple’.  A fair assessment, we all agreed!

Best of all, I’ve beaten my twitter ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ record having been re-tweeted by the great Mark Gatiss himself.

Long live Mycroft!

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