A week ago, a good friend of mine organized a long overdue couple’s day/night out. We planned on trying something new:  a game in an Adventure Room.  For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, you a group of your most awesome friends must complete a task (e.g. getting out of a locked room, finding a specific object in the room) in under an hour by solving multiple puzzles and riddles.  There are few rules in place or directions given.  You simply have to get it done. None of the people I was with had participated in an adventure room challenge before so we were a little stressed.  Can we do this?  Is this even fun?  Why did I agree to this again?!

The objective of our adventure game was to find the “remedy” that would cure us of our pretend illness…stay with me….use your imagination.  You enter a room that has nothing much else in it but for locked boxes and cabinets and your first clue.  I don’t think I should describe the details much more specifically in the event that you want to check it out for yourself.  Here’s the website blurb for context:

You find yourself in a strange medical office. The truth is revealed.
There is no one to help you. The clock is ticking.
Will you find the remedy?

So there we were.  Eight of us nervously giggling, looking around and trying to figure out what the hell we were supposed to be doing.  We didn’t discuss strategy beforehand.  No one was appointed as the leader.   At times we partnered up.  Other times we worked independently.  We communicated our ideas and gave directions.  Perhaps some would describe this as winging it?  After an efficient half hour, we were able to finish all of the brain teasers and unlock the remedy.  Our “Gamemaster” (yes, that is REALLY what he is called), joined us in the room and let us know that not only had we successfully completed the game, but we had set a new record for fastest time.

After we gathered for a team photo, we informally debriefed.  We were all impressed by the degree to which we were able to work together without officially organizing or assigning roles.  There were many moments of spontaneous cooperation and no instances when our egos collided.  Of course, you might typically expect a friendly group of adults to get along, but I would argue that, unfortunately, you should lower your expectations.  I mean, look at Facebook.  All the disruptive and contentious energy put out in the universe every single minute of every single day by ADULTS.  Adults that you think you know and, often times, adults that you do know (and love) are guilty of spreading negativity.  All I’m saying is, put eight adults in a room and you shouldn’t be surprised if things go sideways with a quickness – rant over.  We instantly credited our diverse backgrounds, both professionally and personally, as the reason why we were able to work together so well.  What was overwhelmingly apparent to me and the rest of our crew was that because each of the puzzles called upon a particular skill or piece of information, we may not have completed the task at all, never mind set the record for time, if we were all alike.  The group was men and women.  Public and private sector employees.  An age range of roughly seven years.  A social worker, an actuary, a corrections officer, a surgeon, and a teacher.  A blend of cultures and family backgrounds.  The sum total of the life experiences and knowledge amounted to a proficient and capable team.

Yes, I’ve been privy to the pounding of corporate HR’s diversity and inclusion drum; however, as lessons often are, this one was solidified in the field.  To be clear, the purpose of this outing was neither for moral boosting, nor was it a team building occasion.  We were just parents of little kids who needed to get out of the house.  I think we walked away from the day with a story to tell, dearer friendships, and maybe most importantly, a new perspective on diversity.  I invite all of you – and challenge some of you – to open your minds, hearts, and heads to see and recognize that our individual strengths are, without a doubt, enhanced by our collective differences.