6 Team-building lessons from an adventure racer

Commitment Commitment

"Commitment starts when the fun stops," Robyn Benincasa told HR/benefits professionals at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans conference. Pictured here at the boat's bow, she offers 4 P's to understanding team commitment:

  • • Planning: Don’t forget the checkpoints

  • • Purpose: Inspire through a greater good

  • • Perseverance: Never let emotion affect locomotion

  • • Preparation: Luck is a result of opportunity and preparation

Hope of success vs. fear of failure Hope of success vs. fear of failure

Great teams aim to succeed, versus trying to simply not lose, says Benincasa. She adds that leaders and star teammates create their own future rather than wait for it.

Adapt and overcome Adapt and overcome

By viewing unexpected business barriers as challenges as opposed to roadblocks, teams can create new momentum through innovation. Benincasa stresses that innovators should never let the pursuit of perfection hinder progress.

Need-based leadership Need-based leadership

Benincasa advocates changing leaders based on strengths for each project, rather than deferring to titles. Learn more about six common leadership styles from author Daniel Goleman and how each effects the emotions and work output of the employees here.

Guts Guts

It takes guts—in the office and on the trail—to readjust your path when unexpected change alters your course. When the female member of the Japanese Eco-Challenge Team tore an ankle tendon, her teammates carried her for two days across the mountains of Borneo and to the finish line. Benincasa offers this helpful acronym when you need to regroup or reassess your progress:

Go the distance, quietly persevering

Unwavering in patience and faith

Taking calculated risks

Shattering the norm

Embrace change Embrace change

Due to a teammate’s injury during the Eco-Challenge, a French team recruited a Borneo native, who had never repelled in caves, kayaked or biked in his life, to complete the race with them. Because of the Borneo farmer’s courage and perseverance, the team finished in 2nd place.

Two-time Adventure Racing World Champion and two-time Guinness World Record distance kayaker Robyn Benincasa knows what it takes for a team to succeed. During the Borneo Eco-Challenge, Benincasa and her three teammates ran, paddled, mountain biked, climbed and whitewater-rafted over 300 miles in the rugged, leech-infested terrain. Since all teammates must complete the race to qualify, the harsh experience tests teamwork to the extreme.

Benincasa, a full-time firefighter and the director of fun for World Class Teams, applies the team-building lessons she learned in the wilderness to the corporate jungle.
[Photos courtesy of Robyn Benincasa]

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