A recent New York Times article caught my eye, the associated picture was of a man suspended in the air in a cage type apparatus, it was dark, a search light shining and rain pouring down. I assumed it was some rescue endeavor or an international crisis I had missed. The title of the article though was something about employee training and morale. Huh?
Reading on, the article was about a company, Survival Systems USA, that since the late 90s has been teaching aquatic survival skills to groups like the NYPD, the FBI, and the DEA, but recently has decided to get in the game of corporate team building. This company who simulates airplanes crashes into the water, to train pilots how to respond in crisis, is now doing the same for groups of corporate employees.
The company began to realize over the years, through their training, that clients were emerging from the courses with more than just the desired aquatic skillsets; they emerged with increased levels of self-esteem and higher morale. They basically emerged believing that they could accomplish something unique, extreme, something great, all the things that can make a great leader. So, corporate training via drowning simulations was born.
The course cost about $950 for each student and is a 6-hour day. The day starts off by trading in suits for helmets and wetsuits and jumping from a 14-foot platform into a pool with a task of keeping the group warm in freezing conditions. It progresses pretty quickly from there, all the while, there is various equipment that can simulate up to 120 hour winds, rain, fire, smoke, and noise. This is the real deal. Some people bail before the day starts, and some people can’t complete the day. Those that accomplish it though, are changed, and for the better.
The final exercise is their simulator that mimics the cockpit of a helicopter or small aircraft. They group is lowered into the pool by a large crane and the team goes through a series of crisis situations to attempt an escape. The group is in the apparatus, with water filling in, only to find their window is stuck, so what next?
As I did a little research apparently this idea of extreme team building is growing. There are companies that have various racecar driving courses, or driving courses blindfolded, sumo wrestling. A company called Sky Top Lodge up in the Poconos Mountains offers activities such as archery tag with real bows and arrows, or a wilderness survival experience, where nights are spent in the wild.
I could not help but to think that PEO employees would be the perfect group to handle extreme stress, crisis, and emerge unscathed and as stronger leaders. Employees and Executives who thrive in the PEO industry can adapt to constantly changing conditions, respond quickly and be innovative in their approach to complex situations. They are extreme. So Dan, I am in, how about you?
Dan: Count me in too!