I recently returned from what I might describe as the best weekend I've ever had in my entire life. Ever.
Zombie Survival Camp. I'll wait a second as you try to comprehend what that might mean....good? Ok.
I went with one of my best friends, Alex. For an entire weekend we talked, trained and lived zombie survival! The best. As the weekend ended and we survived the mock zombie outbreak that happened on Sunday, I started to think about the big leadership lessons I learned from the experience. Here are my Big 15:
1. Tribes are awesome! We spent a whole weekend with people who were just as stoked about surviving the zombie apocalypse as we were! Though we were all really different and came with difference experiences and opinions, we all came together over one thing: our love and passion for zombies!
2. Just have FUN! Every once in a while, it's important to put everything else that defines you aside (your job, your responsibilities, your fears and your problems) , and just have FUN! For one weekend, all I had to focus on was surviving from a horde of zombies trying to eat my face off.
Best. Weekend. Ever.
3. Complete strangers will always come together over a common fantasy. I think Connor (one of the organizers) said it best when we were talking about what inspired them to create this camp, "It's so nice to be surrounded by people who fantasize on the same level as me." Whether you're talking about surviving the zombie apocalypse or creating a new business, the best kinds of relationships are the ones with people who fantasize on the same level you do.
4. When you're running around trying to make sure you survive, it gets stressful. When shit hits the fan, you need to be able to think clearly...or you'll die. Practicing these skills when you're not in a crisis is the best way I know of making sure you're calm when the herd comes.
5. Sometimes your strategy is going to be thrown out as soon as you take action. Sometimes what you think is a great strategy goes right out the door as soon as you go to implement it. Our team had what we thought was a great strategy to reach the water we needed in order to survive. We made the plan, assigned roles and were about to step out of the safety zone when...HOLY S#!$!! Zombies everywhere! People running in all directions! The only thing we could do was retreat and regroup. Taught us an important lesson in being adaptable.
6. Friendship will strengthen in crisis. Even though they weren't real zombies and we weren't actually going to die, Alex and I came out of that experience feeling like we'd actually just been through something intense and meaningful. I'm confident when I say that when the zombie apocalypse does happen, Alex is the first guy I'm going to call (granted we have cell service) =)
7. Be prepared. Seriously. When the heavy stuff comes down, you're going to need a plan. Even if you don't stick to it, at least you'll be on the same page and have a general direction.
8. We're not leaders in every situation (and that's ok...we shouldn't be!). If you're working as a team, each of you will bring your own strengths to the table. Make sure you know what those are and how they can best be utilized. If you're a great planner but you can't run to save your life (literally), maybe you shouldn't be the one leading the team that's out there looking for supplies.
9. There's no room for democracy in a crisis. That's how people get bit! The worst kind of leader in a crisis is the kind who's asking for everyone else's opinions and feelings. Not only does that lessen the amount of time you have to take action, it also makes people start to think more about the situation more than they need to, which isn't always a good thing! People freak out when they over-think.
10. Sometimes you just have to let 'em get bit! Every once in a while, there's a team member that is either willing to take the "bite" for the greater good of the team (Thanks Jay!) or is so worn out that they just can't do it any more. If the decision is their own, then honour that by completing what you need to do and thanking them.
11. The best kinds of leaders in a crisis know how to delegate to others on the team. There's no micromanaging here. This is straight up leadership. Give them the desired outcome and let them do their thing. You're more likely to get the results you need and want by doing this.
12. Trust. No team functions well if they don't trust the person leading. This is especially true if it means that there's a possibility you're going to get your arm chewed off by a blood-thirsty walker.
13. Watching your best friend get swarmed by a horde of zombies is freakin' terrifying! When you see your friend or teammate being surrounded by a horde of people who are out to hurt him or her, you're placed in a really uncomfortable situation. The best thing to do is to try and divert their attention long enough for him/her to get away.
14. Divert the focus. If there's an objective you're trying to achieve but it's surrounded by biters, send some of your team off to divert their focus. Just make sure you send the ones that can run fast!
15. Survive. That's the whole point. Teamwork, leadership, endurance, perspective, preparation, emotional intelligence...all of these things are important if you're going to keep yourself and your team safe.
Want to learn more about the camp? Check out www.zombiesurvivalcamp.com
Matt Tod is an international speaker, leadership facilitator, writer and lover of all things Zombie-related.