3 Takeaways from Carey Adventure

Yongxu Zhou
Yongxu Zhou

Yongxu (Violet) Zhou is an MS in Marketing student at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. She graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2017, majoring in quantitative marketing and international business. In her sophomore year, she was selected to join Bloomberg Academy as a member of the Business Intelligence team. In her junior year, she was offered to study as an exchange student at University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she developed a strong interest in digital marketing. As the marketing officer of the University Professional Enhancement Club, Violet coordinated and promoted 9 activities that helped students to prepare themselves for career planning. Throughout her undergraduate study, she took 3 internships and part-time jobs in each academic year and in different places, including Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. She supported the digital marketing team at Allianz Global Investors, an asset management firm, and digital product and design team at Aviva, an insurance company in 5 cross-regional and functional marketing and digital projects. In her spare time, she enjoys making friends from diverse cultural backgrounds and facilitating cultural exchange. As a cultural ambassador, she gave a speech at the International Showcase that attracted 566 audience in Madison. She also loves travelling, playing tennis and writing songs.

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Imagine you are standing 25 feet in the air, struggling to balance. Now, make a 180 degree turn, take a deep breath, and get ready to jump higher and grab a hanging rope. What do you feel? Fear, hopelessness, or excitement? Do you think you will get the rope?

In fact, this was exactly what happened to me and 9 other Carey students on our Outward Bound Adventure day. The main task was to grab or touch the rope hanging 25 feet from the ground. However, we needed to first climb up a ladder, which connected to a platform where we could barely move around while standing, then climb to the top of the post and jump from there. Throughout the challenge, we had to communicate with other teammates about our intended movement so that they could pull or release safety ropes in their hands to keep us safe. Though we all tried our best, none of us could successfully accomplish the main goal. So let me share 3 takeaways from our failure.

  1. Stay focused on your ultimate goal

It was quite easy to climb up the ladder and reach the platform, but getting to the top of the platform was much more difficult and energy consuming. We felt relieved once we arrived at the top because we thought we’ve passed the most exhausting part. Then, we got DISTRACTED. We started enjoying the view, the breeze and the fresh air, trying to reward ourselves and having the illusion that we completed the task.

So, many of us did not evaluate the next challenge—grabbing the rope with full attention—and ended up failing to even get close to it. Well, it is perfectly fine to take a break to recharge yourself, but please always remember your ultimate goal and stay focused on it. Otherwise, you might get satisfied with small successes at the initial stages and feel less motivated to come up with the best strategy or solution to reach the final goal and achieve a big success at the end.

  1. Find your support team and ask for help

While we were climbing up, we tried to find stepping stones by ourselves. We concentrated on having different trials and switching between different options on our own. But this took us extra time to finally reach the top. At times, teammates on the ground offered advice. Most of the time, they were not sure if those climbing needed help so they kept silent and avoided making “noise” and distracting the climbers.

Apparently, things could have been different if the climbers had asked for help when they encountered difficulties. So, find your support team and ask for their help when you find it hard to solve a problem by yourself. Do not feel shy or embarrassed; this is going to save your time and help your team reach the goal faster when you are taking the challenge in a group setting.

  1. Have faith in your support team and yourself

While we were climbing up, the most challenging part was to stand upright at the top – the standing area was too small and we had to move slowly and carefully to avoid falling. That’s why most of us hesitated at that point—we felt scared and thought it was almost impossible to balance ourselves in the air without anything to lean on or hold in hand. Teammates on the ground often encouraged me and offered suggestions, advising me on different ways to balance.

The experience reminded me of moments when you want to give up on solving a big and difficult problem. Take a step back, and ask yourself, “You made it through the previous challenges and are almost there, so why not taking an extra step?” You take the risk of failing but you also have the chance of winning, so just trust yourself and people who support and help you.

When I look back now, I realize that the adventure was all about teamwork, determination, and risk taking. Later, when you face a challenge as tough or tougher than this one, remember to stay focused on your ultimate goal, find your support team and have faith in them and yourself. No matter how impossible a challenge may seem, just give it a shot. Always be the one who feels the fear but still dares to bite the bullet.

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