Enhancing Emotional Intelligence on a High Ropes Course

When you think of climbing up a rock face, crossing tethered suspended “lily pads” 25 feet in the air, or gritting your teeth while your co-worker takes a gigantic leap of faith from the top a telephone pole, you wouldn’t necessarily equate diving into the psychological inner workings of team dynamics.
At The Nature Place Conference Center near Colorado Springs it is exactly what we do. The Nature Place Conference Center Near Colorado Springs

Week in and week out corporate retreats, teams, and businesses alike visit our property to dig into better understanding their teams and themselves. One of the integral points of study for our guests is the concept of Emotional Intelligence (or EI). EI has gained notoriety in the leadership and business world over the past 15 years with extensive research from Dr. Daniel Goleman. Goleman is a renowned behavioral scientist, author, and former columnist for The New York Times. Goleman’s findings are expanded upon in his 1995 book titled Emotional Intelligence. At its simplest the concept of EI can be broken down into four fluid tenets: Self Awareness, Self Management, Empathy, and Skilled (Self) Regulation.

Goleman further acknowledges that no matter how high an Intellectual Quotient (IQ) a leader may have (or perceive they have for that matter), what holds greater significance is that of an Emotional Quotient (or EQ). The Emotional Quotient is the full embodiment of Emotional Intelligence from within a leader. Not gender or age specific, the practice of being an emotionally intelligent leader has continually proven to be more effective, valued, and profitable than simply leading on intellect alone.

So, how does this concept of Emotional Intelligence relate to an individual harnessing up, tying in, and climbing outside?

The main curriculum of our leadership development programming and team building exercises involves working through light, external stress in the outdoors. It is a leveling experience to go outside, let alone to climb up trees or on rock, and step into an unfamiliar challenge. When we go outside together, we are stripped of the barriers of the office, uniforms, hierarchies; all items that divide us creating rifts are set aside. In the outdoors we are better capable of seeing one another as equals.

By choosing to climb up or simply hold onto a belay rope with a team, individuals can then tap into the power of Emotional Intelligence together. With seconds to breathe, taking stock of a moment and being self aware, a participant or supporting team member has the ability to sense where they stand in that exact moment. After a brief assessment with a facilitator or guide, participants can then decide how they would like to choose to engage in an experiential learning opportunity. By actively choosing to engage the team is most likely to experience the magic of Emotional Intelligence in empathy. This fascinating moment when team members on the ground can feel exactly what a person 25 feet up in the air is processing is the truest expression of empathy. Feeling the same, experiencing a similar reaction with someone while perceiving individual realities: that is empathy.

While embracing the feeling of empathy, it is also critical to acknowledge the tact and self regulation that rounds out the concept of EI. Rather than bursting into a moment of heightened excitement, we coach our participants to practice appropriate responses to stressful situations. Understanding the shared experience is real, however, an external distraction or disruption may impact someone else’s goal negatively. Individuals and groups respond differently, and we coach to a program’s objectives.

If you or your team would like to join us outside and host a corporate retreat, we would be glad to discuss ways in which we can better practice our Emotional Intelligence on a high ropes course in Colorado. Get in touch today to see how you can be a better leader and supportive advocate for your team’s practice of Emotional Intelligence.