We had to find the vault quickly before the secret organization found us, and our last chance to find the magical stones disappeared (along with us). The stones would allow us to bring about world peace (and unlimited wealth). Don’t worry; we were only in it for philanthropic reasons (of course!) We found the cult leader’s office and searched it thoroughly. We noticed an interesting nail on a pillar near the fireplace and were able to wrap a strange belt around it. As it wound around, words began appearing, spelling “Port Traits.” Excellent, now we just had to find a map and identify the correct port. Maybe the clues would lead us to an ocean liner. But there were no maps and no references to ships or boats. Time seemed to be speeding by, and the various portraits of the famous members of the Illuminati around the room seemed to be dispassionately judging us. As we searched, we found a secret compartment in the large desk in the center of the room, but we would need a code to get into it. Suddenly, one of the team noticed something strange in the pictures around the room. Looking more closely at them, they had symbols on them. Bingo, the portraits were the key, not “Port Traits.” Oh, wait … ugh. We had the clue all along.
This is an excellent example of what we can learn about life from escape rooms. First, we can frequently progress without a critical piece of information. The clue about looking at the portraits could have been missed, and we still would have seen the symbols. This involves taking an intuitive leap without knowing all the information. Sometimes you must simply guess, get creative, and go with your gut. Second, we often only find what we expect to find (confirmation bias.) It takes looking at the information differently to understand what it means. For example, if we had written down “Port Traits,” it could have become evident that it was really “portraits,” not a “port.” Missing obvious connections can happen frequently in our professional and personal lives. The ability put the pieces together and get the most from the information that we have takes experience and being deliberate. By expanding our exposure to other points of view, experiences, or situations, we can make the most of the information at our fingertips.