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Determined to Survive the Apocalypse

Determined to Survive the Apocalypse

​In the heart of an enigmatic European landscape, we embarked on a thrilling escape from a post-apocalyptic vault, daring to rescue humanity (you owe us one!). Despite the company’s booking stipulating a minimum of three participants, we defiantly signed up as a duo, gambling on the chance they might accommodate us upon arrival.

 Upon entering, our game master embarked on an impassioned soliloquy, her emotions palpable as she recounted her own harrowing experience attempting the same challenge with just two players. Despite her heartfelt plea for reconsideration, we remained resolute in our decision.

 Undeterred, we plunged into the depths of the adventure, braving the perils of the vault, toppling malevolent robots, and navigating a treacherous maze of sewers (thankfully devoid of their characteristic stench). Yet, amidst the adrenaline-fueled triumphs, frustrations arose as our game master faltered in her role, inadvertently disrupting our progress with untimely hints.

 Nevertheless, the experience proved enlightening, underscoring the profound truth that individual perspectives can drastically shape shared encounters. We departed with newfound wisdom, emphasizing the importance of forging our own paths and refraining from allowing our own or others’ setbacks to dictate our journey. Let this escapade serve as a testament: perseverance prevails in the pursuit of our ambitions.

Surviving the Slaughterhouse: Lessons Learned Inside the Home of a Murderous Butcher

Surviving the Slaughterhouse: Lessons Learned Inside the Home of a Murderous Butcher

The following is a guest blog written by Stephanie Hubka of ProtosLearning.com

The room was pitch black; my flashlight had mysteriously turned off when I needed it the most. From behind me, a voice growled, “You’ll never get out in time.” I rolled my eyes and fumbled toward the doorway, aware of how my heart had settled into a steady, measured rhythm. “That’s what you think,” I muttered. Despite the dark, success was the only option I could see.

Far from my typical days as an instructional designer, I found myself voluntarily trapped in the home of a notorious butcher in a desperate attempt to confirm his identity before he struck again—and if he did, it could be at my expense. Partnered with two of my brilliant friends turned investigators, we had just 60 minutes to solve puzzle after puzzle, each one bringing us closer to the escape we desperately wanted.

As we entered the butcher’s home, we shared a singular focus, but with no time to strategize, I wondered how I might best contribute to our work. It quickly became clear that if we were to outwit the butcher, I needed to know when to lead and when to follow. It was tempting to rush in and begin moving items around, searching for patterns or clues in a way that made sense to me. If I were alone in the room, that strategy might have been successful, but with two team members bringing their own skills to the task, it became essential that we find ways to build on each other’s successes. When one person worked on a puzzle, I focused my attention elsewhere to avoid duplicating efforts, and we gave each other space to make mistakes and reach conclusions as experts in the tasks we tackled. When someone had a breakthrough, I was quick to learn about it and think of ways it might impact my work—and when I had a breakthrough, I readily shared that information so we could move forward as a team. Each of us had a few celebratory moments while searching for the butcher’s identity, all because we were willing to lead where we could and follow when someone else more clearly saw the path in front of us.

There was much to see, do, and process while locked in the butcher’s house. It would have been easy to let our dwindling time take up valuable space in my brain. Instead, I focused on my experience instead of the clock. It’s so easy to get distracted when the pressure starts to build; our internal voices can be the first to plant the seeds of doubt. I was only a little surprised to hear an external voice echo the same doubt I was trying to bury when I was alone in a dark room. At that moment, I had two choices: I could give into the fear or leverage my confidence. The latter helped me recenter, focus, and return to contributing to the challenges we faced. The benefits were instantly noticeable when I did: my heart rate lowered, my senses sharpened, and my brain felt sharp instead of cloudy. When our team ultimately found success and escaped what would have been a gruesome demise, we still had time on the clock. All of us found the confidence we needed to get the job done.

Fortunately, I don’t battle against murderous butchers regularly, but I discovered that thriving in that environment isn’t as different from thriving at work as I might have thought. Escape rooms are an incredible way to test your boundaries, strengthen your skills, and identify new talents. They can also provide valuable lessons long after the final clue is deciphered. When I experience contentious conversations or find myself up against challenging deadlines, I take time to center, focus, prioritize, and let others take the lead when they have more information than I do. I’m always amazed by how much easier, more productive, and more fun work is when I apply those key takeaways in the real world.

How do you decide when to lead or when to follow? What techniques are used to center yourself when internal or external voices threaten your focus? You never know when the answer to these questions might save your workday or life from a notorious butcher!

The Dual Nature of Anticipation in a Secret Gallery

The Dual Nature of Anticipation in a Secret Gallery

As we penetrated deeper into the labyrinthine corridors of the mansion, the secret gallery whispered its secrets from the shadows. Our sources had been adamant: the magical stones of untold power lay within these ancient walls. Time was not our ally; it raced against us with the relentless tick of a clock in an empty room.

Navigating through the mansion was like wading through the cluttered mind of an eccentric genius – a chaotic amalgam of brilliance and madness. Every room was a trove of mysteries, each artifact a potential clue. The omnipresent question haunted us: were we mere steps away from our goal, or did an endless maze of deception lie ahead?

In one dimly lit corner, a faint outline suggested a hidden door. Was this a gateway to our prize, or just another intricate ruse of the mansion’s enigmatic creator? Doubt and anticipation waged war in our minds, a maelstrom clouding our focus. Then, an alcove unveiled itself as if by fate, a beacon of hope in our dimming quest. It was a pivotal moment, realigning our path with the stones’ elusive trail. To our surprise, we were much further along than we had dared to hope. Finally, with the stones securely in our grasp and the malevolent mansion receding into the night, a wave of relief enveloped us. The ordeal was over, and we escaped just in the nick of time.

This escape room adventure mirrors the dual nature of anticipation. When we anticipate joyous events – like a long-awaited vacation or a celebration – it fills us with energy and positive emotions, casting aside anxiety and stress. But the anticipation of less desirable outcomes – be it a daunting job interview or a challenging social event – can have the opposite effect, amplifying our stress and potentially clouding our judgment.

Often, we find ourselves fixated on the worst-case scenarios, especially in situations shrouded in uncertainty. This negative anticipation can spiral, potentially manifesting the very outcomes we fear most. It’s a psychological trap, one that can ensnare even the most rational minds. However, there’s a way out of this mental labyrinth. Recognizing and confronting these negative anticipation patterns, we can anchor ourselves in the present moment. Here, in the now, we can reshape our emotions and expectations. Like finding our way through the enigmatic mansion, we can navigate our minds away from the shadows of dread and towards a brighter, more hopeful perspective.

Ultimately, our journey through the escape room adventure – much like our journey through life’s uncertainties – teaches us a valuable lesson. By confronting and overcoming negative anticipation, we can emerge victorious, no matter how winding the path or elusive the goal.

Seeing with New Eyes

Seeing with New Eyes

During our recent escape room getaway, our team returned to an escape room venue we had visited three years prior. Our anticipation was high, fueled by fond memories of its sophistication and fun. With five new rooms to conquer in a single day, our excitement was palpable. Our adventure began by battling phantoms in an abandoned campground, followed by four other captivating yet frustrating challenges. Over dinner, as we discussed our experiences, we realized our heightened expectations were the source of our frustration. Our recollection of enjoyment was genuine, but our perspective had evolved dramatically after tackling some of the world’s most exceptional escape rooms in the following years.

Have you ever revisited a place, situation, or individual, only to perceive them differently after new experiences? This shift in perspective can happen gradually over the years or instantaneously. It might feel unsettling initially, but reflecting on your personal growth and how it reshapes your perceptions can be incredibly enlightening. Consider your journey and how it has informed your outlook—it’s a valuable part of your ongoing development!

Show Appreciation When Accepting an Exclusive Invitation

Show Appreciation When Accepting an Exclusive Invitation

We had received an exclusive invitation to meet the owner of a famous toy store. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the store, we realized something was wrong, and the renowned toy maker had died. His ghost was still present, though, and he invited us to work through a series of delightful challenges to recover a priceless toy. Our adventure took us through an alley, we then shrunk and found ourselves inside an arcade game, and then through the toy maker’s workshop to get all of the necessary objects to locate the secret room in which the priceless toy was located.

We were grateful to have received the invitation that led to this experience. Gratitude is an underrated emotion that can completely change one’s perspective and how one experiences their current reality. We find that the more we look at people, events, and experiences with gratitude, the more precious they become. Where could you use a little more gratitude in your life?

Bring Knee Pads When Traveling Through Time

Bring Knee Pads When Traveling Through Time

We had a serious mission to undertake – the doctor who invented time travel gravely messed up, resulting in chaos in our current timeline. As he traveled through different eras, he inadvertently left bits of the present in the past. Our job was to return to other times in history and retrieve the various objects, returning them to the present and saving the timeline. We started out in an alley and were able to work through a series of puzzles to activate the time machine, finding ourselves crawling through a tunnel and into the days of the caveman. After retrieving an object, we had to crawl through another tunnel and into the Wild West. 

Working through the various eras required a lot of crawling, and none of the time tunnels were outfitted with soft padding. We soon found ourselves with sore and bruised knees. We successfully reset the timeline, leaving the challenge bruised and battered. Lesson learned – we face many challenges in life, and we need to prepare for them as much as possible. It may feel silly bringing knee pads to an escape room experience, just as it may feel silly bringing a certain tool you think you need to work on a project, but you’ll thank yourself later for your amazing foresight.

A Couple of Bumbling Spies Can Still Be Successful

A Couple of Bumbling Spies Can Still Be Successful

We entered the secret location of the evil General under the cover of being pest control technicians. We weren’t aware of what our cover would be before we arrived at the location, so we were scrambling to sound like we knew what we were talking about when we met the guard who would escort us throughout the building. It was an awkward conversation as one of us would take turns attempting to distract the guard while the other would search the room for clues. We were after the blueprints of the secret location so we could scan them, send them back to HQ, and then get out of there before our cover was blown.

We finally got rid of the guard for 30 minutes or so, allowing us to explore the facility further, and we found a missile ready to launch, with its destination being our HQ. After a few failed attempts at disarming it, we successfully disarmed it and fled the location before being captured. While we felt we weren’t being the most effective spies, we still got the job done. This parallels life when there are times when we don’t feel like we’re being successful at whatever we’re attempting, but as long as we get the job done, we should be proud that we persevered and finished.

Staying Calm When Your Partner is About to be Electrocuted

Staying Calm When Your Partner is About to be Electrocuted

We found ourselves in another asylum. This was different because they were experimenting on how willing people were to electrocute a test subject in the other room to escape. We worked through various challenges and found ourselves in an electrocution chamber. We realized that we were now part of the experiment and had to find a way out before the next group electrocuted one of us.

The atmosphere was intense as we could see the other people working their way through the challenges we had just completed and were attempting to complete our own before they succeeded in throwing the final switch, which would electrocute one of us currently strapped into a chair. To make matters worse, there was an urgent whispering voice telling us what needed to be done, loud music, and lights flashing. All of these were cultivated by the experimenters to create anxiety, taking away from the ability to focus and work through the tasks at hand.

Being experienced escapeletes, we knew that we needed to stay calm, shut out the distractions, and take the time to think through what needed to be done to escape. We succeeded just minutes before one of us met our untimely doom! We realized this was yet another reminder to stay calm and focused when there appears to be chaos around us, perhaps a looming deadline, an overwhelming task list, or whatever else a typical day throws at us. When we can take a moment to step out of the chaos and change our mindset, it is amazing how the clarity and focus gained can help us accomplish what we need.

Sometimes You Don’t Need to Know How You Got the Answer When Fighting a Dark Wizard

Sometimes You Don’t Need to Know How You Got the Answer When Fighting a Dark Wizard

We received information that the dark wizard was back, and we had to act fast to contain him before he could wreak havoc on the world again. To access his secret lair, we had to work through a series of challenges concerning the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water. We took a while to search through the room and identify the tools we would need for each of the elemental puzzles and quickly worked through those related to fire, earth, and water. We were stumped when it came to air, though. We had no idea what we needed to do to work through it. We started trying different things, experimenting with ways we thought could solve the challenge. After a few attempts, the element suddenly activated, and a secret door began opening in the middle of the main table in the room.

Rather than pausing to figure out how we overcame the challenge, we decided to move on and went down a set of stairs that appeared after the secret door opened. We worked our way into a final room and were able to trap the wizard to keep him from further harming the magical community. Sometimes in life, we can make something happen without understanding how we did it. Of course, sometimes it helps to figure out what we did to be able to replicate it in the future. But other times, we must shrug, be grateful it worked out, and move on.

Learning to Use Tools Differently in a Forest Full of Fairies

Learning to Use Tools Differently in a Forest Full of Fairies

This was a magical mission. We each entered the forest with special tools: a magical wand, a sword, a crystal ball, and a magic book. We spent the first few minutes greeting the forest fairies and helping them get magical berries so that they would be helpful to us on the rest of our journey. They did end up assisting us quite a bit, between cracking jokes at our expense when we bumbled through a few challenges that came our way. At one point, we were trying to open a door into a house owned by dwarves to gather supplies for the next part of our journey. We struggled until one of the fairies suggested we use the sword as a door handle. Wow! It worked!

Once in the tiny house, we gathered most of the supplies. We struggled to figure out how to get to the final needed element to fully restore the magic in the forest well before the magic ran out and all the magical creatures in the surrounding forest died. Thankfully, a fairy popped in to make fun of us for not considering hoisting the crystal ball through a tunnel in the wall and using the sword as a crank. You’d think we learned that we needed to look at the tools in our hands differently and get creative from the first struggle we faced.

We did end up restoring the magic in the forest that day. And we walked away with another important lesson—our brains will look at a tool and think of using it in the way it was intended. But there are so many other ways to use the tools in our lives that can benefit us. In what way are you limiting yourself?