Life lessons can be learned anywhere. For those unfamiliar with the increasingly popular recreational activity, an escape room is an adventure game that requires players to solve puzzles and riddles using a given number of hints, clues, and resources. Typically, the goal is to escape the room in which the players are contained. Many escape rooms are independently owned, and for the most part, there is no standard design or method to the madness.
The challenge of an escape room is unique, and success requires qualities that easily translate into real-world success. Let Robby Vang take you through his own experience in an escape room and show you what can be gained from it.
- COMMUNICATE – SHOUT WHEN YOU’VE FOUND SOMETHING
You can’t escape from an escape room with duck tape over your mouth. One of the most important lessons is communication. When you’ve found a lock, a book, or a key (hmm… perhaps for THAT lock?), SAY SOMETHING! It is very important every one of your party members is aware of the items found in the room that will help aid in your escape. Even if they mean nothing now, when you find more clues you can utilize a four-digit number you found on that safe on the bottom of that bookshelf. Go figure?
Likewise, communication is a major key to success in life. We grow up learning from those who know more than us and we pass it on to those still learning. Whether it’s how an idea works, what makes someone successful, or why some people use the strategies they have used, lessons are learned through communication as much as they are with trial and error.
- TEAMWORK – LEARN TO WORK TOGETHER & INDEPENDENTLY
Unless you’re an escape artist, you probably couldn’t get through an escape room alone. There are other people in the room with you who share the same goal. You should learn to apply your skills collectively. In one escape room, we were all handcuffed. What was the first goal? FIND THE KEY. While there were many of us, we were able to cover more ground and look thoroughly in specific areas.
Whether you’re at school or at work, you’ve probably come across a time where you’ve had group projects or team meetings. It’s essential to participate and give your fair share of input so that everyone can be successful. Again, a collective effort is needed in order to get things done.
While the collective power is vital, it is also imperative to work independently. If you’re more of a math whiz, you may find yourself attracted to the number puzzles. One time, I was handed the task of figuring out a riddle written on a ladder because I was an English minor, and nobody else wanted to do it. Either way, I gladly (and comfortably) accepted.
In life, we can all agree we spend some sort of time alone. It can be time set aside to read because that’s what you like to do or time to hangout by yourself simply because you need to recharge from the world. But when you come together again, you have your own stories to tell your friends. Likewise, you have your own solved puzzles to move the group forward. There is an important lesson in expanding on your own strengths and utilizing that uniqueness to succeed rather than trying to be good at something others already know well.
3. USE GOOD JUDGMENT – FORGIVE & FORGET
Not every single thing in an escape room has a use. Some items are insignificant. There was once a key hanging in a framed box on the wall. We used a strong magnet (from another clue) to try to get it out since there was a tiny opening. It turns out we (more like I) wasted a solid 8 minutes trying to magnet the key out of the frame. We didn’t need the key, and we didn’t need to use the magnet beyond its first use. It’s up to you to use good judgment on what is a clue and what might be a distraction.
In life, we go through so many different experiences unique to us. Many are useful and hold a lot of good memories for us. Some we can choose to forget. It’s up to you to hold on to those good experiences like how graduating high school motivated me to push forward in order to graduate college. On the other hand, you may want to put something like a bad breakup behind you and not let it distract or ruin your future relationships.
4. BE RESOURCEFUL – DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
TOUCH EVERYTHING! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned a knob and a key fell from a nearby pipe or I’ve hit a light switch and numbers appeared on the wall that weren’t there before. In the rooms, some of these ordinary things are worth your attention. It’s up to you to use that judgment on the seemingly insignificant and stretch your curiosity. If there is a desk, start opening drawers. If there are loose books, look inside the covers or even at the titles on the spines and they may contain clues.
When you feel like you’ve touched everything you can and the team has plateaued in progress, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is usually a hint system with each escape room and you’re allowed to utilize it (of course asking for 100 hints to get through the room is possible but no fun). It’s okay to ask for clues when everyone is in mutual agreement since it’s going to advance you.
In life, while you may know the right friends, mentors, or professionals to ask, the importance of networking is that initial reaching out that must be done. If you’re the one in need, resources aren’t magically going to come to you. You must go out and find it or ask for it.
5. NEVER GIVE UP – FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT
You can’t forget that time is limited and you should not take it for granted. When there are many members huddled around the same puzzle, venture out and work on what others aren’t working on. This is part of dividing to conquer. Even if you’re stuck at a standstill, you can still use your eyes to observe. Some of my best observations have progressive outcomes. Maybe there’s something behind that poster because it’s a bit out of place. Maybe the mirror in the room is a two-way-mirror making you realize there’s another room on the other side that you can get to. If you’re a fan of movies, you’re probably familiar with the movie trope when a character is just sitting around not doing anything while others consistently work hard on the problem at hand, and then SNAP! Just like that, an epiphany comes to mind and they have the answer to the problem. It’s kind of like that.
Consistency is key when it comes to success in any category. A big part of that consistency is the confidence you have in yourself. At times you may not be getting the love or support you need for the outcome of your projects and it makes you want to stop. But like the escape rooms, you should never give up. Have that confidence in yourself, and if you have to, fake it until you make it. Pretend you can see through ordinary objects in the room. Pretend you have the confidence to take it day by day consistently until you make it. This allows you to remember that failure is okay. You’re going to get up the next day and do it again.