In the near future, I'll be flying off to Europe to attend a course. It is a global course, with participants coming from many countries all around the world.
The course is residential, one week long, and intensive. Every day, it starts early in the morning (like 8:00 am sharp) and ends quite late at night (like 9:30 pm). There are no breaks except for lunch and dinner. When I get back to my hotel room each night, I'll also have to prepare for the next day's sessions. Which means that I probably won't get much sleep.
The course will be extensively graded and scored. If I pass, then I qualify for Part 2 of the course. This will be another intensive one-week event, to be held later in the year, in another part of the world. If I fail (either Part 1 or Part 2), then I am automatically disqualified from being considered for promotion in 2011. That's a strict rule.
You might be thinking that since I am a lawyer, the course probably has to do with the law, and that I will be attending lectures and sitting for exams.
However, it's not that kind of course at all. The course is mostly about personal effectiveness, and soft skills. And it is extremely hands-on. Based on what I know about it so far, a big part of the course will be run like a .... reality TV show.
What do I mean? Well, the course will constantly place me in a variety of simulated scenarios. For example, I might be required to act as the leader of a group of people facing an emergency. Or I might have to act as a CEO chairing a meeting on business strategy. I would then be closely observed, to see how I handle the situation.
And I will be assessed on attributes such as my leadership qualities; my presentation skills; my ability to convince and influence other people; and how I make decisions. Throughout the week, there will be judges to give me criticism and feedback on my performance.
It's going to be a little bit like Survivor (but less rigorous), or The Apprentice (but less bitchy) or the American Idol (but less glamorous).
(I understand that in one particular year, the participants even had to plan a rescue mission. There was a real cliff, with rappelling equipment, and a real little girl waiting at the bottom of the cliff. The idea was that you and/or your team members had to rappell down the cliff, to rescue the girl).
I've heard accounts about a few previous participants who felt so stressed that they voluntarily dropped out of the course, after Day One or Day Two. They chose to drop out, even though they knew that their promotion prospects would be dashed. So evidently the course can be challenging.
I do look forward to it. It will be an unusual and memorable experience, at the very least. Wish me luck!