In any high pressure situation, leadership is critical, even more so when it means life or death.
If a helicopter crashes into the ocean, its cabin rotates and takes on water very quickly. Sinking at a rate of nine to 13 feet per second, it’s a quick descent to a watery grave.
Submerged, the average person can hold his/her breath for about half a minute.
Every 33 feet, the pressure per square inch on the body increases by 14.6lbs, roughly the weight of a bowling ball. The heart and lungs strain for air the deeper one goes. The average scuba diver becomes incapacitated at around 250 feet.
Disoriented and upside down, passengers have to free themselves from a tangled mess of seat and shoulder straps. The brackish sea water begins to mix with hydraulic fluid and fuel. Visibility is low and swirling debris further adds to the confusion.
While resisting the urge to fight for air, can you find the exit and escape?
This was the dilemma posed to contestants during a simulated physical challenge on the most recent episode of The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition.
Making a guest appearance, I got to observe the two teams of contestants strategize and struggle through this terrifying encounter.
Our day started early at one of the specialized simulation facilities in Tuas, Singapore, where marine workers in the offshore industry undergo mandatory emergency training in underwater egress.
Even before things were underway, the sheer complexity of this task, especially under such duress brought me back to my conversation with open water sensation Adam Walker.
Sink or swim as he said. There is no other option.
Bear in mind that without warning, the contestants are thrust into a totally different world. As an experienced recreational diver, I knew they were about to be subjected to different laws of physics under water.
Right away, you could tell that everyone was really competitive and alpha. It is after all, a reality competition series, and they were still of course, on dry land.
Yet, I was particularly interested in looking out for the ones that could keep a level head, understand the priorities and formulate an escape plan. Leaders emerge under extreme circumstances and this was nothing if not extreme.
One by one, contestants were throwing out their game plans. That said, one voice will usually stand out. That person is not only able to explain and detail their strategy easily, but also present it with such conviction that it leaves no doubt.
Decisiveness, especially when it comes to a life and death situation, is paramount to survival. Whether it be good or bad, leaders decide and execute.
The contestants were also quickly drawn to that individual, because he/she was willing to own that responsibility of being a leader with their game plan.
I was quickly reminded of Kat Cole, one of my guests on Quite Franklin who espouses the “treat it like you own it” mantra. No matter how big or small the task, the former COO and President of Focus Brands says she undertakes it with the same conviction.
That conviction and ownership can become addictive and trickle down to the rest of the team. Only those that embody such qualities at the top can instill confidence in their team and avert panic when things go awry.
On the surface, conviction and strategy can only take you so far. Once underwater however, not everything will go according to plan.
Patrik Nilsson, a Swedish rescue swimmer was on his way to pick up a cardiac patient from a nearby island when their helicopter crashed unexpectedly.
Nilsson, who was unbuckled at the time, found himself under water as the cabin flipped and began sinking. Despite it being at night, he was able to orient himself, help a fellow crew member and escape from the rotorcraft together.
In the real world, with actual and chaotic hazards, things can turn on a dime. Under pressure, can the leader find his/her bearings and take control of the situation?