Have you ever looked back to a time when you were under extreme pressure and questioned why you reacted the way that you did?
You may have felt in control, but did hindsight tell a different story?
As lawyers, we’re under intense pressure on a daily basis; it’s easy to shrug our shoulders and think we know what we’re doing. However, this blog will help you turn that idea upside down and show you that game training could be the key to keeping a cool head during chaos, crises and high-conflict situations.
I’ve recently been chatting to former war journalist Antonia Koop, now CEO and Co-Founder of CobaltIED, a multinational tech startup. It’s launching state of the art VR/AR/XR (virtual reality, augmented reality, and extended reality) technologies to deliver a series of immersive, simulator game-training experiences designed to develop frontline leadership, create high-performing teams, build resilience, boost problem-solving, and reduce human error during critical operations and never before experienced circumstances.
How do you prepare for something you didn’t foresee or that you’ve never imagined before?
Hop onto the Water+Air podcast if you’d like to hear my conversation with Antonia in full.
In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to deal with conflict or crises, but as the pandemic has shown us, and the war in Ukraine, we can’t simply hope for the best and stick our heads in the sand. We need to prepare ourselves so that we respond to crises and conflicts as skilfully as possible.
Antonia shared the findings of research indicating that 70%+ of major incidents have been either caused or massively exacerbated by “human error”, which tells us loud and clear that we need to train ourselves to perform better!
There’s a plethora of training programmes and workshops out there (I’ll be sharing more about Fuel+Move’s own exciting offering in a moment!); the first thing I wanted to know was why Antonia’s game training was a cut above the rest.
Antonia: “When we’re in a crisis, our logical analytical ability to process information goes out the window. The clarity in our head disappears, especially when we’re not used to crisis situations.”
Lawyers (me included!) often think they can keep a cool head even when there are flames all around them, but it seems we’re a little misguided; if we’re not careful, it could be “GAME OVER!”
Antonia: “I did a military training exercise to improve my understanding of war zone dynamics. When I came under fire, I threw myself behind a wall. I ended up on the wrong side of the wall. The instructor told me I had just died.
When the shooting started, I was convinced I was in full control. I thought I had it covered. I was wrong. We might feel like we’re in control, but it doesn’t mean that we are. Similarly as a CEO, sometimes I think I make good decisions and then I look back and wonder where to start cleaning up the mess!!
Most of us multitask, we are under time pressure, constantly bombarded with information and there are so many distractions it’s becoming increasingly impossible to stay in focus and in control, but with the right training we can get better at it.”
Antonia certainly made a compelling case for improving our crisis management skills, but I wanted to know how gamification or game training could make a difference.
Antonia: “Gamification [enhancing learning and engagement by creating similar user experiences] doesn’t fully fire up interest. People might absorb information, but even with rewards or leaderboards that give us a quick release of dopamine, it doesn’t create any genuine experience, which is why we are focusing on game training.
Game training can include virtual reality and augmented reality which is gamespace learning on steroids! The game designers create worlds with a mind-blowing level of reality. Our brains cannot distinguish between a real event and one that is intensely imagined or simulated.
We can learn as though we are in that situation in real life. Game training helps us experience what it’s really like to be in a massive emergency instead of just talking about, reading about or hearing about it second-hand.
We can experience the heat and intensity of that situation in a completely safe and controlled environment.”
Can you imagine how much you could enhance your performance if you could fully rehearse and prime how you think and behave when faced with a challenge?
Let’s be honest, crises are acute, immediate, and throw you in at the deep end!
I wanted to hear more about the benefits of game training, and Antonia shared five:
It gives you a real-life experience which helps to both reduce the shock and stop you going into basic survival mode (you’ve got a team to look after, remember).
When you rehearse the experience in 3D mode, the learning helps you wire your brain for optimal performance.
Once you have experienced appropriate game training, you recognise the danger in situations but become confident and trust in your ability to respond.
You learn how to distribute tasks and collaborate with your team under high stress.
You learn about the needs of your team members, where they might crack under pressure, and how best to communicate. Ideally you want to build your team and work on communication before you face a crisis!
Game training has got me thinking about crisis management and conflict in a whole new way. As you know, I also love to find simple actions that we can take every single day in order to make extraordinary differences to how we live and work. Antonia shared three ways that you can start to build your resilience right now.
1. Know yourself
Antonia: “In a crisis situation, we see what comes out of the closet. People trip over their blind spots. You might think you’re a great leader and communicator, but in a crisis situation if you start yelling at your team, nobody knows what to do any more.
You need to know what pressure does to you and how you respond. Do you become pushy? Do you stop listening to other people? Do you retreat into your own shell? Do you lose control?”
2. Face your fears
Antonia went on to explain that fear is a powerful and natural response to danger, but it can also incapacitate us. She shared a great mindset shift.
Antonia: “Fear is something a lot of us see as negative, but it’s just on the other side of the coin from courage. When you face your fears, go through them and embrace them, we develop courage, and we need that to deal with crisis, conflict and a fast-paced, fast-changing, dynamic environment!”
I particularly enjoyed Antonia’s final point (below) because if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s likely we can all think of a time that we bumped up against another lawyer or team member, only to find that we needed their expertise a day or so later! Awkward!
3. Be respectful
Antonia: “You’d better pay respect to all the people around you, because in game training and in real life, you never know who you might have to rely on to pull you out of the line of fire.”
I hope you’ve found the concept of game training as exhilarating as I did (it certainly beats episode 5 of The Apprentice where the candidates sent a virtual scientist to save penguins in the Artic – oh yes, the candidates even forgot the first c in Arctic when they designed the game cover, never mind the fact there are no penguins there in the first place!!).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on game training. Are you inspired to try it? If so, Antonia has supported Fuel+Move to design and develop an amazing game-training experience so that you can develop tactical capability, build a multidisciplinary team, hone your leadership skills and set yourself up for success.
You can participate in FM: CatalyseGT Game-Training Bootcamp in-person or enjoy remote play. Expect high intensity, high impact, and, most of all, brilliant results!
And, if you haven’t already, subscribe to the Water+Air podcast to make sure you’re at the forefront of new ways to help you and your legal teams shine (especially in times of crisis and high conflict!).
Antonia is CEO of Kite Rider Strategic Adventures Ltd and also CobaltIED.
Antonia Koop can be found here:
Parul is an experienced international lawyer, demanding client, disruptive consultant and thought-provoking non-executive director and board advisor.
She's advised law firms and big global brands like Nike, Speedo and Manchester United, as well as supporting inner-city social change programmes, startups and scale-ups. Fuel+Move is born of her passion to improve interaction with the legal sector and achieve a better experience with better outcomes for its stakeholders.
Parul Patel can be found here: