In my regular trainings and visits to hundreds of facilities all over the world, one of the most common misunderstandings I come across is the maxim Challenge by Choice.
Too many programs appear to simply pay lip service to this very powerful philosophical framework (developed by Project Adventure in 1971), suggesting that simply mentioning that there is a choice means no one is under pressure to participate.
This shallow understanding is as flawed as it is dangerous.
So, can you choose freely in your programs?
In order for your participants to freely choose, you – the group facilitator, teacher, corporate trainer, etc – must, must, MUST create an environment in which appropriate choices can be made. And by appropriate, I mean in regards the goals of your program and the preparedness of your group.
If an individual or a group can not freely choose, then, in effect, there is no choice.
An individual standing in front of a difficult exercise watching all of their colleagues complete the task does not have a ‘choice’ if they are compelled to (a) do the task under duress/peer pressure, or (b) stump up an excuse to back away from the exercise in an effort to avoid embarrassment.
If there was true freedom to choose, a challenge by choice, then this individual would be able to (a) attempt the activity without fear of ridicule if they should ‘fail,’ or (b) request the support of their group for their decision not to complete the exercise now.
When people can freely choose, they are more profoundly related to the consequences of their choices and thereby are more likely to take responsibility for their actions.