Dr. Anna Plechata Krausova: X-tream training showed me that my limits are flexible

X-tream Management is a staple of a Newton MBA education, attracting not only students, but faculty as well. Participants endure three to four days of challenging physical and mental training under the logic of stress inoculation, with the goal of emerging more resilient and better able to perform exceptionally even under stressful conditions. Newton’s Chancellor Dr. Anna Plechata Krausova joined a team last year, when Newton launched the first international English-taught version of the programme. While this takes place again with ambitious students from partner universities across Europe, we caught up with her to find out what she thought of her first experience, and why she’s so keen to take part again in the future and for everyone to experience this unique training. 

The training

What initially drew you to take part in X-tream Management training, and what did you hope to get out of it?

Mostly, I was curious! I’d heard so many people at Newton talking about it in really glowing terms – that it could push your boundaries, expand your comfort zone and ultimately change your life. Honestly, even though the programme is based on very good science, I was a little bit sceptical at first that I could grow so much in just a couple of days. So I wanted to experience it and find out for myself.

How did the actual experience compare with your expectations?

It really exceeded my expectations. Having to face challenges when I was sleep deprived and hungry showed me that my perceived limits weren't actual limits. There were times I wanted to give up, but when you’re working with a team you can’t let them down, so you keep going. That was a revelation for me.

Participants often come from varied backgrounds, including MBA students, lecturers, and business professionals.  How does this diversity affect the training experience?

It definitely adds another layer of difficulty, but it’s ultimately very positive! You get to know the people in your team really well, and the mix of people means there’s a real range of skills, which comes in handy when you’re faced with such a variety of tasks.

What was the most challenging aspect of the training for you, and how did you cope with it?

Working in a team when I was hungry and tired was tough. For group tasks, we needed to assess how to make the best use of everyone's skills, and I had to access reserves of patience that I didn’t know I had. Our team broke the record for one of the tasks, solving it in 25 minutes – I was quite proud of that!

The aftermath

Following the training, did you make any immediate changes to your lifestyle or to how you approach work?

It definitely showed me the importance of physical fitness for performing at work. My job, like many academic and professional jobs, doesn’t require physical fitness on paper, and it’s not something I had ever really prioritised. But during the training it was clear that the people who were physically fitter were more able to keep up a high level of performance throughout the training. Since then, I’ve taken up running!

The course emphasises resilience; have you felt the benefits of strengthening this faculty in your role as a Chancellor, or in your life outside the university?

Yes, in both! I’ve realised that what feels like a physical limit is often only a psychological limit. It’s helped me to be present and active with my young daughter, even if I’m tired after a long day. At work, sometimes I’m faced with a difficult situation at a time when I’m not feeling particularly energised – previously, I might have put it off, but now I know I can get it done. 

With the training's focus on psychological stability, how have you noticed a change in how you handle work stress and crises?

Without doubt. It really helps in moments where I feel like something is too much, and I can’t cope. This sense of being overwhelmed used to really get to me, but now I can approach these situations with newfound confidence.

Reflecting on your experience, what would you say is the single most valuable takeaway from X-tream Management training?

That my limits – both physical and psychological – are flexible, and that if I push them at the same time, I can make real progress. The moment I understood this was a real moment of elation. 

You're planning to take part in the training a second time in the future; what aspects are you looking forward to revisiting or exploring further?

Rock climbing! I was so tired last time that I didn't trust my body to do it safely, and so I was quite slow. Next time, I want to climb confidently, because it’s something I really enjoy and I know now it was just my mind holding me back. 

How do you think repeated exposure to the training will benefit you?

In my role, I really need my brain to function even when I’m stressed, tired, and hungry, so I feel I want to push this further. And I certainly don’t feel fully inoculated against stress - like with most vaccinations, I need another dose.

For students and faculty who are going to take part, what advice would you give them?

Bring a willingness to push your limits and learn to move beyond them. And good shoes!

Dr. Anna Plechata Krausova: X-tream training showed me that my limits are flexible

How did Rector Anna Plechatá Krausová experience the challenges of X-tream Management training? What impact did it have on her, and what benefits did she gain? You will find out in the interview.

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