Traditional Polar Bear Jump

Today’s guest entry is by our Jordanian participant, Mohammad Alsele.

One of the reasons I chose IMD to do my MBA was its focus on leadership where it consistently ranks high on this scale. Our Leadership stream started last week, and it’s been an exciting learning process. One of the concepts that came up during the lectures is that our MBA experience is an immersive one that is uncommon in the sense that the personal and professional lives of all the cohort are closely linked and integrative. We are forming professional teams for the coursework we have, and at the same time forming social groups around various interests and affinities. Such an experience might not happen in other schools where cohorts are considerably larger.

One of those social and affinity creating activities is a tradition that was started few years ago, which we call the Polar Bear Jump, where we take a plunge in the cold waters of Lac Léman during January.

It’s something I never imagined myself doing, and was quite skeptical about taking part in it when I first found about it. I’m not an experienced swimmer and was worried something might go wrong because of the thermal shock. However, I liked the idea of trying something new, after all, this year is about new learnings and experiences; I shouldn’t miss out on any chance to experience something new and exciting that will create memories with my classmates and develop our bonds. While organizing the details of the jump, I voiced my concerns but received lots of support and encouragement. Some colleagues took similar dives in the past and a couple of others are trained life guards. They were available to take care of the less experienced ones should the need arise

During the discussion of the jump, came the idea of increasing awareness of environmental changes and creating a fundraiser to support real polar bears. Their natural habitat is shrinking and that reduces their opportunities to feed and reproduce. Again, there was an overwhelming support from the class to the idea, and I realize that despite the diverse backgrounds that each of us bring to the program we have a lot in common. Awareness and the desire to give back to communities are positive traits that we share.

The date for our jump was set and we were lucky that it was one of the warmer days of January. We met at IMD campus, all excited and looking forward to a new experience, some of our colleagues and partners joined us for moral support and some partners even took part with us. You could sense the high level of energy by the lake side on that day, our shouts and screams echoed all around.

When the moment came, I hesitated for a few moments but I had trust in my colleagues and that nothing would go wrong. I took the plunge and it was an amazing feeling of euphoria and – may I add – a little pride. I did something new that I never imagined doing.

Here’s a glimpse at the jump!

My personal learnings from this experience are not to shy away from new experiences and that our motivation is within ourselves.

Mohammad