Beyond the Battle: Lessons Learned from a Game of Paintball at our Staff Retreat 2023

June 12, 2023

Some of the UNDP Namibia staff pictured before the paintballing activity in Swakopmund

Frieda Lukas

In the realm of team-building, office retreats and reflection moments, few experiences can match the adrenaline-fueled intensity of a game of paintball. As colourful, round, projectiles whiz through the air and my UNDP teammates strategized to outmanoeuvre their opponents, our playful paintball experience became more than just a thrilling game—for me, it was a mirror reflecting powerful lessons of teamwork, leadership, and collaboration. In this reflection blog, I’d like to share some reflections on how a game of paintball can foster camaraderie while offering invaluable insights into the organisational culture and dynamics that drive successful team work and play.

Teamwork: United We Stand

Paintball is a game where the strength of the team is paramount. No individual can triumph alone; it requires a coordinated effort. Similarly, in our daily lives, and importantly, at work,  achieving success often relies on effective teamwork. The paintball exercise taught us the importance of communication, trust, and synchronised actions. As we learnt how to work in harmony, drawing on our strengths (rather than our weaknesses) and by supporting each other, we experienced the transformative power of collective action. Indeed this is something that could help us achieve the lofty aspirations of meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Leadership: The Art of Influence

In the chaos of a paintball battlefield, leadership emerges as a crucial element for success. We observed that effective leaders were the ones that inspired, guided, and made quick decisions under pressure. They created a vision, strategized, delegated tasks, and motivated their team members. To many, paintball highlights the significance of strong leadership and the impact it can have on team performance. It reminded us that leaders are not just those in positions of authority, but individuals who can influence others through their actions, communication, and strategic thinking.

Collaboration: Leveraging Diverse Perspectives

The paintball teams comprised individuals with diverse skills, backgrounds, and strengths. To win the game, we also observed that the teams that harnessed and utilised these capabilities effectively were the most successful. The experience encouraged collaboration, encouraged teammates to recognise and leverage each other's unique abilities. The key takeaway for us was that by embracing diverse perspectives and combining our strengths, we will unlock new ideas to solve challenges and co-create creative solutions. Paintball teaches us the value of collaboration and the rewards that come from embracing diversity.

Communication: The Key to Success

Paintball thrives on effective communication. It requires clear and concise exchanges of information, whether it's relaying enemy positions, coordinating attacks, or providing cover fire. Similarly, in any team setting, communication is vital for successful outcomes. Clear and open communication fosters trust, minimises misunderstandings, and ensures that everyone is on the same page. Paintball reminds us of the power of effective communication and the role it plays in achieving shared objectives.

Adaptability: Navigating Changing Dynamics

For paintball aficionados, any game is unpredictable, with constantly shifting scenarios and unexpected challenges. The ability to adapt swiftly and make strategic decisions on the fly is crucial. This mirrors real-life situations at the workplace and the need to reflect the aspirations of our Strategic Plan, where agility and adaptability are essential for success. Paintball teaches us to embrace change, think on our feet, and remain focused even when faced with unforeseen obstacles.


Beyond its exhilarating nature, all four paintball rounds during our recent staff retreat held valuable lessons.  These were insights for teamwork, communication, adaptability, leadership, and collaboration. Paintball provides a unique platform to experience first-hand the dynamics that drive successful teams. As paintball participants, we emerged with a newfound appreciation for the power of teamwork, the influence of effective leadership, and the significance of collaboration, competition and communication. 

How would you use the lessons of any competitive game (such as paintball) beyond the “battlefield” and apply them to your personal and professional lives, fostering camaraderie, and building stronger, more cohesive teams?