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  • Keith Shaw

Leading Yourself-Lessons from the top of the Black Tusk

Last year I enjoyed a weekend by hiking to, and climbing a prominent peak on Canada's west coast called the Black Tusk. It was a great trip and I was reminded along the way of several lessons this type of experience can provide. I share with you my top five lessons a leader can learn from challenge in the outdoors:

1.    Preparation is key: When opportunity comes up, you need to be ready. Now I don't hike every day or run hills in specific preparation for climbing but I do keep fit. Preparation, for whatever you see yourself accomplishing next allows for confidence and calm when presented with opportunity. Instead of being scared of saying yes, your fear can turn to excitement as you look forward to your chance to challenge yourself. Can you learn that new skill, take a course or study up on an area of management that may lead to opportunity? If so, start now!

2.    Teamwork is powerful: When faced with a challenge, having someone there with you does wonders to push you along. During our hike the Tusk seemed so far away. At one point it was 3 pm and we were still hours from reaching the summit. John and I both had our doubts about completion but together we had the determination to continue putting one foot in front of the other. I know that I would not have pushed to the top without a trusted partner encouraging me. Who is your champion? Do you need to change your inner circle to get one?

3.    Clear goals makes life easier: Creating milestones in your personal life or at work can build your confidence to challenge other areas. Hiking this mountain, a clear goal, made the preparation so much easier. Little projects around the big goal like getting to the camp, time checks, equipment needed were very intuitive. What can you do to help see a few simple goals or a future picture that can inform, naturally the steps (little projects) you can take to achieve it?

4.    Celebrate your accomplishments: John and I had steak and whiskey waiting for us back at the camp upon completion of the hike. Taking time to recognize the achievement is important. In the moment the camp meal was a great way to reward ourselves for a job well done. Long term, I can always look at the Black Tusk and be reminded of my accomplishing the feat. Be sure to the hang that trophy, take the time and reward yourself for reaching your goals.

5.    Enjoy the journey: In total, we spent about 10 minutes of 11 hours of hiking at the top of the Black Tusk. A few pictures a whoop cheer and we were on our way down. Focus on the goal is paramount but it is possible and necessary to keep your eyes open along the way. Is the weather changing? Is it a good idea to forge ahead? Also, though, and most importantly, from the shopping trip Friday, to the lunch at the pub on Sunday, we were able to enjoy the scenery, each other’s company and the social interaction with the other hikers in the park and not just the few minutes at the top.

If you feel your life runs together, like time passes without milestones and accomplishments make a change! There are opportunities to serve your community, explore your passion and make a difference at your work/home. Decide and then dive in with these five practices in mind and no doubt you’ll approach your mission with more energy, and look back with more clarity on the job done and what’s next.