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Leadership Lessons from the Trail

For those of you who know me, I have just tackled the West Coast Trail - for the second time. Some call me crazy, but it was a wonderful time with my fabulous sis, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Some of you know that my quest to complete the trail was foiled by a fall and injury. Nothing life-threatening, fortunately. I ended before the end of the trail, with only a bruised ego and backside.

But what about Leadership? How is hiking related to Leadership? I think that I returned with five leadership lessons. Here they are:

1. Keeping your eyes on your goal can take you away from living in the present.

As leaders, we need to remember that the lessons learned along the way add to our "toolbox" of experiences. Exploring the lessons will be useful later on. I discovered every day that if I did not keep my eyes on my path, I was certainly going to stumble and fall. Being in the present, keeping our big goal in mind was a constant reminder.

2. Having a trusted advisor is invaluable.

Let's face it, being a leader can be pretty lonely. Sometimes it is hard to know who you can trust along the way. Having a leadership coach allows you to test ideas, vent, and move forward in your leadership journey to realize your leadership goals. As we hiked, we relied on one another for companionship, laughter and a shared experience. It was absolutely the best!

3. Nothing great is ever accomplished without hard work.

As a leader, there will be lots of sweat and work to realize your goals. Working with your team, however big or small, is only accomplished when you work together and pull in the same direction. This can be a struggle, but the end result is wonderful!

As we were hiking, our hard work before and during our hike was rewarded by beautiful vistas, mud pits, ladders, bridges, water crossings, roots, animals, and tenting adventures. We certainly pulled together!

4. Taking time to rest and re-group is essential to moving forward.

Keeping yourself whole and balanced as a leader is often our biggest leadership challenge. Work can take us away from those life choices that we know are right for us, but we put aside. Scheduling time for family, fitness and a good night's sleep pay off in the work-place. Often leaders feel that they have to be heroes, and work harder and longer, to achieve business goals. But the outcome is an unbalanced life, illness and family strife. My sis and I found two adriondack chairs along the path, and took time to sit and relax, and left invigorated. We even enjoyed the antics of a pod of whales! Amazing!

5. Sometimes, you just have to make unanticipated decisions.

Wouldn't it be great if leadership was a straight path to success? If budget cuts, lay-offs, bottom lines and other pressures did not exist? I'm not sure we would actually need leaders if that was our reality! Leaders need to be able to keep the bottom line in mind, while still being flexible and moving forward. Communication during change is a huge part of the leader's work. When I decided that I could not go further on the hike safely, it was a huge disappointment to me. However, considering all of the variables, that seemed the best decision. There is always next time.....

Check out my hiking photos. Black Ink can help you work with your team, bring balance, and live in the present to become an extraordinary leader. Contact me for a free 30 minute coaching conversation to see the difference a leadership coach can make to you!

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