Monday, January 16, 2012

Learning From Leadership

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. John F. Kennedy

I lead a lot of trips, both summer and winter, for my local outdoor club, for a variety of reasons. Being retired, I have the time and energy to put in. I also know that I would never have developed my own outdoor skills without mentoring by other volunteer trip leaders in other places at other times. So, some of my apparent "altruism" is motivated by paying back to a community that generously donated to me. There is great camaraderie found in the mountains, and my entire social network is drawn from the outdoors. But, I also find I learn a lot when I lead club trips, much more than if I did the same trip with one or two trusted friends.

When I am out with one or two friends, my trips frequently fall into the "recreation" category (see graph below). While on club trips, because of the extra responsibility of moving a group through the mountains and coaching less experienced people, my trips move up into the "adventure" category. Recreating in the adventure zone is rewarding because your skills are challenged but not to such an overwhelming degree that you end up having an epic.

I've written before about how spending time with newcomers to a sport is great for improving your own skill set and knowledge base. The same goes for club trips. Participants are generally attending a trip (at least one of my trips) because we are tackling some objective that they wouldn't be comfortable doing on their own. Seeing the terrain through their eyes can be a great learning experience if you can let the blinkers drop from your own eyes and admit you don't know everything.
We are best challenged in the adventure zone

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