Let the Fun Begin!
My family went camping in Pennsylvania in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains. Close to the campsite was a natural waterslide. This waterslide was the result of years of erosion as the water ran down the side of the mountain over the rocks with enough force to carve out the natural waterslide.
After a brief hike, we came upon the clearing where the waterslide began. It was early enough in the summer that the water was still flowing rapidly and providing a wild adventure down the slide. There were several other families enjoying the unique experience so we paused to watch how they were navigating the waters and the slide. My daughter stood there mesmerized by the water and the people. My husband looking at all of our faces volunteered to go down first. We watched as he navigated across the rocks until he got just above the entrance to the slide. As he lowered himself into the water, the water quickly pulled him right along and down he went. When he got back to us, he quickly told us of areas that we needed to be cautious about and how to navigate better. After a few minutes, my daughter looked at my husband and said, “You go again and I’ll go right behind you.” This was followed closely by my young son quickly grabbing my hand and asking if we could go down together.
With my son on my lap and a hand around his waist, we lowered ourselves into the slide. Our adventure began! The water was quite cold but we quickly forgot it as we began navigating the twists and turns down the slide. This was no smooth yellow slide like we find at aquatic center. The rock was rougher in some places and jagged in others, but ended with a smooth drop into a pool of water. As soon as we were done, my son scrambled back up to the top and went down on his own. We spent several hours playing in the river and going down the slide. It was a wonderful adventure.
Our trip down the waterslide is analogous to our journey as leaders. We are all leaders but happen to approach our roles a bit differently. Some of us are bold and brave like my husband. We are willing to take the first step and help others navigate the project. Others of us are growing as leaders like my daughter. We like to experience new things, but appreciate a little guidance before taking on the role. Some of us are hesitant like my son. We don’t want to admit we are leaders or even think we can be a leader, but with encouragement we will get there.
As we lead, we often encounter rough patches. We make mistakes or get in over our heads. When this happens, we learn from others, ask questions and hone our skills. As we lead, we will encounter sharp turns. We may take on a new role as our organization faces necessary changes. When this happens, we learn to adjust, to see things from a different perspective and to celebrate the new adventure. As we lead, we will also encounter places of comfort. We find places where our knowledge and expertise are valued and needed. When this happens, we seek to share our knowledge and help someone else.
Where are you on your leadership journey?