Day 1, Yosemite National Park:
I’m out hiking in Yosemite National Park with my wife, Jill, and 24-year-old son, Dylan. This is the first leg of a three leg trip beginning in San Francisco at a workshop, morphing into four nights in Yosemite and culminating with three nights at Sequoia National Park, probably my favorite and most spiritual national park. The last time we visited these parks Dylan was 12 and his brother 8. I, of course, was in 12 years better shape.
I’m somewhat new to blogging, but when my partner Eddie saw some photos I sent, (spotty internet has made it’s way to the land of John Muir) he suggested I blog. When we started this blog I promised to only write about things worth sharing with “my tribe,” those of you on a path to be the best you can be and exploring the boundaries of what we call leadership.
We arrived after midnight and settled into our tent cabin after a five hour drive into the mountains. It was a long drive at the end of a long last day of my workshop. But as a fellow attendee reminded me, I would be waking up in Yosemite. And so we did, part of a small tented village awakening to stunning views of Half Dome and the canyon walls mirrored in the morning sun. The theme of the day was unfolding: change.
Posters in the shuttles weaving through the valley floor reminded us of how change is a part of the natural rhythm of life, including the human coexistence with Yosemite from early times through today. As I rode the hybrid bus I admit being a bit surprised by this Zen-like acceptance from the service entrusted with preserving this natural beauty (from ourselves, no less). My relationship with Yosemite and Sequoia went back to the “70’s when I lived in California and made regular pilgrimages to these wonders of nature. I had seen change and been changed since then. The image of my 24-year-old son bounding ahead of us on our first hike to Lower Yosemite Falls was a jolt of irony. I was his age when I first leapt those boulders in my youth. Now I was the old man hearing yelps of,“look at me!” But still there was the same twinkle and smile. And like Half Dome reflected in Mirror Lake, it was hard to tell the reflection from the source.
As leaders we are always confronted with the boulders of change. Do we leap on them with enthusiasm or bemoan the detour? Do we bound up and see what the new vantage point reveals, or hunker more closely to the path and just try to maintain? Do we notice the details that would otherwise be missed, like the miniature bits of perfection along a path to somewhere else? Do we stop and reflect?
What change is hovering over YOUR horizon? Notice your usual way of addressing change and consider at least two other approaches and the possibilities they could reveal. Feel free to share your thoughts.
Nature has been more than graceful in leading the way for dealing with change. Her commitment unwavering, she takes change in stride. Through floods, fires, rockslides and human intrusion that commitment to life prevails. It is said that if human beings “destroy the planet” they will only destroy their own ability to survive on it. But nature will maintain her commitment and do just fine.
It’s that relationship between change and commitment that might be the leadership lesson for us to reflect on. Does our commitment give us tunnel vision in the face of change or do we hold it as a context and let life unfold within it? Look for that inquiry later in my journey.