Thursday, July 23, 2015
The Mountains are Calling . . . Part 2
I'd grown up with people telling me that I was leader, but I never really believed them or wanted to believe them, at any rate. It was so much easier and less messy to just do what you were suppose to and not worry about what anyone else was doing. This course challenged me to step up and take responsibility for my piers as well as my own actions. NOLS strives to teach leadership skills through adventure. The definition of adventure being: an event or series of events that the out come is uncertain. Being in the backcountry with the highly unpredictable weather of the mountains as well as a number of high to low risk situations that are handed to you daily, such as: river crossings, sloppy navigation, dehydration or hypothermia set the stage for the perfect classroom, where the students were not given the luxury of falling asleep in class unless it would be to detriment of themselves, or of their fellow class mates.
All of these hazards if you will, helped to fine tune all number of leadership skills. As a part of the curriculum each of us had a turn being a Leader of the Day or a L.O.D. Here we were really front and center. As the L.O.D. we were responsible for getting our hiking group from point A to point B. We had to write a R.A.D plan which stand for Route And Description. This would entail figuring out how many miles we'd have to walk to our next "home" and how long it would take us to get there. As well as how we would go about making our way to the next point. All this was to ensure that we would not become lost.
I loved reading the maps, it felt like the world was at your finger tips. All the topography lines looked like works of art. It might of helped that our R.A.D plans were suppose to sound like a letter or a story, it played to my romantic side I suppose. So along with the writing of a R.A.D. plan it was your job as the leader of the day to give your team a hiking brief so everyone was on the same page.
While we hiked we could ask someone to navigate and lead, or if we felt competent enough we could do it ourselves. We had the right if you will as leader of the day to make final decisions (unless of course one of our instructions felt the need to intervene). It was hard learning that there was a fine line between knowing when it was prudent to take advise and prudent to stick to your guns. If you were open to learning from others and were willing to trust what you were taught the learning was endless. To end your day as the L.O.D. you have a debrief of the day, which would include asking your team how they thought you did as their leader and how you could improve in affirmation of your performance. As well as a general discussion of how everyone thought they did and how it effected the team in a positive or negative way.
This was the leadership skill I was most afraid of. For whatever reason I'd grown up alway doubting my decisions and choices. It was so easy for me to second guess myself. I didn't approach problem solving the same way most people did, so I was always comparing myself to everyone else to see how they did it and my conclusion was almost always that I was somehow doing it wrong.
As the course continued I learned to be comfortable with making decisions and feeling sure of them. I even became comfortable with apologizing for my mistakes and whats more I began to really enjoy taking care of my fellow teammates. Instead of not taking action because I was afraid what might happen or being worried about how someone else would handle the situation I was able to weigh the risks of what might happen to the likely hood that they would. For the first time in my life I was really start to feel comfortable with the person God made me to be. I was feeling confident and competent in my ability as a leader. I wasn't really afraid anymore.