Imagine yourself waist deep in rushing, frigid October water as you traverse a majestic river. Tethered on a safety line, you nervously find your footing against the bedrock deep beneath the foam-soiled current, as your adventure team encourages you onward, “you’re doing great, keep it up, you are almost there!” With each step, erasing the fears of plunging into the river, you find an inner calm and mental strength that seems to lift you thru to the other side.
This is one vivid memory of my hike through the Cape Breton Highlands many years ago. A memory of an adventure that helped me find my management mojo. ‘My mojo’ or what could be described as a personal power that is so magical it allows you to overcome great challenge and adversity. It’s the kind of positive power – self-aware and self-actualized – business managers call upon everyday .
An outdoor adventure experience can be a profound metaphor for the process of navigating an organization in today’s global business environment. Whether you are traversing a river, canoeing a lake or hiking in the back-country, an organized expedition can test your personal and professional competencies, create a deeper understanding of team dynamics and teach you strategies to navigate new and challenging environments.
7 management mojo lessons I discovered thru outdoor adventure:
- Like that of today’s business environment being outdoors requires you to find comfort in being uncomfortable. Adventure travel places you in new situations to enhance your mental agility and problem solving skills that are transferable to everyday challenges. Learning to adapt, be creative and seek new ways to navigate through obstacles in the outdoors mirrors the disciplines required to lead an organization through uncertain and unforeseeable times, especially in today’s business world of accelerated change and disruption.
- As managers it’s imperative that we not place ourselves above others and demonstrate our authentic humility. When working with business teams, as with outdoor expedition groups, we constantly need to keep our ego in check and be authentic about our skills and knowledge. Experiencing the vastness and complexity of the natural environment, dynamics of our outdoor team and coming to terms with our limitations aid in teaching us a humility that can be an asset in our work-life everyday.
- As you paddle a river or hike the foothills, demonstrating perseverance in the face of adversity is a daily requirement. Having the self-determination to pick yourself up when you fail or when you haven’t yet achieved your goal calls on your inner strength and persistence to work through challenges. Having the fortitude to face natural obstacles can teach you personal strategies to work through situations found in business.
- Individuals have differing strengths that contribute to the success of your outdoor group or business team. Capitalizing on the group strength and skill is paramount in managing the rigors of travel, group maintenance, emotional well-being and the obstacles of a team. Similarly, in business today we seek ways to play to the strength of our teams and collaborate across functional groups to move the organization forward.
- A common core competency required of managers today is organizational awareness. One cannot succeed by building departmental silos nor ignore the impact our decisions and actions have on the whole of a business. Through outdoor adventure travel individuals learn that their actions or inactions can have profound impact on the well-being of the group, the success of the expedition or the health of the environment. An adventurer can gain a profound understanding that acting alone, without consideration of others and the project/expedition/business, can place everyone in a tenuous circumstance that has real-life consequence.
- Today we often hear business references to organizational ecosystems. The concept of interdependence is critical today in our digital environment and when creating high performing organizations. It’s my belief, the more time we spend in the outdoor world and better understand its ecosystems, the better we understand our role as stewards, the fragility of the businesses we build and the connectivity we have to our global environment.
- Choosing to attend to team health, working apart from the group or choosing to travel beyond the pace of the group all have inherent risks and natural consequences. Your assuming responsibility and accountability for the decisions you make has a direct impact on the group achieving any shared goal. Learning to embrace your responsibility of self and others while on an adventure expedition likens to the responsibility business managers have when tackling projects or moving the enterprise forward.
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