While rowing our boats gently down the stream is a great way to sample life as a dream, leaders know that their craft is often tethered to reality. Luckily, for creative learners, being on the river provides amazing opportunities to explore and experience effective leadership. From the river itself to the teamwork involved in getting a raft through the rapids, there are abundant “Ah-Ha!” moments to enjoy. We have chosen ten of our favorites to share with you this Monday morning.
- Know the Flow: We don’t have to “go with the flow” but we do have to know its direction. Working against the current can be important when getting in proper position or slowing down, though pointlessly pushing upstream is pure folly. We are able to adjust our course and work more effectively when we are aware of how things are trending.
- And Also, Going With It Can Be A Good Idea: There are those times when we act almost without thinking, when we are in total synch with our team, the situation and our selves. These moments of “flow” remind us that there is a place from which we can lead with almost effortless grace, but first we have to find and believe in it. Unplugging, practicing mindfulness, physical activity, tuning into our bodies; there are abundant ways to discover the flow when we take time to practice.
- It’s Where We’re Headed That Counts: One of the great things about river travel is that there really is no getting lost. Sure, we might not know exactly where we are, but we can rest assured that we’re headed downstream. Great leaders keep their teams moving in the direction of their shared goal, even if there are times when no one is exactly sure where they are in the process.
- We Can Lead Effectively From Behind: Guides, the people who are “leading” the rafts and passengers, usually sit behind the crowd. This seat provides the best pivot point for directing the action. Great leaders are able to position themselves so that their actions are most effective, even if that means taking a back seat.
- Less Can Be More: Sometimes the slightest ribbon of water is better than the big torrent of spring’s melt; it’s all that’s needed to keep the team moving happily along. While we are constantly bludgeoned with messages endorsing a more is more mentality, we are seeing that this leads to problems (stress, obesity, fatigue, etc). We can do better by figuring out what is truly needed for a happy float through life and go with that.
- Steady Perseverance Always Wins: What can be accomplished with a steady, persistent force is overwhelming (seen the Grand Canyon?). Leaders know when to be forceful and when to back off. The important thing is be consistent with clear perseverance and absolute focus; with these practices, anything is possible.
- We’re All In the Same Boat: Anyone who has been on a paddle raft knows how important teamwork is for being successful. Navigating rapids requires communication, commitment, vision and action from every person. Success (or something else) depends on everyone.
- Perspective is Everything: Rapids can be exciting, but they also pose a clear danger to boaters. Competent paddlers see them as a highlight, though one that usually ends more quickly than they would like. For the nervous or novice boater, rapids can be a teeth rattling sufferfest that might result in a flip, pin, swim or some combination of undesired events. For this person, the rapids can’t end soon enough. Same situation, different perspectives, each with it’s value, each deserving of respect.
- Beauty is Everywhere: Even though the surrounding landscape might include desolate plains, oil derricks or suburban housing, river corridors create their own zones of awe and beauty. We can look along the narrow corridor of our lives and find inspiration in a sunset, some flowers or our loved ones.
- All Rivers Go To the Same Place: Ultimately, all rivers are moving towards a greater body of water. In some ways, people are the same. The one thing we all share is that a day will come when our life force moves on. Along the way, we can choose to share our journey and increase our experience of this life like rivers that join and deepen.
Please share your river wisdom with us. We will be sure to pass on the knowledge. Did I mention that we offer Leadership for the Long Term programs on the river….