When Leaders Get Lost

Here’s a story about navigating — and getting lost — in the wilderness.

My step-dad was an experienced backpacker and would lead two, sometimes three families out into the high sierras for a week of backpacking.

It’s a lot of responsibility, getting people prepared to survive out in the elements, not to mention families with young children.

My step-dad would give us packing lists, shopping lists, and would plan out the location and pick the trail for us to hike to get to our base camp.

As we started out on the trail, we were full of energy, even though we knew it would be a trek in the heat with heavy packs, we were ready for the adventure.

Sometimes the path he’d marked out on the map would be straightforward and easy, but other times we’d be walking and walking and walking and not seem to get to where we were supposed to be going.

We kept asking my dad, “Are we close? When will we get there?”

And his classic line was, “It’s just over the next rise.”

Sometimes it took 4 or 5 “rises” for us to get to our base camp, but he just kept saying, “It’s just over the next rise.”

He was our leader.

We trusted him.

And we always got there safely, even if sometimes it took us longer to get there than planned.

As the leader of your mission, you might sometimes feel lost, like the map and trail you’re walking don’t align with each other.

You might have people behind you, following you, and it’s your job to keep them motivated, in momentum, and holding the vision of where you’re going.

You might feel tired, weary or uncertain, but here is what I know …

When leaders lose their way, they aren’t truly lost, they might just need to re-calibrate and course-correct.

What makes them leaders is that they stay focused or get re-focused; remain calm; seek counsel; take breaks; refuel; trust; and hold tight to the vision of where they’re going — even if the trail seems to take them in a different direction.

Here are some of my tips for you if you are a leader who may feel like you’ve lost your way a little bit (especially coming out of Mercury retrograde — and if you’re like me, you’re especially sensitive).

  • Get quiet and turn off external noise — go inward, meditate, turn off the news, your FB feed, do breathing exercises
  • Listen — listen to your body, listen to your heart, listen for what feels true from the inside
  • Get grounded — practice gratitude daily by writing in a journal, breathe in the world around you and feel how beautiful it is (even when “lost” on the trail, there is infinite beauty on all sides); do grounding exercises and see yourself growing roots deep into the core of the earth; see yourself like a tree with deep, expansive roots
  • Trust and have faith, knowing that being “lost” is temporary, and you will get to where you’re going when you remain locked on your destination — the vision of what you’re creating and building.
  • Refocus on what you have to give. Leaders serve, and practicing gratitude reminds you of how much you are supported and how much you have to give; how generous you can be to the people you are meant to serve as you lead them down the path to their own destination.

I hope this has helped you if you are a leader who feels lost.

Your destination is just over the next rise …

If you are reading this and you are a woman who is leading a company, team or movement with a mission of improving the lives of those around you, I invite you to join the Creative Impact Studio — an invitation-only group for women leaders like you.

Along with the tips I’ve mentioned above, it’s also a great idea to surround yourself with like-minded people who can remind you which direction you’re going when you get off course.

Here’s your personal invitation.

Tagged as: backpacking, Creative Impact Studio, encouragement, faith, fatherly advice, hope, leadership, mission, momentum, servant leader, survival, trust, wilderness, women leaders, women’s leadership


Originally published at www.taraagacayak.com on September 5, 2017.