It was challenging for me to not see my son, Luke, as he began attending Purdue University a few years ago which is about two hours away from where we live. I found that I really had to communicate so much more and more clearly to continue to influence him.
So Ross, a close friend of mine and amazing endurance junky, threw a question at me late last fall and asked, “Do you want to do a road bike ride with me this spring?”. Now I had not ridden a road bike since I was in elementary school, but did ride quite a bit with my Dad back then. I had actually acquired my Dad’s old Miyata touring bike from him just before this and because I always like a challenge, I said, “sure”...
I met former Marine Sergeant the last adventure trip that my son and I went on to West Virginia. He and his daughter were avid rock climbers and through discussion he discovered that we were going to be bouldering, but not rock climbing because we didn't have the gear to climb. He immediately invited us to climb with he and his daughter the following day; we definitely took him up on it. He let us use his gear and so I put the harness on, the shoes and then listened as he reminded me of how the carabiners and rope all worked. I locked in and then looked at him and said "climbing" and he looked back at me and said "belaying". I turned to the 70' wall, looked up at it to strategize on the path that I would take, lifted my foot and hand to the first foothold and handhold and off I went.
I read a quote by Ben Franklin the other day and it really got me thinking about life. He said, "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I learn. Involve me and I remember." Ben's quote made me think about how much time I let pass quickly by when I have not intentionally given those I'm leading the opportunity to gain experiences, even experiences that may push them outside of their comfort zone. I also thought how many experiences when those who have led me went without intentionally asking if I could be included in order for me to gain knowledge through the experience.
It was after my freshman year in college at Maine Maritime Academy when I went on a Navy summer deployment to fulfill my NROTC commitment and scholarship. This deployment was a two week excursion on a 42' sailboat that a Lieutenant (LT) and six Cadets sailed from Newport, Rhode Island to Castine, Maine. I had sailed before with my family and had taken sailing for a Physical Education class in my first semester. I knew how to sail, but I had never experienced anything like what I did off the coast of Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.
Are you comfortable with risky or edgy situations? As a leader, should you be? If you were, would it help you become a better leader? I have to say that I love a good challenge and if there is risk involved, then I love it even more. I don't know why I love risk so much. It could have been the influence of my brother when I was young as we repelled out of 70-foot oak trees. It could have been the influence from my time in college when I jumped off of 40-foot cliffs in Horseshoe Beach, Bermuda. It could have been the influence from my time in the Marine Corps where we did all sorts of training with guns and explosives. What I do know is that all of this "risky" experience has helped me understand that when you take risks, there are rewards that come with them. This not only helped prepare me for life's risks ahead, but also for taking on risks when I think it is most important: when I am leading people.