World history bears the name of great men who challenged themselves in climbing the highest peaks. The hike to the top is always tough and needs you to push your limits. When we talk about hiking one great man’s name come to my mind – Edmund Hillary. He was was a theoretician in the 19s. But, he was world renowned for the first successful ascent and descent of Everest in 1953. Enough of the past history.
Today I am here to talk about the connection between hiking and Leadership. Mountains are the best analogy for you to picture what it will be like to be a leader. I believe there are quite a few connections between these two distinct tasks. Being a leader you go through several experiences that challenges your inner and outer behavior. You adapt to every situations to lead your people.
Yesterday I hiked Le Pouce Mountain. It is 812 m in height and has a prominence of 232 m, which makes it the third highest mountains in Mauritius.
The reason why i am writing this article is because I drew some important connections. Let me explain.
Fear nothing – Be strong upon the eyes of your team
We all have our fears. These fears that very often prevent us from moving forward and act as barriers. Leaders also have fears. Afterall, they are human as us – well to be confirmed. Leading the group to the peak requires that you actually know how to make it and that you make sure everyone is safe.
I hiked Le Pouce mountain several times but even though I know how to do it, I always fear to fall. When the wind blows and cold strokes your back, this let you know that you are human and that you can fall. Yes, I am always afraid while doing this part of the hike.
But leading a team is different. Yes leaders are human and they have fear like everyone of us. But, what I’ve learnt from this hike is that your team look up to you in times of doubts and fears. They want to know that you are here in case they don’t know how to do it. They trust you and you somehow built the confidence in them, one step at a time. On top of Le Pouce, I decided not to show my fear but rather made sure that everyone had the courage to make it to the top.
Know your fear and jump farther than you ever jumped before
Teach and let them do it their own way
One thing that you should know about hiking is that once you are on the mountain, you need to make sure the other mountaineers can climb down safely. When we reached the peak and enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment, it was time to do the descent. Either the ascent or the descent are difficult if you are doing it the first time. One rule, I’ve learnt from past experience is while hiking you need to be individuals and in a team.
Let me explain in this example – While climbing you need to cater for others’ safety and yours as well. One major rule of hiking is that you have to make sure that if someone is falling, he or she does not take all the others in the fall. The team part in it is that the Leader teaches you how to do it. You know the step and the move so you can manage to do the descent. The individual part is whereby you need to do it on your own. Of course, the Leader is here to guide you but the descent is on your own. One thing I also noticed is that appreciation of efforts is a real confidence boost-up.
Keep going if you believe it is right
During the descent, we came to a point where we had to choose between two tracks. The left one was shorter but I didn’t know it. The right one was longer but I knew the track. I knew each and every milestones that had to be crossed to reach the mountain’s feet. In Mauritius, we have a lot of mimosa (Feuille sensitive). These were my assurance of the right track.
Making choices requires that you also think of your team. The moment you show doubts in your choices, you lose the confidence of your team. The right track had some steep part which gives the impression that you are climbing the mountain again. Sometimes you make choices and at the beginning the end result doesn’t seem to be the wanted one. But you know this choice will eventually lead to it. As a leader, you are here to make sure that you respond to the doubts of your people without showing yours.
Be sure of your choices make your people safe and keep going.
Hike this mountain and Lead your people
There are many more connections between hiking and leadership. As i’ve written above mountains are the best analogy to the experience you have while being a Leader. Hiking has a lot to teach to us. We have an unending supply of great peaks during our journey as a leader. Somehow as soon a peak is scaled, another higher and harder one is unveiled. Each peak has its own lessons to teach us.
Good Luck in your peak climbing journey. Care for your people and Learn.
By Bholanauth Jason