Mobilization Monday: Paddling to Engagement

I used to have a job leading wilderness camping trips for high school students. Canoeing, biking, hiking, kayaking, rafting, we travelled to some of the country’s most remote and scenic places.

One of the most challenging trips I ever led was a 4-week sea kayaking trip to Southeast Alaska. Planning and preparing for the trip took months. We studied maps, talked to outfitters, researched the weather, the tides, the best places to camp. We crafted emergency protocols, planned menus, designed the pre-trip orientation, recruited participants, calmed the fears of nervous parents, and practiced our own backcountry skills.

The trip went beautifully.

On our final day of paddling back to civilization I found myself in a conversation with one of our most vocal students. He was reflecting on our month together in the wilderness and asked if I knew what his favorite part of the experience had been. I didn't so he told me.

“The very best part of this trip has been that we did all this OURSELVES!”

I think about this story often in my work helping clients achieve what they set out to achieve. What conditions need to be present to help people contribute at the very top end of their potential?

It’s the question I’ve spent my career trying to answer.