Experiencing My Own Lessons

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward -Vernon Law.

One of the reasons I loved this program was because of the experiential learning component. Learning from my own mistakes have produced the most impactful and life long lessons. Here are a few key life-long lessons I learned during my 10 day trek in the Himalayas.

  • Take Preparation Seriously: Packing for this trip was particularly stressful. Why do we need 36 water tablets? Why do I need all this sunscreen? 3 bandanas? Gloves? Lip Balm? It wasn’t until during the trek I realized the importance of all these tools. I ended up suffering from sun poisoning on my hands, ran out of sunscreen, and had to use gloves to protect my hands. Additionally my lips are pretty inflamed right now due to my neglect to apply lip balm. If you don’t prep properly, you will face struggles that could have otherwise been avoided.
  • Look Up! More often than not I go through life simply looking towards the end goal. This causes me to miss out on a lot of beauty around me. During the hike I had a lot of opportunities to appreciate nature which caused me to feel energized and recharged for my next steps.

After completing the trek, I also gained a new appreciation for different leadership perspectives. One in particular that stood out to me was servant leadership. The porters who accompanied us on our trek displayed exceptional traits of servant leaders. Not only did they prep and prepare our food for us each night, but also surveyed dangerous snow capped mountains and carved foot holes for us to walk across. Their dedication to the service of their followers (our group) inspired me to do the same when I am in a position of leadership.

Personally, there are many things I could be doing to improve as a leader. Three things specifically:

  1. Learn to Listen: A lot of times I neglect to take in feedback and input from all group members. I tend to quickly move ahead assuming my ideas are mostly correct.
  2. Collect More Information: Most of the mistakes I have made have come as a result of moving too quickly.
  3. Relate to Followers More: Lack of proper communication has been the demise of many teams I’ve been in.

Keeping an open mind, I will strive to continually learn and grow as a leader. In order to apply these improvements to my own leadership development, I’ve thought of a few specific things:

  • I will strive to take into consideration the ideas and opinions of others more. Not only that, but will make it a point to seek out those who have not spoken up.
  • As a leader, I will work to improve my appetite for accuracy and information before making decisions. I will stop and ask myself: ‘Is there more data that I can collect?’
  • I will make it a point to establish trustworthy relationships with my followers. Developing these types of connections will help me better understand where their strengths can be used with the group. Additionally I will employ the SBI feedback model (situation, behavior, impact).

Having this experience is invaluable and has provided me with many leadership tools and algorithms that I will refer to for the rest of my journey in leadership.