I recently returned from a weekend getaway with one of the excursions being a 2.5 mile roundtrip hike to an area called Paradise Meadows, within the Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park. During the trip several truisms regarding organizational and people change became readily apparent.
- Have a compelling vision in mind, and make it as clear as possible. Several of us had hiked to Paradise Meadows before and, when several on our group started asking, “Is this place really worth the climb?” or “What can I expect when we get there?”, we had ready answers to share how the location looked, how far they had traveled in comparison to the goal to gauge progress, and details that described why the location was aptly named Paradise.
- Leadership is needed to navigate the trail and monitor the pace. During our trek someone always took the lead; whether they did this co-jointly with someone else or not was unimportant. Yes, the path may be clear, but with any type of group activity, having someone in front to lead the way, shout out what’s coming up and prepare the others for hazards ahead (i.e., downed trees) ensures group progress is made. Additionally, they can monitor if the pace needs to be increased, such as during flat spots, or slowed down to allow for slower steps and energy conservation during steep elevation rises.
- Provide the opportunity for group feedback and input. People must take responsibility for their own change needs, and be provided space and support to voice their personal and informational needs. In hiking, people have to be responsible for monitoring water levels and replenishing, bio breaks in the woods, or giving the group notice that a short rest break will be needed soon.
- Have coaches and mentors along the way to support development. People with more knowledge and experience need to provide coaching and development support at key junctures. In our case, when those of us who were slower needed reminders to breathe in through the nose and out from the mouth, to just take one step at a time and not think about how steep the grade, and holler if a rest break was needed.
- Recognize and encourage those who have even further to go. When you are in the midst of change it may feel like everyone is at the same spot you are. If you look around though, you will notice that there are lots of people just beginning the journey, as well as many already finishing. After enjoying Paradise Meadows, we started back down the trail. We came across a group and several looked up to us and asked about the path ahead, what we knew, and how close they were to the destination. One of my friends, sensing their exhaustion and remembering her own struggle shared, “If I could get up there, believe me, so can you. You’ll just love the view, and don’t forget to stop at the crashing creek. You’ll know you’re more than three-quarters of the way done!”
What change are you going through that you can apply these truisms? Remember, regardless of your skill and knowledge level, you have the support of others as well as the ability to offer your help to others along the change journey.