"As he stepped off the map into uncharted territory, Meriwether Lewis discovered that what was in front of him was nothing like what was behind him and that what had brought him to this point in the journey would take him no farther. ... [Lewis was] looking for a water route, and they had run out of water. How do you canoe over mountains?"
From Canoeing the Mountains, Tod Bolsinger
Early in 2020, the DBD team decided to read Tod Bolsinger's "Canoeing the Mountains." Little did we know how relevant the lessons in this leadership book would be for our team as we worked with our clients to navigate this challenging year.
Bolsinger tells the story of Lewis and Clark's voyage west and uses their many experiences to teach lessons in adaptive leadership. One of the most striking lessons is "drop the paddle." They couldn't canoe over the mountains, after all, so they had to make the nerve-wracking decision to drop the gear that had gotten them that far, and continue on their mission in a completely different manner.
Rarely do leaders face such extreme challenges to their methods and plans, but the pandemic rendered the products and programs of countless organizations unusable.
But the mission remains. For those organizations who can take the chance to drop what no longer serves them, new opportunities to serve may reveal themselves.
In our latest DBD Podcast, Bruce Berglund speaks with a YMCA leader, Tim Joyce, about his own "drop the paddle" moments this year.
There's nothing easy about dropping strategies and tactics that have served you in the past. These stories are fun to tell in hindsight, but nerve wracking to lead through. If you can summon your own courage and inspire the same in your staff and volunteers, unexpected opportunities may await.
In the comments, tell us about a time you had to drop the paddle.