A Return to Lewis & Clark for the 21st. Century

Lemhi Dawn 12 9-16-04Many of the pictures that I post on my blog posts and at my Facebook page have been taken as I have traveled parts of the trail of Lewis & Clark trail.

From August of 2004 through December of 2006, I published a weblog called, Lewis & Clark for the 21st Century. There I posted on the leadership of Lewis & Clark as the first 21st century leadership team. As the bicentennial celebration ended, I ended my posting, but not my interest.

Now through the encouragement of Joe Mussulman, creator of Discovering Lewis & Clark, I am returning to blog on the story. My latest post explains my multiple purposes in doing so.

I hope you will subscribe to Lewis & Clark for the 21st Century. There will be more there than just a retelling of the story. Their experience will be a stepping stone to an exploration of many themes relevant to where we are today. Please share with your friends and colleagues. I look forward to our discussions.


The Journey and The Guide

Chitral-Gilgit district border

Almost 30 years ago, I spent a summer with other students traveling the back roads of the NorthWest Frontier Province of Pakistan working with a refugee relief agency. The best times for our journey came with the interaction with people when we were on foot, walking, where time and proximity brought us together. Sometimes it was to share a meal, sometimes just a chat over a cup of tea, sometimes just to ask directions.  Especially along roads like the one here, we asked, what's up ahead? How far to Mastuj?  Where's a good place for a meal in Chitral?

I share this because it informs me about what we mean when we talk about life and work being a journey. 

It is a common thought that life is a journey, not a destination.

We say this because life has ceased to be predictable, certain and secure. It is much more a process of discovering what we need to know right now, every day.

Everyday, traveling along an unknown trail, means that the skills and knowledge we need are quite different than if we never left our home and ventured into the unknown.

As my work has developed over the years, I've come to realize that while my work falls into the broad category of consulting and coaching, my real service to people and organizations as been as a guide along an unknown trail of life and work.

What does a guide do?

If life and work is a journey, then the guide ...

1. Establishes a plan for how to travel on this journey.

2. Provides tools and skills training to manage the challenges and meet the opportunities that come along.

3. Trains the team that travels together to be a group marked by a high level of collaboration, communication and coordination.

4. Travels along side as a guide along the unknown path to the future to celebrate success and stand with people during times of set back and confusion.

The journey to the future is an unknown one for most of us. We should not travel it alone.  

If you've been around me for the past decade, you'll know that the story of the Lewis & Clark Expedition became a way for me to understand what is required of us as we approached an unknown future.  I saw in their story of friendship, collaboration, discipline and courage, a way of understanding what we all need. During the Expedition's Bicentennial years, I wrote about their leadership in my blog, Lewis & Clark for 21st Century Leaders.

Lemhi PC sign

To treat our lives and work as a journey means we make some choices about how we live and work. We look to discover who we are and what our potential is. We recognize that the people we encounter on our journey matter a great deal. These people matter because they bring wisdom and insight to what might just be ahead of us around the next bend. And it means that we travel lighter, with less baggage, both physical and emotional, so that we are freer to follow trails less traveled, yet with greater prospects for discovery.

In Stephen Ambrose's wonderful history of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Undaunted Courage, he writes about Meriwether Lewis growing up in colonial era Charlottesville, Virgina.

From the west-facing window of the room in which Meriwether Lewis was born ... one could look out at Rockfish Gap, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, an opening to the West that invited exploration. The Virginia Piedmont of 1774 was not the frontier ... but it wasn't far removed.

I don't think the idea of a journey is simply a literary device to describe an experience we may be having. Based on what I've experience during my life time, life is a journey. It is only a metaphor if you never walk out your back door to explore an unknown world beyond your back yard.

Today the frontier isn't geographic as in Lewis day. It is much more complex and unknown. It is still personal, social, organizational and cross-cultural. Judgment and clear-sightedness are still needed as decisions are made, and actions taken that test our ability to achieve what we envision.

It is here as a guide that I've found my clearest sense of value to people and their organizations.  If you find that the future, whether a month, a year or a lifetime, is unknown and daunting, then let us talk and see how we might travel the journey of life and work together.


Quick Takes: Traveling the Lewis & Clark Trail with Naturalist Daniel Botkin

The Lewis & Clark Expedition is one of my favorite leadership stories. During the Botkin - Passage of Discoverybicentennial years, I wrote a blog on L&C as the first 21st century leadership team. 

I have just received word that Daniel Botkin, a noted naturalist, is serializing his excellent book, Passages of Discovery: the American Rivers Guide to the Missouri River of Lewis & Clark.  This is a great peak into what the natural world of the mid-West and upper Rocky Mountain region was like two hundred years ago. He plans to post one chapter a week. You can find his blog here.  If you are a lover both historical and natural history writing, you'll enjoy reading Botkin's book.


Fear of the Unknown

I wrote this on Twitter this morning. IMG_0069

Fear of the unknown is driving business.

What to do?

Clarify what is known.

Talk about the opportunities there.

Change to meet them.

I was thinking about Lewis & Clark as I wrote this.

During the L&C bicentennial I began a blog about their leadership. The last set of posts I wrote can be found here. They capture much of what I see in their story.

Here are two charts that I put together during the L&C bicentennial to help me understand their importance. I've posted them here. Hope they are helpful.