If we head out on a back-country adventure and expect some form of adversity, we can prepare ourselves. A day of high winds, extreme heat, extensive storm system, or some other challenge on the horizon allows us to find our pace and adjust when the events unfold. We seem to do better when we can establish a routine and then amend our course of action. It is more challenging when we cast off in a storm; it is harder to acclimate and find our bearings. Stepping out of a car into sideways rain, cold temperatures, and mud takes a different mindset.
If we can set our expectations in advance, we thrive. It is why we look at the weather report before packing for a trip. Or we search chat forums for insights and suggestions. If we have a reasonable sense of clarity, we can endure further than being hit by the unexpected.
Which trail encounters would be necessary to share with another trail user?
Grizzly bear ahead
Bridge is out
Horses on trail
Rattlesnake on the trail
The route to obscure petroglyphs
Band of sheep with guard dogs
All of these might be essential news to share, and none of these could be newsworthy. The proximity or impact of any one of these items to the point at which we encounter the other trail user creates context.
If the encounter is imminent, then the warning is highly valuable. However, the snake I encountered over an hour ago has likely departed. The Grizzly bear seen yesterday may be in a different drainage. The horses headed back to the barn are no longer relevant to the other trail user’s experience. If the obstacle will change the route for the other trail user, then proximity is less important. If the only bridge crossing a major river is impassable then a warning one hundred miles in advance is relevant.
There is the human dynamic, with so much stimulus in an outdoor experience it is easy to forget about warnings. The information shared at the trailhead might be overlooked by the time I reach the area of impact. The level of severity and impact intensifies the classification of the information. A band of sheep chased by a grizzly bear trying to outrun a wildfire may stay with me longer: the more disruptive the potential interaction, the more relevant the trail report.
If the result had been two successful basketball shots, that is commonplace. When the result is two successful basketball shots spaced between numerous obstacles, ingenious design, mechanical systems, and a high probability of failure, we stay engaged and hope for a favorable outcome. The route we travel matters. The obstacles we overcome creates a more valuable result.
What features might we remove and still deliver the highest quality service? What was once essential that is no longer mandatory? What traditions are up for review during this dislocation? If the new way we assemble means place and time shifting, how do we prepare?
This is a powerful moment, do not miss the opportunity to seek new answers to the fundamental questions.
The headline number is the attention grabber. The one that we will mention to a friend or colleague. Headline numbers are often shocking because they represent change our assumptions. They often create a new order of magnitude.
There is a story behind numbers. Scenarios to explore, more depth than the headline. How might you share the narrative that gives more meaning to the headline number? How does the most significant philanthropic gift in the organization’s lifetime become a catalyst for more engagement? How might a moment of unanticipated disruption to service delivery become the moment when your tribe gathers with unprecedented support? What if the headline number suggests it is time to shift your focus?
Headline numbers provide the moment between bounces on a diving board when your audience awaits the take-off and execution. How might you use headline numbers to amplify your work?
I can make recommendations, but you make decisions. I can mark a route, but you need to decide if it is worth following. I can share a resource, but you need to act on it to create value.
So the question becomes, is making recommendations worth the effort if there is no guarantee that it will serve a purpose? Why not wait for a request to come our way and then respond? It is more comfortable to sit at the top of the mountain, playing the role of a wise individual, and let those seeking inspiration journey to us. However, the individual who most needs our support may be stuck on the first step of the quest. Also, we might learn a lot more and have a more significant influence if we engage them at the start of the trip.
If you are seeking to hike the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, or even the Pacific Crest Trail, numerous online forums recommend everything from gear to the best camping sites. Some veterans show-up at the starting point the week most northbound Pacific Crest hikers start and provide a one-on-one evaluation of their equipment and strategy. The value of this time together is significantly more valuable than if the veteran waits to swap trail stories at the Canadian border.
What are you recommending, and who is using your insights to decide? Where are you standing, at the start, a crucial intersection, a common point of doubt, or at the finish line?
The average person walks the equivalent of twice around the world during their lifetime.
The average person has over 1,460 dreams a year.
The average shower temperature is 101 degrees.
Average creates comparison. How do I rank? Am I above or below average? What if we asked ourselves about the work that falls far from average? What is it we are going that lands on the far end of the scale? Perhaps we should be doing more. There are plenty of people who fall within a few percentage points of average, but many remarkable individuals doing something different.