Posts Tagged ‘Leadership Journey’

Man Overboard!

May 19, 2011

“You can only ever become bored, when you no longer follow your heart.”  ~Mike Dooley

A series of ear-splitting bells split the afternoon air, followed by “Man overboard!  Drill, Drill, Drill!”  All around us the crew spring into action, shifting from whatever they were doing to pre-set roles, as gracefully as a professional dancer moving from a ballet to a Samba.  Over the next 15 minutes we witness the crew of the sailing schooner Adventuress hone their individual and collective skill to respond to emergencies.  I am moved – to tears – each time I witness the crew in action like this.  They are doing work they love, with people they respect, for the sake of things that matter deeply to them.  And I cannot help being moved, though I confess I hide behind my sunglasses and the viewfinder of my camera.

Hauling away to raise the sail.

Observing all of this, from the viewpoint of a group of civic and corporate leaders in training, we get a glimpse of something I believe we all seek: A Purpose Driven life.  In my experience, the heads and hearts of the crew are fully engaged in work they love.  Their commitment to each other, the boat, and their passengers, is one I am repeatedly inspired by.

For context, this drama unfolds aboard the floating national historic landmark – the schooner Adventuress.  This beautiful sailing ship measures over 100’ long, her rig reaches 110’ into the sky, and she carries roughly 5,500 square feet of canvas sails.  She is also nearing her 100th birthday.  It takes a crew of 12 – mostly volunteers – to sail her, and thousands of hours every winter to maintain and restore her.  Last winter alone she absorbed 5,000 volunteer hours plus roughly 10,000 paid hours by skilled shipwrights practicing their ancient craft.

The Adventuress is owned, operated, and is being lovingly restored, by the non-profit Sound Experience.  Their mission is to “educate, inspire and empower,” for the sake of a sustainable future for Puget Sound.  And the Adventuress is their platform for furthering this mission.  (www.soundexp.org)

Betsy climbs the rigging on the main mast.

Viewed through a different lens, the Adventuress is the physical manifestation of a massive pool of human energy – expressed in the form of Love, Passion, and Purpose.  Channeled into a wooden sailing vessel.  And formed into an organizational culture that fosters exceptional teamwork, models deep respect (for people, boat, and planet), and embodies purpose-driven work.  Their heart’s are in the game.  Fully.

Thank you Adventuress crew and staff.  You always dazzle and touch us!  Safe sailing!

This is our Leadership Journey, Pacific Northwest style.  To learn more check out a recent article in Seattle Business Magazine featuring this program.  (link here)

Reflection questions: If you followed your heart for the next 24 hours, what would you do differently?  Who would you be?  How would you treat those that grace your day?  What would you say YES to?  Who and what would you not take for granted?  What would you say that you haven’t been saying?  To others?  To yourself?

The combined Ascent and Adventuress Crew!

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Look how much we have lost

May 18, 2010

We have just returned from leading a 10 day Leadership Journey to Ecuador (http://www.ascentinstitute.com/news/tlj.html).

Christina and John chatting in Puanchir's home (c)2010 Scott Stout

At one point during our journey we were sleeping under mosquito nets on the uneven dirt floor of the village shaman’s house, deep in the Amazonian rainforest.  In the morning, I was chatting with our Ecuadorian guide Christina when she said something that landed with a profound impact: “Look how little they have; look how much we have lost.”

Puanchir, Ishpingo village, Achuar Territory, Ecuador (c)2010 John M. McConnell

To put that statement in context: we are in the home of Puanchir, a man whose entire collection of belongings adds up to less than any one of us has brought with us for a two day visit.  He began his life as a warrior, fighting to protect his family from nearby marauding tribes.  He was present when the first missionaries arrived, bringing with them medicine, education, religion, and the radical change of moving from scattered home sites into small villages.  He went on to become the village healer, learning the traditional ways of using plants and ancient ceremonies to heal mind, body and spirit.  His village is on a dirt airstrip where light planes occasionally come and go, but he has never left the rainforest, nor seen the ocean, a town, or even a mountain.

Despite these drastic changes (all in one lifetime!) he remains fiercely committed to preserving the traditional ways, yet open to the knowledge and benefits of what the developed world offers.

Puanchir generously offered to share his home and to do a ceremonial healing for us, and he welcomed our support for his own physical ailments (he is in his 70’s but doesn’t know his exact age as there were no calendars during the first 1/2 of his life).  He has had essentially no “western” health care in his lifetime.

Puanchir does spend every single day with his family.  His life is sustainable and in harmony with his surroundings.  He works when he needs to and he naps/relaxes whenever he chooses.  He is so attuned to his body and the natural rhythms of life around him that he can sense animals and insects without seeing them.  He can hit a banana at 10 meters with the dart from a 10′ long blowgun.  He is committed to preserving the natural environment, not as an abstract idea but rather because he knows that a healthy environment is essential to a sustainable future. For everything and everyone.

He knows the legacy he is leaving for his family and village.  We witnessed him coaching the young men from the village with a balance of his fierce commitment to preserving the traditional knowledge and a patient and loving presence.  Most importantly, and despite the fact that at his age he lives with constant pain, the biggest gift that Puanchir gave us was his laughter.  We couldn’t help but join the giggling whenever he started to chuckle.  Some forms of human communication are universal and need no translation.

No one, least of all me, would suggest that we abandon our modern homes and move into thatched huts.  Yet I do long to experience and be much of what Puanchir has in his life.  Deep daily connection with family and community.  Knowing clearly his purpose in life.  Peace with who he is and who he isn’t.  Freedom from the damaging myth that we are independent — he knows we are all one.  Understanding that he already has enough.

***More posts re: our Journey to Ecuador coming soon.***

For more pictures of our journey visit: http://homepage.mac.com/jmac999/JourneyEcuador/index.html

Leadership Journey to Ecuador 2010, Ishpingo, Ecuador. (c)2010 Virginia Rhoads