Adapting to and Growing Through Change
I can’t think of a single year in my 23 years as a volunteer that was completely quiet, devoid of change, or “boulder free.” But I have come to accept that a program with the sole purpose of serving hundreds of thousands of kids is bound to be eventful and sometimes, on the outside, appear difficult to contain — much like my two Eagle sons and the laundry or unmade beds they left in their wake.
My sons loved backpacking growing up, as did I when I was younger. It was in this activity that they began to understand the importance of planning, space for reflection, and a need for endurance.
There are long trails that attract people from all walks of life — the Appalachian Trail is one of them. Stretching some 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine, people tackle this trail as thru hikers every year. Whether they head north or south makes no difference, it is a long hike. Only one in four finish the entire trail, and many take five months or more to do so.
I ask you to consider the parallels between where we find ourselves now and what it must feel like to hike a long trail:
- While the shortest distance between two points might appear to be a straight line, you’re going to want to know what a switchback looks like, what their purpose is, and why they’re necessary.
- You’re going to want to revel in slowing down and realize what reflection can yield. This one simple practice can remind you of your focus and purpose.
- You’re going to want to know where your water sources and resupplies are. What will sustain you in your journey? Sometimes it’s simply knowing that sustenance doesn’t always come from tangible elements — it can come from within and from your team.
- You’ll need to know your location — a way of assessing what the next day will bring and a way of communicating during every step.
- You’ll learn lessons from the ridges and valleys. Although appearing to be pointless, they are truly journeys of great purpose, with spectacular views, where the whole of the team begins to feel as one.
While we might understand a trail to be innately difficult, we also need to consider the development of our perspectives and expectations as part of that trail.
Growth isn’t always in the numbers or who can carry the most weight or who has the latest and greatest in gear. It comes from developing our abilities to work more effectively within our teams and to feel assured that allowing others to lead, contribute, and shine is always in the best interest of the whole.