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Breaking Trail: A Lesson in Leadership

"We only go as fast as the slowest member." I was given that caution on my very first snowshoe trip nearly 15 years ago. My seasoned guide had put my youthful legs to work breaking trail for the rest of the group. It was fun, hard work and surprisingly I wasn't the slowest that day! 

The idea (of trail courtesy) has come to mind at different points over the years and some of you might hear it and roll your eyes, thinking, "get rid of the dead weight already and plough ahead!" 

That can be a justifiable approach and has even run through my own head at times but I will share that I've found, the hard way, that's not [always] the best approach. Pushing and thereby exhausting the slowest member is well, #1 it's foolish #2 you're not guaranteed a second chance and #3 can result in heat stroke, exhaustion, etc. 

And I've found (the hard way) that if you hesitate or drag your feet in a moment that requires action...see points #1 and #2 above.

Leaders are the ones aware of the pace.  Leaders are by default responsible for the outcome and the wellbeing of those falling in behind. Leadership requires sacrifice. Leadership requires wisdom. Good leadership requires you to assess the ability of your troops so that you know when to push them and when to let them rest.

A storm rolled in that day and if we had pushed too hard we could have found ourselves in a precarious situation...too far out without the reserve of energy necessary to hustle back to safety. Instead I have a memorable account of my first snowshoe trip and it provided me the skills and confidence to eventually lead trips of my own.

The rules of trail leadership are very obviously not only reserved for experiences in the great outdoors. If you're a man, a woman, a spouse, a parent, a friend, a professional, an entrepreneur, a guide, a brother, a sister, an expert; you are not exempt from the burden of leadership. We encourage you to embrace the honor and lead well; we implore you to do it valiantly.  

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