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What are two of the gifts of years and experience?

Practice and Perspective

That’s true whether you’re climbing up a hill, or building your leadership skills (which can feel like climbing up a hill).

Last week my husband and I set out for an early evening hike to Lost Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

I picked the hike because I hadn’t done it before, it’s a relatively short 4 miles RT, with a reasonable (to us) elevation gain of ~850 ft. AllTrails average time to complete is 2 hours.

My husband hiked to Lost Lake back in 2021.

His review:
“It’s really steep at the beginning and before the lake. You’re clambering over rocks. It took us 2 hours to get to the lake. I don’t know how we could do the whole thing in 2 hours.”

I believed him, but also believed AllTrails. So I suggested we go for it; we could always turn back early.

We started at 6 pm.

There was a steep section at the start, but not as bad as I expected. We’ve hiked worse, and he agreed.

Around 7 pm, after a steeper and rockier section, I stepped into a clearing at the lake. He was right behind me.

Me: “That didn’t feel that hard.”
Him: “No, it really didn’t.”
Me: “When did you last do this? 2021?”
Him: “Yeah.”
Me: “We’ve moved and live 2000 feet higher. We walk on hiking trails and up and down hills every day. And we do longer hikes usually a few times a month.”
Him: “Yeah, I’m a lot stronger and acclimatized. Changes your perspective on what’s hard.”

For both of us, while not necessarily easy, the same challenges no longer feel as hard, and we are able to approach the work with a sense of ease.

Now let’s think about that in relation to leadership.

  • Giving feedback.
  • Expressing empathy.
  • Setting boundaries.
  • Granting autonomy.
  • Sharing vulnerability.
  • Allowing mistakes.
  • Extending trust.
  • Accepting conflict.

These–and many more not listed here–are core leadership skills.

Yet for many of us, these skills can feel hard.

And when something feels hard, it can be easy to avoid.

There’s the great irony: You need to lean into and build these skills.

  • Practice.
  • Repetition.
  • Learn and adjust.
  • Practice some more.

At some point, you’ll realize what felt so hard before isn’t as hard anymore.

Still not easy, but you have a sense of ease.

Feedback is a great example. Many people have a hard time giving feedback.

The more you do it, the more you practice, it’s not as hard to do. It’s not easy, but it comes with ease.

And you recognize that ease with the Perspective granted by time and experience.

So the next time you want to bail on that tough leadership hill, I encourage you to instead take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other.

Then do it again on that same hill. And again.

With time, practice and experience, that hill won’t seem as steep.

And each and every time, the view will be worth the effort.

(To finish the story of Lost Lake, we did it in 2:15, including about 20 minutes at the lake. Pic below.)

Practice and Perspective | 110 West Group | Cynthia Farrell

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