Brave Staff on the River

Ok, I’ve got a pretty crazy Job.  As the leader of nearly 100 staff members here at KIVU, I’ve spent all week teaching and training Top University Staff to Love God, Love Others, and learn how to integrate into a professional role as outdoor guides.

We raft, hike, bike, climb rocks, backpack, and most of all; spend a Lion’s share of our time learning interpersonal growth and spiritual development.

Yesterday, I led a group of willing rafters through a class 3-4 section of the Animas River here in Durango.  Of our 4 boats, 2 made it through unscathed, and 2 flipped right in the middle of one of the rapid sections.

We took this picture after it was over, safely on the shore near our downtown Santa Rita Park.  But rafting yesterday reminded me a few interesting points of the Vocational Dimension of life.

Vision is Key

We start all our rafting trips with a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each member.  We teach everyone how to paddle, what to do in a rapid, and how to help if someone ends up in the River.  The “safety” speech is an important part of each trip, but the vision it paints is as important as anything we do.

Vision is painting a clear direction of where you want your team to go.  No matter what Vocation you’re in, if there is a lack of vision, everyone tends to end up doing their own thing on their own timeline.  In our work, it’s vital we have clear laid out expectations and ways to quantify those results.  On the river it’s easy, if you do it, you glide over the hard parts.  If you don’t, well, all you have to do is ask the one’s in this picture who are cold and wet.

Life is unpredictable

Somehow, our culture has taught us if we just do A, B, and C, then things will just fall into place and everything will work out.  That’s the goal anyway.  We’ve distanced ourselves from any sort of pain, unexpected harm, and we try to plan to execute the vision laid out for us.

The problem with that line of thinking is, NOBODY has it all figured out.

Unpredictable events happen, and the test of a true leader is someone who can function in the moment and see a process to get through the trouble times.

Yesterday, one of my guys, BEN, actually started to take charge and get everyone to safety.  He wasn’t shaken because he got spilled in the river, he just played the cards the river dealt him, and worked diligently to get everyone to safety.

This isn’t a skill that can be taught, it’s an art that must be learned.  Unfortunately the only way to learn it is to put yourself in a position to deal with unexpected events.  You can’t be afraid of failure, and you have to be sure to keep calm when unforeseen events happen.

Leaders set the tone

In the end, we all long for someone who can take charge, set the course, and give us some quality of safety.

Yea, it’s easy to raft through the slow meandering parts of the river.  But a leader is someone who can look through the rapids, and direct traffic.  I noticed a few of our staff look to me and my guides for leadership yesterday, and the guides passed the test.  They were cool under pressure, calm in the storm, and made sure they took care of each person that fell in the water.

I was so impressed the way Heno, Heather, and Preston took charge and took responsibility for the way the rest of the day was going to unfold.  They were professional beyond my expectations, and I’m super excited to work with them for the rest of the summer.

As I continue to flesh out how my vocational goals and directions can improve, I keep looking for lessons I can share with my staff.

Yesterday was an AWESOME experiential lesson for my staff, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow is going to bring.


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