What Hiking Mount Wilson Taught Me About Becoming a Leader


I’d heard much about the 16 mile roundtrip hike to the top of 5600′ Mount Wilson, a prominent mountain above Pasadena, California. However, the prospect of embarking on a day hike of that magnitude intimidated me, to say the least. Furthermore, I was going to be making this maiden voyage with 5 other people who also had not done something on this level… and I was expected to be the leader of the group. Oh the pressure!

I must have spent 2 hours prepping my daypack with food, extra layers, sunscreen, water, and the like. Finally, after much stressing, I left my apartment and met up with my fellow dayhikers at the trailhead in Sierra Madre. We began our trek in rhythm with each other. Here’s where it gets interesting.

We joked and talked and talked and joked with each other. We still remembered the goal – to reach the summit – but our minds were fixated on our discussion. I also began to track our progress on my beaten up Tom Harrison Map. First we, reached First Water. Then we reached the helipad. And then Orchard. A couple of splinter trail turnoffs. Manzanita Ridge. The weird mark on the map that stands out as awkward. Etc…

Our hard work paid off and we reached the top. Here’s the lesson learned: Reaching Wilson’s summit was much easier, no as a journey unto itself, but instead as the final goal of a series of goals. We had little check-in spots to reach along the way and we had conversation topics that also captivated our attention…while we still moved in tandem.

Leadership is the same way. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If your goal is to become a great leader – create a series of small goals to reach and focus on the progression of reaching each of those goals. When you reach a small goal, it perpetuates a sense of victory and will spur you on to further victories. It’s not a bad idea to have a big goal – in fact its a great thing – but do not let a giant goal become the only thing you’re thinking about.

Remember – this is a walk and not a jump.


Filed under change management, communication, motivation

2 responses to “What Hiking Mount Wilson Taught Me About Becoming a Leader

  1. Patti Haberstock

    I definitely agree…It’s the way to tackle large goals…break them up into smaller goals. I also fi d this philosophy work well when developing an under acheiver. Give that person small goals that will promote a successful outcome. Build in bigger goals as their success with that skill increases.

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