If you are an Outward Bound alum or a former instructor, our world needs you to step forward now. Whether or not you knew it at the time, Outward Bound was created to prepare YOU for moments like this. You have the skills and experience that are needed to help guide our world through this crisis.
Sixty years ago founder Kurt Hahn addressed the Outward Bound Trust and spoke of the power and potential of Outward Bound. Hahn told members of the Trust, "I claim that Outward Bound, and not only Outward Bound, but kindred institutions...have made an important advance towards the discovery of the 'moral equivalent of war.' I hope for an even greater contribution in the future." Hahn was responding to the recognition that men who faced the horrors of war also experienced the deep love of their comrades and a commitment and confidence that the average citizen lacked.
Here we are sixty years later and the future is now. There are millions of us around the world who have participated in Outward Bound and thousands who were trained and led Outward Bound expeditions. Outward Bound expanded into serving youth at risk, corporate leadership programs, veterans, peace initiatives, educational reform and urban populations. In the sixty years since Hahn's address Outward Bound has expanded to serve in more than 30 nations around the world.
But what was the reason for Hahn's vision? I paraphrase Hahn here to put this in our current context: Will you hear the cry for help from the bewildered and frustrated all over the world and accept a missionary assignment?
Hahn continued his presentation with two more remarkable pieces of wisdom. First, he highlighted a truth he learned from another educator that has been mis-attributed to him--"your disability is your opportunity." Right now, as our nation and world take pause to fight this virus, it can be easy to feel the weight of the moment--health risk, job loss, school closings. But at this moment we have a remarkable opportunity to serve each other with compassion and action. We have this time to reconnect with our deepest held values, our communities, and with our natural world. Our disability is our opportunity.
The second piece of wisdom from Hahn involves what coaches refer to as "calling forward the greatness of people." In Hahn's words: "There is persuasion, there is compulsion and there is attraction. You can preach at them, that is a hook without a worm; you can say, 'You must volunteer,' that is of the devil; and you can tell them, 'You are needed.' "
When I wrote my book, Outward Bound Lessons To Live A Life of Leadership, I had no idea that we would face such an extreme and unexpected challenge. But I did know that we are facing unprecedented times, and I wrote in my concluding chapter:
If you are a current or former Outward Bound staff member, your skills and leadership are critical to our overcoming the challenges we now face. Know that you are uniquely trained and qualified to help lead this evolution during the time of humans. We need you now to serve your communities as the Expeditionary Leaders that you are.
If you are an alumnus of an Outward Bound experience--a wilderness trip, a corporate development program, a peace-building program, a public or private high school or college--if you are among those who experienced Outward Bound's philosophy, the world is calling you. Our institutions are under more stress than ever before. They need an adept guide--someone who understands that we are far stronger together than apart, that discomfort and adversity can be our greatest teachers, and that we can accomplish great things and overcome seemingly impossible odds when we support each other....And above all, our world needs your compassion. Know that you have wisdom, knowledge, and skills that few others possess.
You are needed. The time is now. Here's how you can help:
Sign up for Conspiring 4 Good, a newly forming group of former OB staff and alum who are interested in: 1. Making a difference now in their communities 2. Looking to support others who are on the front lines or wanting to launch initiatives 3. Looking for connection with others who share a similar philosophy. There is no cost to join this community.
Support your Outward Bound School-- The economic shut down will challenge these non-profits. Show your support by donating to help them until they can once again be leading programs. For a contact list of all US Outward Bound Schools click the link.
Join the recently launched Facebook Outward Bound Alumni Group.
And if you want some inspiration, read my book.
The world needs you. Now, more than ever.