From across the globe, as we come together on Zoom calls, humanity is expressing its hunger for connection. Empty cafes, boarded up businesses and deserted interstates are the pictures of today. For most in the modern world, time spent alone ranges from rare to non-existent. And even as we shelter in place many of us are surrounded with a digital web that connects us with friends and acquaintances near and far.
In our modern world, thinking of being alone often creates anxiety. We fill up our day with Netflix streaming, home projects and Facebook feeds. Even when we are alone physically we are not disconnected. But maybe we should be.
Solo is a critical component of an Outward Bound experience. A course is typically divided into stages--the training stage, where skills are learned and norms established; the main expedition, where more and more responsibility is transferred from the instructors to the crew; and final, where the group functions on its own with the Outward Bound...
The news in the United States and around the world is sobering. The world is in lock down. Central Park in New York is being turned into a field hospital. We cannot see the thing that is attacking us and our only remedy is to physically isolate ourselves from each other. Our economy is grinding to a halt and millions are now without a job and paycheck. The pandemic is like a major earthquake and the economic tsunami it has triggered is coming. It isn't a question of if it will happen, but how devastating the impact will be. More than anything else we need to prepare ourselves.
Outward Bound was born during another time of world strife--World War II. Designed as "the moral equivalent of war," founder Kurt Hahn was explicit in his intent. Tom James, noted scholar and former Dean and Provost of the Teacher's College at Columbia University, wrote this about Hahn:
Hahn was working from a disability greater than his own, a collective predicament verging on catastrophe. In...
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...
Leaders in the outdoor leadership space are quite familiar with a wilderness ethic and
organization called Leave No Trace. Originally a program created by the United States Forest Service in the late 1980s, the organization offers guidelines to people who venture into the wilderness to help reduce their negative impact and preserve it for future generations. LNT has become the gold standard for organizations who operate in America’s backcountry environments. LNT is not a philosophy that is well known outside of the outdoor industry. But perhaps it should be. That argument was introduced by New York Life CEO Ted Mathas, while speaking at an event hosted by Outward Bound USA that honored New York Life Foundation's work with grieving teens. Mathas, himself an alumnus of Outward Bound’s wilderness programs, made that connection as he discussed his journey to becoming an effective CEO. He highlighted the importance of leaders putting their egos aside and “leaving no...
For many this time of year is filled with celebration and resolutions--and yet the milestone of a new year is simply a construct we have created. What remains clear, however, is how effective such a cycle of change can be for people. We operate well when there are beginnings and endings.
It has always been my practice to use this time of year as reflection. Among the many things that Outward Bound taught me is the "ebb and flow cycle of experience"--this is what I now call Expeditionary Leadership.
It begins with a determined amount of time--the expedition. Prior to launch you plan. You meet with your partner and your course director and plan your route. You plan your meals and figure out what gear you will need. You discuss your strengths and places where you struggle. You review the files of the participants who will be joining you. And you lay out the first 72 hours.
Then you launch. During that immersive/training phase you are teaching. Much of the teaching revolves...
Why would anyone purposely move toward discomfort and adversity? This is a question that often arises when I talk about the life I lived as an Outward Bound instructor. Why leave all of the modern conveniences and comforts of modern life for the unknown and often uncomfortable experience of a wilderness expedition?
Adversity is our greatest teacher. When we learn to recognize this we can learn as leaders to let go of the "safety" of the known, seeing it as the illusion that is truly is. One need only look at the business landscape of the last twenty years. Hopefully the Blockbuster's and Borders Books' of the world have taught us about resting in the comfort of the known landscape.
In my book, Outward Bound Lessons To Live A Life of Leadership, I talk about the lessons learned from participants and former leaders of Outward Bound. The organization's founder, Kurt Hahn, was known to say, "Your disability is your opportunity." This is a beautiful summation of the learning that...
Shortly after my new book, Outward Bound Lessons To Live A Life of Leadership, was under contract with Berrett Koehler Publishers, I flew to New York City to talk with Tom James about the book. Tom, who at the time was serving as the Provost, Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Teacher's College at Columbia University, spent several hours with me discussing the book. In addition to a remarkable career in higher education Tom is one of the most knowledgeable experts on Outward Bound and its founder Kurt Hahn.
His thoughts, guidance and encouragement were instrumental to me as I took on this project. An occasional encouraging email or suggestion along the way also helped. And after the book was published I received these words from him: "I am impressed that you have found a new approach to illuminating what Outward Bound and its kin are able to do for human performance and self-knowledge. Congratulations, and I hope you enjoy the many avenues of...
I need your help to launch my new book and honor an amazing organization.
On Tuesday, October 15 Outward Bound Lessons To Live A Life of Leadership will be available for purchase. This is a big day for me, the culmination of a lifetime of striving toward a goal. The book is a co-publication with Outward Bound, a non-profit organization I was involved with for more than two decades. Part of the royalties for this book will go to support Outward Bound's mission of changing lives.
I've had a lifelong dream to be a published author, and that dream becomes real October 15. And I need your help to make this launch a successful one. So here's the ask:
1. Please PURCHASE THE BOOK FROM AMAZON ON OCTOBER 15. Amazon's algorithm looks at activity by the hour and the day. Coming out of the gates the first day will help to give the book visibility and show up in more searches. Thank you in advance for doing this.
2. Share this blog with your network. Ask them to purchase a...
Richard is a former Officer in the US Army Reserve and was among the first Peace Corps Volunteers, participating on the first U.S. Outward Bound training in Puerto Rico in preparation for leadership and service in the Philippines. He continued his connection with Outward Bound and experiential learning and as an educational leader and business executive in the US and Venezuela.
Holzman holds BA and MS degrees from Hofstra University ,a Doctorate in Education from UMass Amherst and is an International Diplomate in Educational Leadership.
He was a Fulbright Scholar and Group Leader in the Republic of China .
Richard's wife is also a former teacher and principal. Their two adult daughters are graduates of the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School. Their adult son was a member of a school-based outdoor leadership training program led by the renowned South American explorer, Charles Brewer Carias of Venezuela.
Richard was one of the first people in...
Maggie Fox is a consultant working with organizations, foundations and communities focused on climate change and clean energy strategy. She is the past president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project and The Climate Action Fund. She also served as the president of America Votes and deputy executive director of the Sierra Club. Maggie has spent her entire career helping protect our natural world.
Maggie came to Outward Bound first as a participant. She then became one of the first female instructors in the Outward Bound system, working at both the North Carolina and Colorado Outward Bound schools. An accomplished mountaineer she has participated in many expeditions around the world.
Maggie has had a long, distinguished career serving others. And like many of us who began their careers working for Outward Bound, it is those days that she reflects most upon.
"Being an (Outward Bound) instructor was the biggest gift of my life," said Maggie in Outward Bound Lessons To Live A Life...