What Waits At the End of Adversity?

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...

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Meet the Expeditionary Leaders: Tom James

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...

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I Would Really Appreciate Your Help

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...

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Meet Expeditionary Leader Richard Holzman

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...

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Meet Expeditionary Leader Peter Bailey

"Leading for legacy is the highest end of leadership"--Peter Bailey in Outward Bound Lessons To Live A Life of Leadership

Peter is the president of the Prouty Project, which delivers strategic planning and leadership development to organizations worldwide. Prior to joining the leadership of the Prouty Project he worked as a global performance consultant for Wilson Learning, designing cross cultural and global performance improvement programs.

Peter was one of the first "urban Outward Bound instructors" in the country and helped pioneer much of the early experiential learning movement in schools. His innovative work and deep grasp of experiential education has led to a career of helping organization's find their highest calling and leaders find their deepest strengths. 

In addition to the work he does with business executives, Peter continues his relationship with Outward Bound by serving on the board of the Voyaguer Outward Bound School in Minnesota. His advice to leaders as...

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Swayed Always By Beauty and Truth

In case you are jumping into this for the first time, we have been exploring an inspirational saying by Minnesota and Canada Outward Bound founder Bob Pieh:

Be tough yet gentle, humble yet bold, swayed always by beauty and truth.

Swayed always by beauty and truth. These words are the true north of an Expeditionary Leader. They guide actions and provide the moral compass that lay at the heart of Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn's philosophy. 

Let me start out by clarifying what I am not referring to when looking at beauty. Our culture has objectified "beauty" around the physical characteristics of women, commercialized it and created a half a trillion dollar industry around its pursuit. We could engage (and perhaps we should) in a deep debate around the damage caused by focusing on physical appearance in our culture, but that is not the conversation of this particular post.

Beauty leads us toward the sacred. Look at church, synagogue and mosque architecture. The places we design...

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Be Tough Yet Gentle

Anyone who has ever visited Homeplace, the northern Minnesota base for the Voyageur Outward Bound School (VOBS) may remember signs nailed on the trees every quarter mile from Minnesota and Canada Outward Bound founder Bob Pieh:

"Be tough, yet gentle. Humble, but bold. Swayed always, by beauty and truth."

Most wilderness Outward Bound schools hold a personal challenge event as part of the final physical challenge of the expedition. When I was an OB participant in Utah we had a ten mile run up a beautiful side canyon on the Green River. At VOBS the challenge is a type of triathlon--a six mile paddle, one mile portage, and then a five mile run on logging roads back to Homeplace. Some of my most vivid memories working there were setting off in my kayak and paddling to the first check point on Birch Lake at dawn--sitting on a small island and sipping my morning coffee as the first canoes came through the mist, and cheering on the determined paddlers as they pushed themselves and their...

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Change Is A Teacher

As a former Outward Bound wilderness leader, business leader, executive coach and founder of Expeditionary Leadership, I have spent most of my adult life leading people through transformational change. Through thousands of days and with thousands of people I have guided into and through the unknown. In my upcoming book, Outward Bound Lessons To LIve A Life of Leadership (Published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers and in the stores October 15) I recounted a story of leading a group on a particularly difficult hike in Big Bend National Park. The hike leads from the desert floor up into the Chisos mountains, gaining nearly 3,000 feet of elevation in a very short distance with no shade and no water sources. During a particularly steep switchback one of the participants looked at me and asked if I felt any of the discomfort of and difficulty of the moment. My answer was this: "Of course I feel it. My hips hurt from the pack. My legs hurt from the ascent. But the biggest difference...

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Becoming Ourselves At Work

I enjoy listening to people. Whether it's formal listening in my role as a leader and coach--or connecting over a glass of wine or dinner and listening--really listening, to the stories of others' lives. When we make room in our lives to listen we hear, and see, and connect on a deeper level. 

I awaken early. Usually this is my time to think and write, meditate and dream. On Sunday mornings, however, I turn on public radio and listen to Krista Tippett's program "On Being." I climb back in bed, and I listen. 

This past Sunday Krista's program played an interview with Jerry Colonna, CEO and co-founder of a coaching and leadership company called Reboot. Jerry is the author of a book called Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up. 

Here's an excerpt from her interview with Jerry: 

"But then the magic really begins when we start to look at our colleagues, and instead of seeing them as some source of irrationality, seeing them as just a problem that needs to...

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