Outdoor Experience

Darkness Holds Opportunity

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There is security in being able to see what lies ahead. When presented with the unknown, fear and skepticism can override our ability to move forward. Darkness does not remove the opportunity ahead, it only hides it from view. Venturing into the unknown takes faith, confidence and an acceptance of moving out of your comfort zone.

When many others will not venture into the darkness, it can become your opportunity. Fear is overcome when we confront it, and when we do, we are better for it. Embrace the darkness as an opportunity, for all it hides and holds.

More Than Just Thankful

As we end a year and bring in 2017, reflection and goal setting is natural. We have much around us to be thankful for, yet we don’t alway remember to give thanks for the people, ideas, gifts and experiences that improve our lives. The simple thing to do, and important thing, is to say ‘thank you’, yet how can we become a person who others want to thank?

For those who we owe thanks, do something for them that is worthy of thanks in return. When a simple ‘thank you’ isn’t enough, the next level is to seek symbiosis. Just as the tree gets it’s nourishment and life from soil, it gives back to the soil each autumn by shedding it’s leaves and replenishing the nutrients within. Both benefit and freely give, giving true thanks and appreciation of the other. How can you nourish and replenish others around you?

Relationships work best when they go both ways. It’s something we could all work to improve upon, and when we do, we all benefit.

Symbiosis: interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.


Escape Into Reality

S Sister over Lava Lake

The modern world is full of tasks, distraction and noise, which clutters the mind. This clutter leaves no time or mental space for clarity, deep thought or peaceful thought. The common approach to this is to find an escape FROM reality. Escapes like television, intoxicants, internet and dreaming can remove the noise and chaos of the world around us, but it does not cure the issue. Some of these escapes only give temporary relief, as we enter into a false world of fantasy.

Instead of using false worlds or escapes to relieve the stress and noise of daily life, escape INTO reality by going outdoors and into nature. The same stress relieving properties will happen, yet now, you’re entering the natural world that we operate and live in. The benefits of this include a mental and physical rejuvenation, a greater understanding and appreciation of the world around us and an inspiration to thrive. Even Business Insider highlighted the benefits of outdoor exploration, and the benefit to business and leadership.

When the stresses of daily life are such that you need an escape, make it a priority to escape INTO reality, and into nature. You will find peacefulness and clarity while enjoying the outdoors, which will also have added benefits for your life and work. We all need an escape, make it a healthy one. Escape INTO reality, escape into the outdoors.

Energized By Your Work


Hard work can be draining, leaving you exhausted, negative and wishing you could do anything else. This hard work feeling typically comes from work that does not seem significant, relevant or worthwhile. It can seem like thankless hard work.

On the other hand, hard work can motivate and inspire. It can be a stepping stone to greatness. It can take you to new places, leaving you wanting to see more, regardless of how hard you will need to work to get there.

Find your passion and let it fuel your work. You will find that the hard work hardly feels like work at all.

Around the Bend


Drifting down a river offers opportunities, challenges and unique experiences. The diversity of experiences, from whitewater rapids to calm waters, gives us something to learn from and look forward to.

The bending canyon walls and trees block our sight down river and into the future, yet incrementally the view presents itself. The canyon walls limit our perspective and focus the attention on what is immediately around us. This limitation actually gives an opportunity, an opportunity to look closely at the surroundings and to appreciate the subtlies around us that often unnoticed.

As we drift down a river, we lose sight of the upstream portion behind us, yet we retain the memories and lessons. We use these experiences to better understand our current location and help predict what lies ahead. This unknown explains the reason and need for guides, consultants and mentors, as they have been down this river before. Their wisdom is invaluable in helping novices navigate through rough waters.

Life presents itself one moment at a time. Some simple and relaxing, while others require focus, skill or even luck to keep afloat. We can only get glimpses of what lies immediately ahead, leaving us with a sense of excitement and anticipation for what lies around the bend. Drifting down a river canyon represents a great way to live our lives. Live in the moment to soak it all in, while keeping an enthusiasm for the opportunities and beauty that lies just around the bend.

Train Your Eye


Black bear observed at Yellowstone National Park

Our lives are filled with lots of stimuli that distract us from the course we are meant to take. Once you determine your goals and set your course, keep your eyes trained for the opportunities you seek.

It is simple to spend energy dwelling on the past and the things that could have been or you could use your energy seeking the next opportunity. We all work with limited resources, but opportunity is all around us. It is not abundant and opportunity usually sits hidden or unnoticed. We need to have the vision to see it and the hope that it will happen.

Recently, prior to our family trip to Yellowstone National Park, I taught my daughter how to locate animals in the woods or from afar. We discussed and practiced training her eyes to see the color, shape and movement of animals, as they are so well adapted to not being seen.  While in the park (and now anywhere), she is great at locating the opportunities to watch the animals she so excitedly wants to see and experience. She seized the opportunity by training herself to see it, and then was able to help others who did not have the same skill.

This is not unlike business or life. Once we know what we are looking for, we need to keep our eyes and ears open to the possibilities. Partnerships and resources don’t typically fall in your lap and it takes a keen eye to find the possibilities, but you need to be trained to look for them.

Take some time to identify your goals and needed resources, and then train your eye to find them. Give yourself the edge over others who cannot see these opportunities and those who do not even look for them. It requires some patience and perseverance, but the time will come and your keen eye will see an opportunity that will propel you closer to your goals.

Opportunities are all around if you know what to look for. If you don’t see them, surely someone else will. Train your eye!

Achievement (On the Lighter Side)

It is common to set goals, dream and desire past times, but what separates dreams from success is those who do it. Follow your passion and purposefully make progress: step by step, brick by brick, day by day, skill by skill, place by place, person by person. Take the time to make progress toward these goals and their achievement becomes possible. There is one guarantee: If you aren’t working to achieve your goals, they are only dreams. In the words of the famous philosopher, Calvin:


Now, get your knees dirty and make progress toward your dreams!

They are Waiting for You!


Our current generation of youth have grown up with media at their fingertips. Their easy-access, ready-on-demand electronic world has some advantages, yet it is also leaving our youth with gaps in their natural understanding, exploration and discovery.

We created this world for them and it’s also our responsibility to teach exploration and discovery to our youth. You don’t need to be a teacher or expert to do this. The answer is simple though, take a child with you on your next outdoor adventure. If you already do that, allow them to invite a friend. Pass it on! This does not need to be an expedition to have the intended effect, as just a simple visit to the woods, lake or beach can spark this fire. The lessons learned will be lifelong and the exploration infectous. The experiences can instill an understanding of the world around them, an appreciation of simple things, perseverance and self-reliance.

Get out and grow within! (and take a kid)

#Mentor #Teach #Explore #Discover

Find Your Inspiration


Now is the time to invest in yourself! There are lots of places to turn to for inspiration today. This can be a good thing in terms of access to information, but it can also be overwhelming. Between social media, Internet resources and publications, the amount of information available is staggering. We all have differing professional and technical needs for information, but we also have a need for leadership training and inspiration.

If you are like me, I continue to learn and improve upon my trade by reading information pertenant to my job and situation, yet I also have a need to continue to improve me and my drive. I have discovered over the years that my interest in the outdoors has lead me to ‘pleasure reading’ these types of books, yet I always seem to find work parallels and life parallels that make the enjoyment an education as well.

Confluent Leadership originated where the streams of effective leadership and outdoor discovery meet.

I recommend you check out these areas for inspiration:

Leadership Books:


Outdoor Books:


Now, enjoy!

Commitment vs. Plan B

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There comes a time in a project, adventure or plan when we must commit to doing it. This commitment takes time, resources and risk. For successful outcomes, you need to be tied to your goals, yet we need to always consider a lightweight, sturdy device used for climbing to illustate a point: the carabiner.

The guinius of the carabiner is that it secures you to your commitment, yet it gives you the freedom to quickly release, if needed. We have all played victim to commitment and stayed with a plan too long, even when we knew it was no longer a good idea. We had no way to easily release. We were tied to the plan. The spring-loaded gate of the carabiner keeps you secure, but also gives an easy opening to release. Sometimes our best plan is to go to Plan B.

Prior to making the plunge on a new project, adventure or plan, remember the carabiner, and if that time comes when your commitment is bringing you down with it, release!  There is no shame in cutting your loses! It could save you someday, allowing you to rebuild your current failed attempt or later commit to other worthwhile projects.

The caribiner: used by climbers… and now its a concept used by leaders considering how to tie themselves to their goals, yet retain a quick-release, if needed.