The Loneliness of Leading
“You’re living the dream”
I can’t tell you the amount of people who've uttered these words to me. Four little words which suggest you've got it all figured out. If only!
I guess from the outside it looks that way. I imagine my Instagram looks like I’m always on holiday, and yes I am creating, building, delivering and facilitating other peoples holidays. I can’t tell you the hours I put in, the nights I’ve slept on an air mat after checking forecasts, maps, guidebooks whilst my team members peacefully drift off to sleep. Scenarios rattle through my head, plan A, B and C and don't forget plans D through to Z. The best laid plans never successfully executed. Nature is the master of this constant expedition chess game, the only option is to be an active and intelligent player. My job is to seamlessly craft the next days journey, so that each day of expedition flows effortlessly into the next, silently flagging and logging every emergency action plan, whilst never forfeiting the overall goal.
My dream is to share adventure. It’s to create experiences people will never forget! Construct moments which may influence and shape their future lives. I know that every expedition I’ve ever under gone, I’ve come home a slightly different person. I’ve grown, developed, learnt lessons, gained confidence and mulled over the most poignant particles of my entity, to try and organise, and fit them into the picture-less jigsaw of life.
If every time I go away, I come back a different person, where does that leave the people I left behind. With every return, do I have to reintroduce myself? Leading is a lonely life. It takes me away from the people I love, for months at a time. The arms which when wrapped around me make me feel truly at home, the comfortable company where words are just not needed to convey feelings.
The true loneliness however is not the time away from loved ones. It’s the invisible barriers which inevitably sit between you and your team. The responsibly for their safety, the weight of decisions you alone have to make. The down days you hide with a perfectly practised smile. A leader can’t share concerns, air doubts, or show a flicker of fear on the surface. A leader must be unshakable.
As I drive home from a summer of back to back leading in Norway, I contemplate the loneliness that’s currently sitting in the bottom of my stomach. Asking myself…. am I truly ‘Living The Dream’?
The answer to this question comes in the overwhelming pride I feel for each and every individual who's been part of my team. The excited chatter from each campfire evening, the buzz created by moments which are now unforgettable memories. Confidence which has been built, dreams which have been created, all from an experience I’ve helped to shape.
So Yes, I am living MY dream!