Same ol’ trips, same ol’ places? Combatting Leadership Fatigue

Fall explorations
Fall explorations

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning. A freshly brewed cup of coffee and my local paper make it perfect. I eagerly begin reading the Travel section, on the lookout for unfamiliar places to explore and/or activities to try. Today I am disappointed: The featured hikes are all popular ones highlighted often in print & online resources.

It’s an unforeseen hazard for those of us who recreate outdoors, esp. if we lead groups: Returning to the familiar over & over again. We develop a trip that works well. We nail down the logistics. We know what problems are likely to occur and what special aspects of the trip make it appealing to others. We do the trip. Then we do it again. And again. And again.

And our excitement begins to wane. We become a bit indifferent. Our enthusiasm is muted or nonexistent. The trip or activity is . . . well, a bit mundane. What then?

If (when) that happens, we can challenge ourselves to remain explorers & adventurers. How? Why?

Become a novice/beginner: I recently faced a dilemma: I had an opportunity to participate in a skills course where I would learn a lot, but I would also be pushed outside my comfort zone. I fretted about what to do and almost decided not to do the course. And then I realized my sense of unease was a very good reason to attend. The course would be challenging for me, and I was apprehensive about being a “beginner” again. I also knew bringing that perspective back to my work as an educator and leader would help me develop more effective ways of communicating and teaching others.

Go local: There is a great outdoor space near my home that is especially beautiful in the fall, because of its diversity of tree species. I literally pass it every day on my commute, yet I rarely make time to visit. Perhaps you have a similar spot in your neighborhood? Probably. It may even be a place easily accessible via foot, bike or public transit.

As a leader, you know it isn’t always possible to find the time to plan an epic excursion for yourself, much less others, because we have busy, chaotic schedules. Here’s the good news: A local adventure means you can get yourself, and others, outside, even when life is busy!

Local trips remind us outdoor recreation encompasses a LOT of different activities: Playing a game of Frisbee at a nearby park, paddling at a local pond, cycling along a rail trail, or taking a walk in a picturesque area. All of these are great activities that can take less than an hour.

Form a new connection: Reach out to a friend, loved one, colleague or fellow leader and try a new activity together or explore a new place. Join the AMC on an outing. Try one of its various courses. Visit one of its facilities. Check out a new guidebook.

Researching a new trip or activity leads to the discovery of exciting options for the future.  As leaders, that excitement fuels an infectious enthusiasm which translates to our interactions with participants. Folks feel welcomed into the AMC and that helps ensure our community of passionate and enthusiastic volunteers continues to grow & evolve for generations to come.

Remain curious. The outdoors is an amazing place, whether you’re exploring your own backyard or the wider world. Try something new this year.

What will you discover when you reignite your passion for exploration?

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Kristi Hobson Edmonston

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.

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