So there we were…

by Rich McClellan

Last month telos conducted a custom leadership venture for a group of award winners at one of our choice clients. These individuals were hand-selected by the CEO for their accomplishments and future potential at the company. As such they were offered a unique leadership development opportunity. Over the course of 5 days and 30 miles of rugged backpacking terrain, participants activated every muscle–physical, intellectual, emotional–as they explored their own potential amid some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes our amazing planet has to offer.

As part of the leadership development journey, we hiked the Boulder Mail Trail. It was first established in the mid-19th century as the overland pack-mule route from Escalante to Boulder, Utah, and was actively used into the 1940s. Remnants of the old telegraph line can still be seen along the way. The trail passes through four major “drainages” or canyons and traverses highly scenic, yet unspoiled landscapes with aggressive climbs, technical descents, multiple river crossings, rolling petrified sand dunes, and a remarkable variety of challenging terrains and stunning vistas. One of the most spectacular features is an impressive 800 ft. deep chasm aptly named “Death Hollow” for the danger posed to pack-mules. The trail created a remarkable backdrop to the inner exploration and discovery.

In this setting, these “top talent” leaders—who hailed from similar roles, but different parts of the globe—pushed relentlessly to unearth new insights about themselves and one other. Former strangers forged deep bonds. They exchanged poignant personal and professional commitments, and opened new realms of leadership capacity, all while comparing professional notes and cross-pollinating a stronger, more global culture. We actively explored themes like pace, gravitas, pressure, teamwork, and growth in a raw environment. An environment that gave ample voice to such metaphor, positing challenges as vast, as unforgiving, and as ripe with opportunity as any they face in their daily responsibilities back home.

We thank our clients for opening themselves to such an experience and allowing us to explore this liminal space with them.

We hope others will consider the possibilities for discovery, growth, and team-building a leadership venture might offer.