40 Leadership Lessons from the Freedom Trail – #16

On the 31st August 2013, Lesley, my wife, and soul-mate retired after 35 years teaching in secondary schools. Two days later, as planned, we set off for a magical celebratory holiday, taking in New York, California and Oregon. Our trip became known as the ‘Freedom Trail’.

While on the Freedom Trail, I journaled every day and ended each entry with a leadership moment/lesson. Here’s another – with an apology for the pause in blogging regularity due to a web hosting change!


Leaders are unafraid to try new ideas!

While in San Francisco, this time, we stayed in Japantown.  We loved the myriad shops and eating places, and we visited many. In particular, we were intrigued by the varied arts and crafts, ceramics, silks, and drawings.

We started early one morning and having walked for some time, decided to eat a late breakfast at a local café. I decided to try something different and thus began my first ever, but not my one and only encounter, with Pepper Jack cheese. Boy, it was hot, but I loved it! I am now a devoted fan for life.

Later that same day, we picked up our car for our onward travels, north up the Pacific coast. Like every other time I’ve hired a car in America, I was offered an upgrade. So, after some negotiation, we struck a deal and signed off the paperwork.

Once we were own round the car, we realised it did not have GPS navigation. “Will that be a problem?” said the representative. “We’ll be OK”, I replied, “If you have a map?” “Sure”, came the reply. “We’ll be fine then”, I continued. “As long as you can point me in the right direction to start with, I’ll be OK!”

Minutes later, complete with maps, we ventured out into the city. Now, compared to many of the cities in the Northern England, where we live, San Francisco is huge!  So, driving out of the city was going to be fun! With my wife navigating, I took the bull by horns and gave it my best shot!

I was so proud of us! We made the Golden Gate Bridge, without any false turns, some while later. What an experience to drive over the bridge in bright sunshine. It was amazing, though once in the tunnel at the far end, a little crazy, as my wife doesn’t like driving in enclosed spaces, and not at speed!

Our route took us towards Muir Woods and our first glimpse of those mighty redwood trees. They were spectacular and provided a fabulous contrast to our day. Visiting the Oriental experience of Japantown; driving out of the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge; and, then, walking through the majesty and serenity of the Muir Woods made for a perfect day.

Muir Woods SignReflecting later that night on a rather varied day, I thought that leaders are unafraid to try new ideas and experiences. Whether it was trying Pepper Jack cheese; driving through a busy and strange city by map alone, or communing with nature at its most majestic. Leaders are open to learning, to experimenting, and to trying out new things. They are often practical matters, though they might also be new theories and models.

Moreover, leaders are prepared to adapt to those new ideas, models and concepts, especially if they add value to their vision and mission. In our case, our varied day had most definitely added to our mission for the day,

I guess we could have negotiated a further upgrade for the GPS, but then where’s the fun in that? That option seemed less adventurous, and we were here in the USA to experience all that it had to offer, city driving included! Today we certainly did that, and we were delighted in our learning and new experiences.


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