40 Leadership Lessons from the Freedom Trail

On the 31st August 2013, Lesley, my wife and soulmate, 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.

 P1050114Leaders take the time to reflect, to pause, to listen and to plan

This morning we had a lazy morning, taking our time over breakfast and musing on what we should do on this rest day.

We ended up doing some washing, and a little bit of Social Media, while Les caught up on her travel blog.

P1050083We even made a start on our jigsaw for the week. Taking jigsaws is one of our regular travel habits if we know we will stay in any one place for a week or more. We do a jigsaw. It is a great joint activity, stimulates the mind, and gives us a lot of fun.

Towards mid-morning, we went for a walk around the lake, no not all of it! It has a shoreline of about seventy miles, so we did just a fraction of that. We found, wandering randomly off the lake shore, a mix of marshes, meadows, and forest trails.

As we strolled, we came across this bridge and saw the salmon spawning in the pool just above the bridge. Though the photograph needs close inspection, there were scores of fish, flashing and glistening in the sunlight. The river was teeming with life, and many people stopped to stare in wonder.

P1050131Late in the day, we drove around the lake from our accommodation to Emerald Bay. As the sun set is was so picturesque – calm, serene and beautiful!

I sat quietly with my soul mate and thought how blessed I was to be here in that moment with the person I love most in the world! Just sitting quietly, listening to the sounds of birds, the water lapping on the shore, and watching the slow, steady decline of the sun. It is a beautiful place and taking that time out meant so much to both of us, as we recharged for a busy day ahead. Our next day plan was for a long trip to Bodie and Mono Lake, and so our rest today was beautifully timed.

I later reflected on our day and recognised that leaders too need to take time out from ‘busyness’ to pause, refresh, and reflect. They also need to learn to listen, so that they hear at the moment, and act upon what they hear. My experience is much social dialogue is about waiting for a pause to say whatever it is one person wishes to speak next, irrespective of what the other party or parties in the conversation are saying.

I am known as a greater talker, speaker and conversationalist. However, those who know me very well, know that I am also a great listener. From listening, you learn much, and you add value to others from what you learn.

[Tweet “Listening is a positive act; you have to put yourself out to do it. – David Hockney”]

As always, I welcome your comments and dialogue. I also wish you an entertaining and enlightening experience of this series of posts.

Thank you for reading.

Leaders take the time to reflect, to pause, to listen and to plan!

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