Canoeing the Mountains: Part 11

“There’s nothing wrong with a technical solution that works!

“If you can attract young families by building a gym, if you can create young adult disciples by hiring a rock band, if you can reach unbelieving skeptics by giving away copies of Lewis’s Mere Christianity, if you can reinvigorate your church with a younger pastor (hopefully with a tattoo), then by all means do it!

“But if you find yourself with a high-priced rock band playing to a mostly empty gym while the tattooed younger pastor tries to organize cases of books you can’t give away, then you’ll need to reconsider your assumptions and look beyond a technical solution by becoming a learning community.

“The moment Meriwether Lewis went over the Continental Divide was when the Corps of Discovery started discovering. As they entered the uncharted territory, they had to start learning all over again, adjusting their expectations (for one thing their trip became about a year longer than they had believed), reconsidering their strategies and forming new alliances and partnerships. At that moment their corps became a collaboration, not just between Lewis and Clark and the men, but especially with the Shoshone tribe and with the young Shoshone nursing mother who had joined their party the winter before.

“While we will discuss the contribution of Sacagawea in length, it’s certain that without her guidance, without her people providing horses and without the presence of an older Shoshone man (Old Toby) leading them through an obscure trail through the mountains, the Corps of Discovery would have died in the mountains. But as the men learned and adapted to their surroundings, they went farther than any others of European descent had ventured.

“In moments of uncertainty and disorientation, leaders own internal adaptations; that is, the work that leaders themselves have to do to clarify their own motives, identity and mission is the necessary precursor to the work that the entire community will have to do.

“When a leader and a people together resist¬†the anxiety that would lead to throwing in the towel or relying on the quick fix, but instead look more deeply-recommitting to core values, reframing strategy and relying on learning-this enables them to gain the just-in-time experience necessary to keep the expedition going “

Canoeing the Mountains: Part 11