What Next, part 1

(from May 31, 2011)

How does going to play around on Denali N.P. help me figure out what’s next in my life?  It leaves me with a lot of time to think.As I think of myself as a Change Agent (my preferred title on LinkedIn)- someone willing to take on the hard work of making our civilized lifestyle more sustainable- being here might not seem like the most obvious thing to do, but I’m starting to realize that it just might be the best way about it.

“You’re not wasting your time here.”  Luke said to me as we were packing up at the base of ‘Bacon ‘N Eggs”.  It was like he knew what was lurking in my sub-concious.  I had asked him how he had found himself providing Solar PV and mechanical engineering services as an independent contractor for the park service, as well as mountain guiding and hunting guiding when things were slow.  He just fell into it- because he did what he was interested in, in the places he wanted to be in.  Luke stuck to his guns, and chased his dream fearlessly.  He recognizes that his chase is still on, but that the chase is part of the dream itself, so he’s living it out to where it might take him.  Thanks for the lesson.

Two days since our climb and I’ve been listening to the snow fall on my tent for two hours while reading “The Ecology of Commerce” by Paul Hawken.  He lays out a compelling plan for changes that would allow our capitalist economy to reflect our human reality much more accurately.  Looking back at why I left my job, and looking forward to what I’d like my life to look like, I feel like I’m an important point in my career- with some important experience and ideas to share, but still lots of room to learn and grow.

Chris has a humble axiom he likes to share with climbers coming on the mountain: “Better climbers than you have died here, and worse climbers than you have summitted.”  It begs humility, and possibility, and is an important reminder for business.  All businesses want to be successful- some are, and some aren’t.  Of those that succeed, some are good at what they do, some are lucky, and some simply don’t have competition.  A few of the important things that I believe are imperative for successful businesses:

  • Your employees are no more and no less important than your clients.  Don’t let that balance slip in your head or your co-workers heads.
  • Do whatever you do in a unique and innovative way.  If you want to have an unprecedented result (a more sustainable building, a better product, a more powerful impact), you won’t get there doing things the same way you’ve always done them (and the way that everyone else does them).  If your doing things the same way as your competitors, you’ll get the same result.*
  • A professional organization will accomplish nothing without an accountable project management process, and an accountable culture amongst all levels of the staff.

As I look forward to the next step of my professional development the ability to understande and overcome these challenges is a key part of what I have to offer.  I look forward to finding an employer that is excited to embrace these challenges, and that leverage my talents to create a more sustainable world.  Maybe this doesn’t exist.  Maybe I will have to hang my own slate out there.  Only time, and the universe, can tell.

*Cilogear Backpacks is one of my favorite examples in innovation.  They offer a premium product, are price competitive, and locally made, while offering innovative designs with a minimum of wasted time and materials.

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