Post 3: Lost on the Pima Canyon Trail, Found at Work.


Does the trail go this way, or not?

While having a look at a little campsite, I hadn’t noticed that I had strayed from the trail. Then I came to the scene at the right. The area didn’t look too promising to me. Should I keep going, or should I turn back? There were no branches or brush piled in the way to discourage hikers from venturing there. On the other hand, there were no cairns (see pic below) to encourage me. After hesitating a bit, I retraced my steps.




The right way?

What about this one? It led down to the stream bed. In general, I like to keep going up when I am, well, going up. That was my first thought, so I had gone uphill to the dead-end area. I was standing in a little campsite at the time, and I had avoided the route to the stream and headed up. Then I realized that the “stream” here in Pima Canyon, AZ rarely has any water in it, and that it might actually be the right way, and not a side-path to the water source for the campsite. Time for me to risk losing a little altitude.





The right way!

The right way! And a pretty little section of the path to boot.






A Rock Cairn Points the Right Way

On the business side, the problem for me has been that the very drive and enthusiasm that has prompted me to do the nearly impossible has also driven me to attempt the impossible. Knowledge can come from making a lot of mistakes like that and learning from them, but there is a better way: talk to those that have already been over that ground.  You don’t have to do exactly what they did; just listen to them, and let their past mistakes inform you. You’ll do better, and you can make some friends along the way. If you can’t talk with them, look for the “piles of brush” that they have set in the way, and look for the “cairns” they have left to show the right way.


Next up: Mentors and mentoring.

Post 2: Learning Uphill, Teaching Downhill

Note: If you haven’t read the preceding entry: Rules of the Trail and Learning from Others at Work, you might want to jump back there first.

I couldn’t do much about the hikers coming down when I was coming up, but an opportunity arose when I was coming down. Two young men were coming up the trail at a pace that I envied. I made a little show of stepping aside and saying: “Uphill hikers have the right-of-way!” One said: “Thanks!” and I said: “Yes sir!” Their smiles told me that they enjoyed the courtesy. It got me thinking about how, as managers, we can pass useful messages more effectively by catching people doping things right, rather than wrong.

There is also a “know when to hold and when to let go” piece here. I simply can’t educate every hiker in Tucson to the right-of-way rule.  If I am trying, it says more about me and my obsessions than anything else.

Being courteous to those two hikers with a step-aside may have conveyed that I hope they will do the same with other hikers. I do know that it got me out of fantasy power-tripping, and I had fun being a good citizen.

Minutes later, I encountered a second group of uphill hikers. They started to stand aside for me, and I had fun telling them the rule, and standing aside for them. The woman at the front broke out into a big smile and said: “Oh! I didn’t know that!”

Management doesn’t always have to be hard.


Up Next: Lost on Pima Canyon Trail, Found at Work