I write this from a tranquil evening with some of my oldest friends, sitting by the fire in their home after a winter walk in the Aberdeenshire countryside.
Life is an adventure, and at the same time sometimes it is wonderful to balance adventure with tranquility.
My friend Arno de Jong named his business Alp Adventures, not Alp Tours. I wrote at length about Arno and the adventure he creates from my experience there with my three sons last summer. That post was called: “Stretching and Curiosity“, two attributes that Arno has and shares in and with abundance.
Arno create an amazing adventure for me and my three boys. In that post, I did not share all of the experience, but today I reflect on the power of what unexpected adventures have for us. Amongst our planned and unplanned experiences, at one point my youngest son (the one in the front of the picture) fell off his bike. He was shocked, he was screaming with shock and pain, and as we sat at the side of the mountain road, there was a moment of choice.
Arno and I assessed him. He was in shock, he had a graze on his side and he had badly sprained his foot, however, he was not otherwise hurt. A friend of Arno’s was passing and offered (in French, which my boys don’t speak), to take my son and his bike down into the valley and to wherever we needed to go.
You see, we had about two hours of riding ahead of us to get to our final adventure of the trip, white water rafting, so there was a choice. Have him continue to ride, or have him stop riding and the rest of us continue with our bikes to the rafting location.
Arno and I didn’t even talk about it but looked at each other and at my son. Telepathy can be powerful. We are both experienced with first aid and such situations and recognise that this was a moment where a 14-year-old boy could bravely ride through some pain and achieve something for himself, and so he did. Arno rode alongside and with him along the roads and tracks, constantly chatting lightly with him to take his mind of his crash and his sore foot. He called ahead to the rafting company and we made it with a few minutes to spare to our rafting trip.
Hours later I sat with my youngest son as the train to Paris pulled out at the end of our alpine adventure. I asked him quietly what his favourite moment had been. He smiled, proud of himself, and said “riding the bike today along the muddy tracks in the valley”.
He had had an adventure and learned something about himself, as well as demonstrating to all of us his strength and determination.
When we got to Paris, on our first evening there we didn’t go for an adventure, we ordered pizza and stayed in our Airbnb apartment and played cards.
As I sat by the fire, I mused on tranquility. In the middle of a really active few weeks, I had taken the opportunity to come to visit a couple who are among my oldest friends. Their house is the anchor for the lives for not only themselves and their four children, it is beyond that. It is a place of tranquility.
In the morning we took a long walk in the glorious Aberdeenshire countryside, then came back and sat on the sofa by the fire, with bacon rolls, watching Scotland play Rugby on the TV. As my gaze shifted out of the window to the glorious late autumn colours as golden and yellow leaves still clung to some of the trees while others were bare, it was indeed a moment of tranquility.
As I consider the contrasts of Adventure and Tranquility, I feel a moment of recognition of the value of both and of balancing life between choices.
I’ve chosen a life rich with many adventures, and at the same time sometimes the greatest adventure is to embrace the gift of quiet, of silence, presence, tranquility.
I then shift my thoughts to Leadership. Some leaders are born adventurers and they can create inspiration, energy, alignment and drive for people and organisations. However, sometimes it is equally valuable to know when to pause, to slow down, to offer people a more tranquil leadership, of reflection, acknowledgement, pausing, taking stock.
As we reach the end of the calendar year, in the UK the mood will soon shift to ritual partying around Christmas, with routines of Christmas and New Year parties full of high energy, merriment and more.
Leaders set the tone, so be aware of choices at this time of year.
Yes, for many people they will appreciate that high energy as a form of lifting their spirits and enthusiasm for life and their work at this time of year.
On the other hand, perhaps the year has been truly adventurous and full of highs and even some lows. If this has been your environment, perhaps you could choose to lead things a little differently this year and provide a more tranquil and reflective tone and choices to mark the end of the year for your business,
In this, I think of several leaders I work with who are considering how they will mark the end of the year for their organisations, each of which has had an adventurous year in their own way. I think of one leader in particular who has a particular strength in individually recognising each person in their team. When this leader does this, each person feels deeply heard, seen and acknowledged. Perhaps doing this may be a way to mark the end of the year. It may even be peacefully, by a fireside.
Tranquility or Adventure? How will you choose to acknowledge your team this year?