At Vantage, Washington and across the river near the town of George, the Columbia River glistens from basalt rock perches. These walls of the Columbia River gorge often tower 200 feet over the surface of the water. The riverbed itself was formed thousands of years ago by glaciers and the force of water carving canyons in Idaho, Washington and Oregon. As Lewis and Clark’s brave Corp of Discovery learned in 1805, the river has a clear destination – it flows forcefully for 1,243 miles, its lower stretch passing The Dalles, Vancouver, Portland and Astoria before emptying itself into the great Pacific Ocean.
Water has a redemptive quality – especially in the form of mighty rivers like the Columbia. The water moves. The water has force. The river brings life and gives life. The river moves you or anyone who get in it. It takes you places. No wonder there are so many blues, R&B, gospel and rock songs about rivers. It feels natural to sing about great rivers.
The qualities of mature leaders are similar to the qualities of great rivers.
The Columbia has power and depth. There is a spiritual side to the Columbia - its origin and its flow are clearly not man-made. The river does not believe in scarcity. It abundantly provides resources, depositing and redistributing sand, silt and minerals where it will. In many stretches of the Columbia River basin, neither humans nor animals would survive for long without the river’s beneficence. Prime agricultural lands in Washington and Oregon would not exist without the river. No winter wheat, hops or other grains. No world-class orchards and vineyards that we generally take for granted. Without the river, much of the land would be barren rather than productive.
The Columbia knows where it’s going. It constantly renews itself and confidently proceeds to its destination. It doesn’t fret about where its power is going to come from next year.
Like the Columbia, leaders have a clear destination in mind. And like the Columbia, the mature leader’s destination is something greater than the leader himself. Mature leaders reject the politics of scarcity and maintain a mindset of abundance. They attract resources and deposit those resources in just the right places so that others can flourish. Good leaders water seeds sown by others - they make sure that life-giving “water” gets to the right ideas so that the best of our collective ideas and dreams blossom into strategies and action.
At many points, the Columbia is wide and daunting. Other points are narrow and rapid. If Captain Lewis or Captain Clark were around today, they’d probably be the first to tell us not to navigate the perils of the river alone. Similarly, good leaders don’t travel the rivers of life alone. As John Maxwell writes: “great leaders always seem to embody two disparate qualities. They are both highly visionary and highly practical.” Leaders value people and value teams, knowing that “one is too small a number for significance.”
Good leaders understand the law of navigation. They carefully plan their trips. Leaders examine conditions before making commitments. They make sure their conclusions represent faith and fact. Leaders earnestly consult with others while charting the course to the destination.
Boundless Growth helps leaders boost the capacity of their own corps of discovery.
Take the Columbia challenge. Become forever resourced like the river. Learn to navigate the course. Set your destination. And make sure your destination is something greater than yourself.
Boundless Growth Coaching and Consulting is dedicated to developing leaders, transforming organizations and teams and improving lives. Step forward into growth. Activate your potential. Contact Boundless Growth. firstname.lastname@example.org