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Friday, June 15, 2012

Grand Teton reading #4

Though I risk mockery from those near and dear to me, I will admit to one more thing I'm reading during this vacation... my newest "addiction" = Harvard Business Review. My good friend and colleague Glen introduced this magazine to me last year. I was skeptical, but not after reading only one issue (which took me at least two months and required more than one google search to figure out what certain terms meant).

Perhaps that sounds horribly dull and oh-so-not-beach-reading material for a vacation, but the articles (most of them, anyway) send my mind in a million directions, all creative and stimulating. Sure, most of them make think about work... but let's not forget, I have the deep privilege of loving what I do! (And I thank the Lord every day for that.)

Believe it or not, articles in "HBR" often give me 1-2 page resources for the college interns I'm training this summer, or material for a church with whom I'm consulting, or seeds for an article idea. And yes, once in awhile there is an article that flies completely over my head with its multiple business-school acronyms or corporate concepts. Perhaps I should mention that other than a part-time job as a bank teller in high school and my first job out of school as a technical writer, my entire employment career has been in non-profits.

No doubt that is part of HBR's appeal for me. It stretches my mind in ways that all of my beloved theological and literary books do not. It constantly reminds me that there is a huge world out there that needs the truth of the kingdom. And it shows me, more than you would expect, that there are many in the for-profit sector who still look to make a true difference in the world (I submit this article from today's website posts as evidence.)

I'm three issues behind in my reading, because I refuse to rush through them. So I have been reading the April 2012 issue, and given where I am, among 10,000' peaks, I was more than interested in this article in particular: Wilderness Leadership -- On the Job (here's the nubbin of the article at least... you have to subscribe to the get full one!). It describes some hoity-toity leadership development course put on by NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School), that sounds one part amazing and one part pee-in-your-pants challenging!

This article addressed the subject most dear to my heart these days, that of leadership development. And it concluded with this especially poignant section:
Many scholars argue that the fast-paced, high-tech world of work wreaks havoc on leaders' ability to engage in the careful strategic thinking required of them. We agree; executives in particular (HELLO -- anyone!!) need to occasionally abandon their modern-day trappings and recharge. This means disconnecting not just from laptops and smartphones but also from devices that purportedly promote relaxation, such as iPads and TVs. We believe that getting out into nature achieves what the environmental psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan call "attention restoration." Being in the outdoors effectively resets our brains, allowing us to analyze problems, map strategies, and dream big.
Today was a perfect example of that for me. Unlike the other days, my friend and I decided to hike separately. She opted for a much more strenuous hike of nearly 13 miles with a vertical climb of 2,500', while I chose to take the rolling hike around Jenny Lake, which is about 8 miles long. We had opted to turn off the data on our smartphones for the trip (and enjoyed the email break immensely) but today I also decided to not listen to anything. I just hiked briskly for a bit over two hours and had an amazing time. I saw marmots, ducks, geese, an elk, a fox, and a bear cub. I heard endless birdsong. I paused and gloried in the beauty of this park (seriously, if you have not been, YOU. MUST. GO.) as I stood overlooking Jenny Lake with rapids feeding into it on one side, Hidden Falls rushing down another side, and the Teton Range thrusting upward around it. (I cannot claim credit for this photo, but it captures an average view from my day perfectly.)

And during the entire "lap" around the lake I never tired of talking with God. I talked with him (yep, out loud) about various things on my mind, I lifted up many dear ones in prayer, I pondered certain situations, I revealed some fears. To say it was a time of attention restoration is a massive understatement. It was heaven itself.

I pray you may have some attention restoration this summer. Read some good, hard, challenging books. And Lord willing, may you get to go to a "thin place" and revel in the Creator. He is so very, very good.

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