We’d been up since 0-dark thirty, plodding upwards. It was dark except for the first gray light of dawn lipping the Sleeping Indian. It was cold—bleak, early winter cold. Our group stopped and dropped, sitting dejectedly on their packs. Communications specialists headed to the Mideast to hide equipment on mountain tops, they had hired us to introduce them to the hardship of mountain travel. And they were getting their money’s worth.
“These guys are whipped,” said the other guide, “I think we should we call it.”
I checked in with everyone, asked how they felt, assessed the situation. “Let’s not,” I said. I looked at the group. “No one feels good at this time of day. Our bodies, our brains, nothing is awake yet. Let’s give it a go for fifteen minutes, half an hour, see how we feel once the sun comes up.” We got up, shouldered packs, trudged on. The sun edged over the horizon. Our pace steadied; dejection turned to determination. Several hours later we summited. A brief act of leadership had turned the tide.
As it is with guiding, so too with being a commissioner—leadership matters—especially now as we navigate tough tradeoffs on almost every issue.
On the one hand we have open space and ranch land, abundant wildlife and rich habitat, and a plethora of diverse cultural events and opportunities. We are the place to be, the “Fabled Montropolis.”
On the other hand: Roads are congested. Housing is tight, expensive and restricted. Certain developments can threaten our wildlife and wildlife habitats. New challenges, as well as new opportunities, require fresh leadership.
The late Warren Bennis, a well-known leadership guru, said that leaders have integrity—they don’t lie to themselves. They have curiosity—they wonder about everything. And they have daring—they try new things (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader).
Furthermore, leaders are not managers. “Managers are people who like to do things right….. Leaders are people who do the right thing. Managers have their eye on the bottom line. Leaders have their eye on the horizon.” (Economist, August 9th, 2014)
Eighteen years of guiding, six years of service on our planning commission, a background in economics, and 40 years of observation and thought on our community have honed these leadership qualities in me. I look forward to serving as your leader on the county commission, to taking the long view and protecting our values, our people and the place we love.