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What I Learned Vacationing in National Parks

Vacations are a time slot to vacate your normal routine. As a business consultant living on the flat and humid Gulf Coast, a trip to the high desert of Arches and Zion National Parks in low humidity Utah was the perfect setting. We hiked, ate, photographed, and mostly strained our necks looking up at God’s awesome creations. I did break down and listen to Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits on the flight out, but mainly I vacated.

Driving into Las Vegas to catch our return flight was shock therapy to get my head out of vistas and back toward the “real” world. If billboards are today’s indicators of cultural values, Las Vegas sure isn’t Moab, Utah. Moab is adventure and Vegas is money. And that contrast got me thinking about what I learned in my hikes and time away from my business.

Several ideas were re-enforced. Consultants are always looking for games, activities, and non-business examples to drive home a point. The Arches and Zion gave me several worth sharing:

1)      Applied pressure over extended periods produces dramatic results. The multi-colored sandstone cliffs of the Arches remind me that sand will become stone as little by little more sand and clay are added on the top layer. And little by little, wind and water created the hole that created the arches. The same is true of our efforts to consistently work on changing ourselves.

2)      Disruption creates opportunities. Everything breathtaking we saw resulted from shifts in the earth’s subterranean plates. The angles of cliffs and grades jump out at you. They remind you that what was once flat  can change in a moment and what was once a beach over time becomes a mountain. Yet, these disruptions created a tourist boon for the current residents.

3)      Success creates problems. Zion is so popular that Zion Canyon is now closed to cars from April to October. You ride tour buses from location to location. The challenge for the park service and any business is staying ahead of the problems that accompany the success.

4)      Planning matters. Hiking in 105+ degrees at altitude requires some forethought. The number of red faced and exhausted hikers we saw on moderate trails reminded me of this. We also knew that certain hikes in this weather were too long and too steep for us to tackle.  I can run 6 miles but doubt I would have made some 6 mile hikes over boulders with 1,200 feet of elevation climb. Next trip I know to do those in a different season and a 6 am start.

5)      The journey can be better than the destination. Our drive from Moab to Zion required a drive on Highway 12, dubbed the most scenic highway in America. I planned to go all interstate to save a few hours, and Laura convinced me to take a chance on this indirect route. We were blown away by the dramatic beauty of the Escalante Grand Staircase as it took us through the Dixie National Forest, Capitol Reef National Park, and Bryce National Park on the way to Zion. On the plane home, we both agreed that the drive (and conversations) was the highlight of our trip. And I almost blew it by “map questing” my way.

6)      Greatness attracts universally.  The great and unique beauty of Delicate Arch or Zion Canyon is unmistakable. The number of languages heard on the trails proves this. So when your business produces something unmistakably great, buy the full set of Rosetta Stone programs.

7)      Make sure your team is ready for a trip into greatness. The number of parents carrying or dragging crying young children on the trails blew my mind. A 2 foot tall kid sees nothing but dirt and boulders bigger than him/herself hiking to the Upper Emerald Pools. We joked that these kids will grow up hating National Parks because their “bosses” thought of only themselves.

Finally, maybe the best idea that came from this trip was that all future Pro356 annual retreats will be at National Parks. Best practice examples abound in our Creator’s best work.

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