Incredible Power of 1

June 11th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

One very humble small man, wearing home-spun clothing, walked across India. Hundreds of thousands followed and British rule was overthrown. And so we see the potential power of one for good. Unfortunately, the inverse is true as well.

When I last left you we were extreme zig zagging and preparing to hike out of Havasupi Falls in Arizona. Our group waited until the sun was starting to set and we began hiking out of the canyon.  The trail is approximately 10 miles long,  1,600 vertical feet total, and it was 100+ degree at 6:00 p.m.

Throughout the entire scout trip there had been one young man who had ignored all the rules, including the buddy system rules. In fact, he took it a step further and intentionally took every opportunity to hide behind rocks, or do his own little thing.

As we hiked up the trail that evening, it soon began to get dark. Our patient, incredible ecclesiastical leader took it upon himself to watch this young man. Several times the monitor saw this young man hop off the trail, and sit down behind a bush as everyone else was passing.

I was in the very back sweeping, helping the boys who were struggling a bit coming up the trail. One of my tactics for keeping the kids going was to just start talking about what we were going to have for breakfast. Pretty soon everyone was deeply engaged in talking about their waffles stacked four deep, their eggs-over-easy, and what kind of bacon they were going to have. In the middle of our salivating over breakfast, this young man once again disappeared.

In horror our leader dropped his pack and ran back. He could not find the young man, so he also ran ahead to check with another group. No such luck. They hadn’t seen him. We figured that somehow he must have come along, so we proceeded up the path.

Finally we got to the last phase of the hike–a very tight 1,600 foot high set of zig zags, switch backs going up the face of the cliff. At this point it was approximately 10:00 p.m. and our prospects were very concerning as we still hadn’t encountered this young man.

Our leader ran ahead to validate that indeed they had not seen the boy from our group. I stayed back.

At one point we saw lights way, way down in the canyon, so I ran back down the canyon. To my dismay indeed this was not the young man or the group following us. I hiked back up.

After finding another large scout group I requested that they help scour the canyon. Then I raced back up the canyon to discover indeed he had been found.

I raced back down to call off the search party.

On the other side of the story we had some powerful “ones”. We had one 16-year-old man who, despite how difficult the trail was, carried my pack. There was one dear friend, who sat and waited for me as I was going back down the last time. There was a scoutmaster deeply concerned. There were prayers offered. Indeed the power of one is great to both extremes.

I think in all of our organizations and in all of our situations we need to make sure that we seek out the “ones” that align well, in order to get maximum enjoyment and production out of life.

I love the book “Good to Great” by Collins. One of his statements is, “the key to a successful business is getting the right people on the right bus in the right seats”. Indeed in business and in life, that is the case.

Now in the case of this young man he is learning and progressing so we can’t kick him off the bus. However in our efforts and enterprises, we really need to have people understand the implications.

In this scout scenario, hours and hours were wasted at great sacrifice to the entire group. It’s often that we forget how our individual selfish behaviors can so dramatically impact others. Our decisions have lasting impact with all those around us and it’s really important that we remember that we get people who are team players. I always say I’d far rather have B talent that give A effort, than A talent that give B effort.

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