Leadership Lessons from Bierstadt ~ Manage Expectations

The day started out nothing like I thought it would. Right from the beginning I had to manage expectations. The first thing I didn’t count on was this when we pulled up to the Bierstadt parking lot…

Not even 7:30 AM and I had to begin to re-work what I thought the day would look like. I thought we were super early. I had no idea there would be that many people climbing. I thought it would be a quiet day on the trail.

We got off to a great start though. Spirits high, lots of laughter. Then another thing happened that I didn’t expect. Our group was asked to take part in an environmental research project that Colorado State University students were conducting on the number of people hiking this trail. Jeff got hooked up with a fancy geo tracker. I never thought when the day started that we would be a part of something bigger to help the environment.  I am thankful for those who steward our amazing resources. It gives me hope that my grandchildren will have access to the Bierstadt trail one day.

So all day long, though the whole trek, I had to manage expectations. Bierstadt is known for being one of the more moderate 14ers in Colorado to climb, so the trail was crowded. But, what I really didn’t expect was it would be so grinding.

Even though I knew a little more about what to expect from hiking Pikes Peak earlier this year, I constantly had to manage my expectations for Bierdstadt. The company was great, and the people along the way were fun to encounter and engage with. All of them were from different walks of life. Young and old, rich and poor. Experienced and rookies. I thought only experienced, hard core people attempted all of the other Colorado 14ers. Pikes Peak was the mountain for novists like me. Looking back, I knew better, but actually doing something always brings clarity to the expectation.

Closer to the top, the bouldering was difficult, and the summit was full of people. So instead of being grumpy about not having a “top of the mountain” experience with my friends (like I expected), it turned into a throw-down party with about 200 strangers. So many different people who had met the same goal on this particular day. Very cool.

Coming down was also harder than I expected. Assessing the trail going up I thought the descent would be easy to manage. But coming down physically beat me up a bit.

Bierstadt taught me that in work and in life I have to constantly manage expectations. If I am not flexible I can get frustrated at the difficult parts and miss the unexpected blessings.

This is a lesson I am taking into work with me this week.

How about you? When have you had to manage expectations when things didn’t turn out the way you planned? How did you cope?



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