Leap Day: Coming Down From the Summit

A person spends many months working on a challenging endeavor, persevering through numerous obstacles, building relationships with other members of their team along the way and making all kinds of discoveries. The experience of the journey is what makes the destination so enjoyable… although that destination is pretty sweet all by itself.

Okay, now what?

Since last September I’ve had the privilege of working with an extremely talented group of people on a learning project which involved a series of webinars and virtual team projects, leading up to a live two-day event, aka, the Summit. Some of the learning goals of this program included skills and attitudes around interpersonal communication, collaboration and creativity… and while we’re being alliterative, let’s also mention the goal of building a community of practice for a team of geographically dispersed professionals. Everyone involved in the project — the project planners, designers, facilitators and participants — were building the content of the program along the way up to the Summit, and at the Summit, most people were meeting each other in person for the first time.

The project was a huge success on every level – tremendous participant engagement, team building, networking, as well as real learning, behavioral change and business impact. Although we did not design the project with an analytical way to measure return on investment, the intellectual capital alone — the tangible things that people created which could be re-purposed by others on the team — was a strong and positive indicator… and that’s just to start with.  This was a program where the metaphor of a “learning journey” really came to life… and we had some fun with that metaphor, using the visual theme of a climb up a mountain.

The question for participants at the very end of the live event was this:  If we’ve reached the peak of the Summit, what now… is it all downhill from here??

As an instructional designer and training facilitator of this program, the above question carries personal twist as well:   Once the project is done – and there is great relief and satisfaction of having it done – is that it?    (ooh yeah, that’s it… it’s business time…)

You Can’t Go Home Again

“If you wake up in a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?”  

– Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Once we’ve been at the peak of a mountain with a team, our view on things is permanently changed.  We can no longer see things the same way… even little things, like what we see in our minds when we hear the voice of our teammates over the phone… or when we get an email or text message from them.

Our view of the big things can also change, enhancing how we see our jobs, our careers, even our personal life goals. Having had the benefit of a broader perspective, we can take that perspective back down with us and have a better roadmap of what it is we want and need to do, what kinds of priorities we should take so that we’re stepping forward in the right direction – perhaps towards other, even higher, peaks.

We may also have better internal maps – more refined mental models that we use to understand and calibrate our responses to external stimuli.

No, this project from me is not just “done and dusted.”  There’s plenty here to carry forward.

As I woke up in my airplane seat in another city, in a different timezone — apparently I just conked out at takeoff, sleeping dreamlessly for the entire flight wearing my suit from the Summit — I went home with things to do and new peaks to strive for.


About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on February 29, 2012, in Career, Cartography, Learning, Life, Metaphors, Talent and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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