Two Leadership Lessons from an American Author’s Walk Across Spain

This week my guest is Victor Prince. He’s a leadership trainer and author of the books, Inside the Box and Executive Farm.

My last discussion with Victor was about lessons from the 2009 presidential inauguration. And I spoke previously with his co-author, Mike Figliuolo, about their book, Inside the Box.

But today, Victor joined me to talk about his new book, The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain.

A couple of summers ago, Victor hiked the ancient Camino de Santiago trail across Spain — almost 500 miles over the course of 30 days. In addition to getting fit and getting to see parts of Spain even most Spaniards never see, Victor learned some valuable leadership lessons that he captured in the book.

He shared a couple of those lessons in our conversation today. Click the play button above to hear about that. If you prefer to read, below is a segment of a blog post Victor wrote on LinkedIn describing those two lessons. But it’s more fun to listen to him tell the story. You can read his full post here.

Know When to Pull the Fire Alarm – As you walk the Camino, you end up meeting fellow walkers (called “peregrinos”) who are basically on the same itinerary as you. You end up pairing up in friendships along the way that can last for days or weeks.

Early on the trail, I became fast friends with a woman who brought her little dog with her. The first day or two were great, as the dog had a blast chasing butterflies as he bounded ahead of us on a nice cool day. The next day, in the hot sun, the poor dog lagged behind us and stopped to cool off in any puddle he could find along the way. It became clear to me that the dog’s life would be in danger if he continued to walk the hundreds of miles more she planned.

When the woman kept avoiding my advice to change her plans, I had to make the most dramatic statement one peregrino can make to another peregrino: I told her I would end our friendship and not walk with her any more if she didn’t take care of the dog. She wouldn’t, so I did, and a couple of days later I heard from other peregrinos that she had taken the dog home.

LESSON – Whenever I work on a project team in the future, I will be brave enough to be the jerk who pulls the fire alarm and makes everyone mad at him if I truly know it needs to be done.

Ask for Help – I walked through many small, sleepy country villages along the Camino. I stopped for lunch in one small town and enjoyed watching the old retired guys across the street watch us pilgrims. When the American couple I was eating with went the wrong way when they left, these old guys were all over it and yelled (nicely) to point them in right direction.

Since it seemed that waiting for the chance to be helpful to pilgrims was the biggest pastime these old guys had, I acted confused when I left a few minutes later. Sure enough, they lept into action and noisily pointed me in the right direction. It drove the point home that most people enjoy being helpful and you can make them feel good by asking them for help.

LESSON – I will ask for help not just to get assistance when I need it, but also as a way to make others feel useful and build relationships with them.

You can find Victor at www.victorprince.com, and get a copy of his book, The Camino Way, here.

PAS square profile Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on business storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and bestselling author of the books Lead with a StoryParenting with a Story, and Sell with a Story.

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