Leadership Story | Great Leaders Pace Themselves

August is time for vacation, and it’s also time for the fall semester for college students. After a successful two-day drive returning our daughter to her apartment and roommates, we had a day together before leaving Tori to begin her senior year. It was a gorgeous morning and we found ourselves at Buttermilk Falls State Park, just southwest of Ithaca, NY, for a discovery hike. After just a few minutes it was pretty obvious who was focusing on hiking first, and who prioritized discovery. A feeble defense is in order. You see, Tori is very observant, and enjoys all creatures, great and small. We climbed alongside the falls, which were to our left, while steep, terraced slate rock rose above to our right. Lots of nooks and crannies. Temperature, humidity and lighting were perfect. By the time I noticed several species of spiders, including a few very animated daddy longlegs, Tori had found an abundance of creatures, including a brightly colored, and not small, millipede. She was ecstatic, in her element.

Daniel Kahneman would have smiled at this scene. In his landmark book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he introduces two modes of thinking: Fast Thinking, often impulsive or instinctive, and Slow Thinking, deliberate, often rational, and frequently in conflict with Fast Thinking. Guess who was thinking fast, and who was thinking slow? Kahneman closes his work with chapters on Experienced Well-Being and Thinking About Life. Some of that seemed to be happening, especially when slowing down attempting to observe through my daughter’s eyes. 

After multiple admonishments to slow down, and missing a frog, three more millipedes and the occasional slug, I relaxed and followed. Immediately, it was noticeable that virtually all the other visitors to the park — save a lone photographer carefully awaiting the perfect combination of light, water and background —hurriedly rushed past us while mostly looking down at their smartphones.

It was clear who was the leader that morning. We experienced well-being and shared thoughts about life throughout the day. Great Leaders Pace Themselves.