In a day where “hard travel” means a delayed flight or long lines at the airport, it is hard to imagine what the pioneers of yesteryear endured in their travels to the Western frontier.
We get a sense of what it was like in the old western movies, but only a sense. In the movies, the pioneers rode and slept in the wagons; but in reality, they mostly walked and slept under the wagons.
And they did this for five or six months, or more!
Most wagons were loaded with about one ton of essential supplies, leaving no room for people. The typical covered wagon carried necessary clothing, cooking gear, hundreds of pounds of food staples such as flour, sugar, dried fruits, beans, and rice…and, interestingly, a substantial amount of coffee beans for every man, woman, and child.
You can understand the need for food staples to be loaded in the limited cargo space – there were no restaurants or grocery stores.
But coffee? Why so much coffee?
According to one pioneer museum curator, coffee was essential. As they walked along and became extremely fatigued, each person (including children) would chew on coffee beans in order to gain enough energy to make it through the day. While we joke about coffee being an essential part of our day, to them, it really was.
While we do not have to walk across the country to forge new frontiers today, we can take a lesson from our ancestors in being prepared for the journey.
Here are three of those important lessons.
Merchants and trail guides in the Midwest knew what was needed to cross the Great Divide. Many offered a list of items for the pioneers – a plan for what would be needed to carry them through the days ahead.
But, just like today, some failed to heed the advice of the experienced individuals. Instead, they insisted on carrying along the less essentials like heavy furniture, organs, and luxury items. Along the way, these items often ended up being jettisoned.
As you plan for a new initiative, two things will help you: (1) Seek advice from those who know the trail ahead, and (2) Major on the essentials.
If your to-do list includes 100 priorities each day, your chances of accomplishing any one of them is highly diminished. Jettison the non-essentials by delegating or deleting, then focus on one to three priorities each day. In 30 to 90 days, you will have accomplished 100 true priorities.
It is also important to seek the advice of those who are experts in what you are trying to accomplish. Each person has unique strengths and skills. Wise leaders will tap into those strengths and skills, thus creating efficiency and eliminating costly mistakes along the way.
It would be a fool’s folly to start across the Western trail without adequate preparation. Yet, there were many who tried that approach. They ended up having to turn back…or, worse, did not survive the journey.
We as leaders tend to take swift action, especially in today’s high speed workplace. But swift action without preparation can be highly problematic – even disastrous – for a business.
Take some time before you begin, to plan and prepare for the journey ahead. If planning and preparation are not your strong suits, build a team of those who have those skills. This ensures you take swift action, but are well prepared to do so.
In a world of tight margins, required efficiencies, and regulations, this combination is golden.
You can have priorities in place and preparations well-orchestrated, but there is one more critical component to success. That final piece – the proverbial “coffee bean” of your business success – is perseverance.
Very often, the one business or leader who reaches a goal is simply the one who persevered when all others quit.
This is where having a strong team can make a major difference in your company’s success. A strong team will provide guidance, support, energy, encouragement, and insight.
The pioneers traveled in teams, with expert guides and plenty of support. In the evenings, they circled the wagons for protection.
Are you as a leader traveling with a strong team who will provide guidance, support, and protection for the business – the kind of team who will persevere with you all the way to the destination?
Prioritize, prepare, and persevere – these three actions can carry you to new places in your life and business. Do you have what you need for the journey?
To learn how you can create a team that will help you reach your intended destinations in life and business, click here to learn about the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.