My friend, Jack Perron, sent me this excerpt from a sweet book called The Willows and Beyond by William Horwood. The book is a sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. For best comic effect, take a moment to read these inspirational words on leadership out loud.
In this scene, Toad (who has been visited by his lazy son, Master Toad, andwho has decided that the kid needs to be forced to hike every day) comes across a book by chance in his library…
The book was entitled “Hiking For Leaders With Novices: Do’s, Don’t’s, and Definitely Not’s”, by Colonel J.R. Wheeler Senior, Member of the Alpine Club and Hiking Advisor to the Royal Marines School of Music (Yachting Section).
Wheeler’s notion of leadership was clear and to the point:
The leader is leader, and must at all times be on his guard against
insubordination and the dangers of paying too much attention to the weak and
feeble in his group. These must be weeded out and made an example of.
Where native porters are concerned, the leader is advised to hire two or
three (on my Nangha-Dhal Experdition I took on an extra porter for every
four days of the journey, but conditions were extreme) so that they might be
disposed of en route to encourage the others not to slacken.
The good leader will always remain in front and not allow another to
take his place there, otherwise, like the African pack lion, he is done
It will frequently happen, and a leader should certainly not be
disheartened by this, that the way will be lost. I make it a practice, and I
urge novice leaders to learn from my mistakes and follow this advice
vigorously, on no account to tell others in my party where I intend going.
This ensures that wherever one may arrive, one appears to have intended that
as one’s destination.
The true leader should not feel obliged to know or understand the use of
every piece of equipment or the practice of every technique, for he will
have employed those in his expedition who should be able and willing
advisors on such matters. However, the effective leader will need to
appreciate the importance of seeming to know what he is talking about and
looking as if he knows what he is doing. This inspires confidence in those
he leads, and keeps them at their tasks.
Therefore, a leader is strongly advised to try on the equipment till he
is used to wearing it, and to find some quiet place where, unobserved, he
can get the feel of it with a short solo hike or two. In this way, he will
ensure that he looks the part.