The Camino Way: Finding Leadership in a 500 mile walk across Spain

“Regardless of a pilgrim’s background, though, it is a deeply spiritual experience as you learn to connect on a new level with yourself, with others, with nature, and with whatever higher powers may be. Most importantly, though, it is a deeply HUMAN experience.”
-Martine De Matteo, Swift Kick family member & El Camino pilgrim

Whenever I hear stories of people doing long hikes through unknown weather conditions and terrain, I usually think to myself, “No, thank you.” Until I came across this book and actually found myself considering one of these journeys one day. The Camino Way* by Victor Prince describes his time on “El Camino,” a 500-mile walk across Northern Spain. At the beginning of the walk, participants receive a passport with values each pilgrim should live by. Through the lens of leadership, Prince translates those lessons to everyday life in this article.

Here is how these lessons make us more human:

1. Welcome Each Day, Its Pleasures and Its Challenges

Each day provides us with an opportunity to start fresh, to remember and value the humans we work with and the work we get to do together. Each new day is a new chance to change the world, starting with the people you share it with.

2. Make Others Feel Welcome

You have seen it in our blog posts and heard it in our talks: Humans Need Humans. And I can’t think of anywhere that could be truer than when walking hundreds of miles across a country. Day to day, it can be easy to plug in your headphones and get to work instead of spending a few minutes welcoming a new employee or chatting with the barista about their vacation.

3. Live in the Moment

We hear this all the time: “Live in the Moment.” But what does that really mean? It means not typing an email while your best friend is telling you a story. It means listening closely, instead of thinking about what you will say next. Being in the moment makes every day more fun and memorable.

4. Share

Sharing really is caring. Take time to tell others how you are feeling – the good, the bad, the ugly. Too often, people draw a line between work and personal life. Compartmentalizing has rarely worked out for people that are emotionally and mentally tapped out. Studies have shown that when the whole person shows up to work, they are more efficient and creative.

5. Feel the Spirit of Those Who Have Come Before You

You are not an island. People have stood in your place, learned the lessons you are learning now and have paved the way for you to get to where you are. In your work, think of those that have been in your shoes and build on their impact to carry on their legacy and start your own.

6. Appreciate Those Who Walk with You Today

Before I get in front of a group, I have a mantra I say over and over to remind myself that my work is only my own for the mere moments it takes to say the words during a training. In the short time that I am with a group, we get to learn and have fun, but more than anything, I am honored to be able to share that time with them. My mantra, from Mother Teresa, is “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”

7. Imagine Those Who Will Follow You

Life is made up of a never-ending string of choices. Big and small, we make decisions that will inevitably affect other people. If you show up to your work as the amazing human you are, and remembering the brilliance in and of others, “work” won’t be work anymore. It will be a shared experience among, dare I say it, friends.

* This is an affiliate link.

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