Business Lessons from the AT (Appalachian Trail): Part 4

No alt text provided for this image

In an American sort of way my company can also be bucketed into this open-mindedness category, but not to the degree that Maurice’s was, it took some negotiating. Working with me to clear my schedule for an agreed-upon time (a month), and encouraging me to pursue it, they were politely respectful of something I thought was important. Remember, America invented the concept of pragmatism, once said to be our country’s greatest contribution to the world, something I now find dubious at best. Where is Waffles now? Last month he finished the entire 2200 miles and has a fresh perspective on life and work to share.

No alt text provided for this image

Wrapping things up

What’s the point regarding intelligence, sensemaking, and the world? Here are a few points, in summary, to help you along your way. I hope you enjoyed the article; your thoughts and feedback are always welcome.


We’re measuring, rewarding, and paying attention to the wrong kind of intelligence, get out into nature and your models (along with your metaphors) will change and your right hemisphere will get more opportunity to have a voice and contribute. Be wary of the machine model, it doesn’t explain everything, look for new ones. Einstein said the model we choose influences us, so mix them up.


Ask questions, lots of them. Questions lead to better questions which eventually can lead you to the best answers. Look into something called Action Learning and learn how to change your paradigms by changing your brain. And if you need help, ask me, I know a few people.


Keep an open mind and have faith. Reserve a “big” open place in your mind for the what ifs, the what abouts, and the what’s next?  Yes, learn to do something specific (left hemisphere) and learn to do it well. But also save a space for the unexplained and unexplainable, for questions, doubts, for the I-don’t-knows, wonder and wonderment, and a belief in things and intelligences you can’t (yet) touch, understand, or master.

The bigger picture

Get the whole perspective before you act. There’s “yours,” “yours,” “theirs,” and “its.” The left hemisphere will try to isolate you and take the reins, it’s millions of years of evolution, don’t let it.


Be inter-subjective. The truest objectivity is inter-subjectivity.

Domo arigato misuta Robotto?

For the last two hundred years, the machine model has underlain the ways in which we make sense of the world, particularly in biology. You may not be thinking of it but it’s there, in the background, influencing our biases and decisions, what we see and don’t see, and how we see those things. It turns out Pink Floyd was right, you don’t need to dream, “they’ll tell you what to dream.” Resist, and dream some new dreams.


Last, bring back balance. Neuroscientist Rudy Tanzi says, “you are not your brain you’re the user of your brain.” Too often we get pulled around by an unruly mind. Practice this mindfulness exercise: Imagine standing outside yourself, observing yourself and your thoughts, how would you direct and advise you? Treat your brain like you would a faithful dog. Care for it, feed it, play with it, train it, explore with it, keep it out of the neighbor’s trash, and from getting into fights with skunks or other dogs, and love it. It loves you and would do anything for you, show it what to do and how to do it right. See you on the trail.

No alt text provided for this image


Dr. Eric Zabiegalski
Dr. Eric Zabiegalski
Dr. Eric Zabiegalski is a graduate of George Washington University in Human and Organizational Learning and has been researching and studying leadership, learning, and change for over 20 years. Eric has been on all sides of the leadership fence from leader and manager to employee and servant and has practiced leadership and served leaders in some of the most coveted and challenging places in the world. With an early professional history as a technical expert, Eric has gone from being a technical SME (subject matter expert) to being a people SME and considers the human mind, human behavior, and consciousness to be the next great frontier for discovery. It is in this realm where he combines his technical subject matter expertise with his human sociological and organizational expertise for the betterment of individuals, organizations, their processes, and humanity. With additional interests in emotional intelligence or "EQ", servant leadership and followership, neuroscience, complexity science, creativity and ambidextrous organizations, Eric has been driven to finding the right balance of qualities, efforts and behaviors in order to not only build better high performing and learning teams but also create a better world in which to live, love, and grow. Eric lives on the Western shore of the Chesapeake Bay close to Washington DC with his wife, daughter, and Chow dog Wamu. Eric is the author of The Rise of the Ambidextrous Organization and Leading Ambidextrous Organizations, Part 1,2,3 (E-Books).

SOLD OUT! JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE



  1. Splendid, Eric.

    I felt connected to your story of the wrong map.
    If I can tell myself a story about why some people do something differently than I would, and that story is coherent and doesn’t conflict wildly with my values, I stop worrying about that they do their thing and I can do mine. It doesn’t even need to be the right story – it just has to make sense to me. (Obviously, I then have to check my assumptions even more because I know I made it all up but I might forget.)
    I was ready for the story being that the soldier had drawn the map himself to calm down his friends.