What The Outdoors Teaches You About Leadership

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The outdoors, mother nature, outside, however you want to express it, the outdoors is a wonderful place to be. It’s even better if you are looking to improve your leadership skills.

Yeah the great outdoors is a perfect classroom for teaching people how to lead others. There are several different aspects that nature is the best teacher for leadership.


Photo by Ryan Richards on Unsplash

If anything nature can teach you it is the power and benefits of having patience. Whether you are hiking the PCT or out doing some traditional bow hunting. You will learn all about having patience.

You are not going to make it the 2181 mile trek from Springer Mountain Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Most people 5 – 7 months so this isn’t going to be an over night jaunt. You have to start with that first step and keep eating that elephant one bite at a time.

Good things come to those who wait you have heard that phrase. In today’s world trying to wait is darn near impossible. We have what is sometimes called the microwave culture. If it takes longer to than a bag of popcorn it isn’t worth it.

That is the worst attitude to have. If you are willing to hold up and wait just a bit you can see nature bloom all around you. Deer that didn’t want to be seen, all of sudden start moving again. Watermelon you planted in spring suddenly give you so many melons that you have to start handing them off to your friends.

With that lesson you can then stop when things get a bit hectic and you are able to wait and see. You then find out that you have time to make plans for the different options that are possible with a certain dilemma. So yeah, patience is a good thing.

Slow down

Part of patience is forcing yourself to slow down. Many people see fishing as boring because all you do is sit. But you also slow down and start to notice the little detail in life that really matter. You can be in a rush but if you don’t slow down in nature you may find out that you just squatted in a patch of Poison Ivy. That is a horrible lesson to learn but you quickly remember it.

We have all heard the phrase, ‘Stop and smell the roses”. This is unheard of in our culture yet when you see some one who does slow down, he is immediately idolized and people come to him and ask how he can slow down.

Getting outdoors is the same thing. it teaches you to slow down. There is too much going on around you to not slow down. If you don’t slow down while you are hiking you might trip or you might not be paying attention to where you are going and get lost. If fishing you can’t make the fish bit the hook so you have to slow down and learn to relax. As i would tel my mom, “Breathe You will live longer” Then I would get smacked.

If you have your kids with you, they often will open up a channel of communication. Now this will depend on how much you have in the trust bank. If you have really blown it a few times and the trust account is overdrawn then you will have to use patients and let them see you aren’t going to be lecturing them. If you let them open up they are going to be more receptive when they do ask for advice. You can only do that if you slow down and wait for the opportunity to happen.


If you ever have gone camping. The best stories and memories come from what went wrong. More times than not you will have something not go according to plan. It may have looked good on paper but something failed tragically in the execution. So what do you do?

Nature is full of unexpected problems. That’s the fun it is you against nature. Well you are backwoods camping then you can’t just go grab a  new Wal-Mart Fall-A-Part to replace what you lost, broke or forgot. You have to figure out what to do.

That means you have to start exercising your troubleshooting skills. This also means you have to make decisions. Yep you will have to be the leader. That means you will take in all that information. Then processes it and make a call.

Some things are beyond your knowledge base so it will be learning by trial and error. You tent may have a hole in it. How are you going to patch it up? You rain fly flew the coop. How are you going to keep your stuff from being a soaked mess?

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. – FD Roosevelt

If you apply the two previous lessons to this then you can always find a solution to any problem that may arise.

Self Reliance

Whether you are solo camping or with a group of friends. There are times that you have to be self-reliant. Your friends are not going to be with you 100% of the time. Because of this the great outdoors is a perfect teacher for self-reliance. You have to be a self-starter or you may not eat. You may not have shelter or water to drink.

As a group you still have to practice self-reliance because other people are depending on you to pull your weight. You may have to do the unwanted chores of gathering firewood. Then again it may be your turn to cook for the group. So Just because you are with a group of guys does it mean that you get off scot-free.

People rely on your self-reliance, as much if not more when you are with a group. Then if you are going to be the leader you have to know when to get going and maybe delegate some work. If you are an effective leader then you and your team are relying on yourself to get things moving.

When to call for help

There is a line between self-reliance and needing the help of others. Sometimes something unfortunate happens. Someone gets hurt. They sprained their ankle. Maybe they were bitten by a snake. What do you do? As a leader in the wilderness you have to know when you have to send for help.

You don’t want to incur an expensive helicopter ride if it is a sprained ankle and you can help them hobble the mile to the car. Yet if they were bitten by a rattle snake then time isn’t on your side. Often if you slow down you can look and make a better and informed decision. You can tell when you need to rally the proverbial troops and marshal on or call in the cavalry for help.

How to be resourceful

Often when you are Out in the wilderness you have to think out of the box. SOmetimes our matches get wet and you need to find a way to make fire. How about a bear found your food store and ran off with all of it. Do you cache it in and go home or do you continue on?

This also applies to your self-reliance you have to take care of yourself and it maybe that you have to go caveman or you might have a magnifying glass. You may be able to find berries and learn that pine trees are  great for keeping your hunger at bay.

You often have to learn how to be a resourceful leader. use what you have at hand. Because no one is going to come pat you on the back and say that aint fair when you are out in the woods. You may have to learn that your shoelaces make really good binding for a broken tent. Maybe, that smooth rock can be chipped away to make an acceptable axe.

Self discipline

Much like self-reliance you have to learn to be self-disciplined in nature. If you are lost you can’t just be stress eating. You have to ration your food. There are times that you have to be more disciplined than at any time in your life. Nature isn’t going to provide for you unless you slow down and look. Again you have to be self-disciplined enough to force yourself to not panic and to slow down.

As a leader Nature does a good job of teaching you important lessons about life and how to lead others. Yes Mother nature loves to test those who venture into her domain. If you pass her test she will bless you with skills that will put you ahead of many leaders in your field. So Go out and get to hiking. Go camping. Go fishing and hunting. Get that fresh air and learn what the outdoors have to teach you.

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About Bryan Goodwin

I like being able to help people find their "why" and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.


  1. Ah yes….being patient, and slow the frick down LOL. Nature is Perfect. Listen to it.

    1. Absolutely, We just need to take the time to look and see what is around us.

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