Ryan Jordan


Andrew Skurka’s completion of the Great Western Loop, at its surface, provided a snapshot into the window of what was a monumental effort in self-sufficiency.

Of course, there were others involved, working behind the scenes, that made this happen, too. Sponsors, web developers, parents, media personnel – all of these folks shared in the work.

Likewise, the Wilderness Trekking III course we recently hosted in the Beartooths taught me something valuable about expeditioning: that no single effort could ever exceed the multiplied synergies of people working together.

Fire2This truism, which I believe to be an undeniable fact, sort of flies in the face of modern American thinking which is places inordinate levels of value on “self-sufficiency”, “self-reliance”, “self-esteem”, and “self-preservation”.

While I love, and get accused often, of “going solo” (whether in wilderness or life), I understand and appreciate that dependence upon others, reliance upon others, and the ability to change the centricity of focus of esteem from self to others is absolutely essential – and preferred – for life satisfaction, be it in marriage, business, or expeditioning.

Fire3When teaching our den of Webelos this weekend about the art and practice of building fires using only magnesium firestarters, a pocketknife, and wood, I experienced a defining moment as a mentor when one Scout said to another, as the fire went ablaze:

“Whew, at least now our whole den can eat lunch!”

Fire4Who do you depend on for your lunch? And as important, are you making lunch for someone else?

Have you ever made a sandwich with someone else? One person spreads the peanut butter while the other person spreads the jam. And when the two slices are melded together, you have a product of team effort.

You say, “But the sandwich tastes the same, whether it’s made by one or two or three!” or “More effort went into making that sandwich than what was necessary!” or “I could have done it myself faster”…

Woe to you, soloist.