• David Verhaag

Breaking trail

When you live at 8k feet and on a dead-end road that isn’t plowed in the winter, it helps to have a Spaniel to break trail. It helps even more that she is an enthusiastic trail breaker.

When the snow is over her head, she springs up to see and plows forward. When snowballs the size of golf balls collect on her underside, she simply ignores them and plows forward. When the trail seems to get blown in every time we go out, she doesn’t whine or complain, she just plows forward.

Mo’s willingness, her tail wagging eagerness, to break trail got me thinking about those individuals at work who are always willing to break trail.

Trail breakers are not just the creatives, the innovators, or the leaders creating the big breakthroughs. It’s not always sexy, or high profile or career-defining. Often, breaking the trail is just doing the hard work of actually getting shit done.

You probably know and love a trail breaker.

They are the individuals who are willing to take on new projects simply because they need to get done. They are the ones willing to plow forward with a first draft or a proposal that everyone else can follow and respond to. They are the ones willing to do the hard work of actually digging into the data, talking to customers, or doing the research to find the insights others can use to drive decisions.

Breaking the trail can be hard work. Whether it’s a snow-covered road after a storm or a bureaucratic organization too complicated for its own good, getting out in front and actually getting shit done can be a grind that leaves you tired and cold.

For Mo, a spot by the fire to melt the snow, maybe a carrot snack, or a nap on the couch is thanks enough. For the trail breakers in your life, maybe a simple acknowledgment of the path they leave behind and a thank you.

To all the trail breakers whose path I followed, THANK YOU!

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