Leaders should allow for spontaneity when possible

Last week my wife, Carol, and I headed south on I-77 in transit to the Crooked Oak Mountain Inn in Asheville, N.C. The drive was pleasant and we arrived around 6 p.m. and met our hosts Patti and Bear who were very gracious and hospitable. We spent a few minutes sharing a drink and our backgrounds with Patti, Bear, and a couple of their friends. He offered me a Highland Gaelic ale, which I found delicious. My coal mining background came up and I told several of my favorite stories and gave them a copy of my book, Tons of Stone above my Head.

With our bags unpacked, we descended Patton Mountain for supper at Blackbird’s restaurant in town, which was the best meal of our trip, not counting the wonderful breakfasts we enjoyed each morning. I had red snapper, smashed new potatoes with goat cheese, and wilted baby spinach, and Carol had grilled salmon with a basil cream sauce, asparagus, and roasted new potatoes all cooked perfectly. The town was still bustling as we strolled the streets with full stomachs.

The next day, we scoured the downtown area shopping. We only purchased several balls of wool for Carol’s felting but few stores were left unpursued. That night supper was taken at Chestnuts and was once again superb.

Each morning we had our choice of pastries, nuts and yogurt along with bacon and eggs or waffles. We enjoyed conversation with Patti, Bear and other guests. Meeting the Innkeepers and other guests is always a pleasure and this stay was no different.

Patti and Bear were a delight to stay with. Every need was met. We took up to two naps a day and felt refreshed when we left. Carol actually shed a tear as we packed up. The view driving down the mountain that last time was amazing. Unfortunately, as we were packing to leave, we shut the car door on the resident cat, Millie. So now there was a crooked tailed cat at the Crooked Oak Mountain Inn.

We decided to head north on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a stretch we had not been on before. The entrance to the Parkway was only three miles from the Crooked Oak Mountain Inn. We had been on the parkway less than an hour mesmerized by the many overlooks when a young black bear dashed out of the woods nearly ramming the side of our car. It danced back into the woods and once again into traffic behind us, and finally into the safety of the woods. It was about 100 pounds, probably a male looking for its own piece of ground in which to stake a claim. Carol and I agreed the sight of the scared but determined animal was one of the highlights of the trip.

Carol and I like to get away from the humdrum of daily life at least once a year. An additional purpose for this trip was to celebrate our anniversary. We did not do much research prior to the visit to Asheville but found a great deal of interesting things to do and good food to enjoy. Sometimes, spontaneity allows leaders to have new experiences and develop unique perspectives on life. Although routines can be valuable in getting the job done, there are many things leaders can learn from an unplanned path to a new destination.

R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray’s completely revised, third printing of The Facilitative Leader: Behaviors that Enable Success, visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.