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February 19, 2024 43 mins

In a recent episode of the Hustle Inspires Hustle podcast, host Alex Quin and guest Sandy Colhoun, President of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), explore the transformative power of wilderness education. NOLS, established in 1965, combines outdoor expeditions and wilderness medicine to teach leadership and survival skills. Colhoun discusses the school's philosophy that facing real-world challenges in nature cultivates strong leaders. 

The conversation covers NOLS's wide range of courses for all ages, its efforts to stay innovative, and the customized programs for groups, including astronauts and executives. Highlighting personal growth and the impact of outdoor experiences, this episode underscores the relevance of wilderness education in developing adaptable, resilient leaders for today's complex world.

[00:00:03] Hussle Inspires Hussle podcast: Entrepreneurship, self development, leadership.

[00:03:13] Leading NOLS, a dream come true.

[00:08:50] Teamwork essential in overcoming challenges together.

[00:14:21] Outdoor adventures, no technology, risk management.

[00:19:37] Check out Maggie Rogers, rising artist.

[00:22:11] Inspiring courses shape future success.

[00:26:05] Expeditions shift perspective, build trust, leadership.

[00:29:12] Wilderness medicine courses shake up students.

[00:34:54] Leading nonprofit challenges, communication, and adventure.

[00:39:50] Knowl student heads into wilderness, doubts, growth.

Wisdom Nuggets

Unlocking Leadership Through Wilderness: Wilderness education, as practiced by NOLS, teaches that real-world challenges in nature are unparalleled in developing leadership skills. Facing unpredictable elements and making critical decisions in the wild prepares individuals for complex problem-solving and leadership in any context.

Principle of Expedition Behavior: Emphasizing dignity, respect, and shared leadership, the principle of Expedition Behavior is foundational to success in both wilderness expeditions and in life. These values foster trust, collaboration, and effective communication, essential traits for any leader.

The Power of Starting: The act of beginning something, despite uncertainties or doubts, is often the most challenging yet rewarding part of any journey. Just as pedaling out of Lhasa, Tibet, towards Kathmandu felt insurmountable, taking that first step is crucial for achieving goals, signaling the start of a transformative adventure.

Diverse Learning for Diverse Needs: NOLS's wide range of courses, from youth programs to executive training, demonstrates that leadership and survival skills can be taught across ages and professions. Tailored experiences ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, can find a course that meets their developmental needs.

Power Quotes

"It's incredible to hear how nature and business intersect, teaching leadership skills from astronauts to Google executives." - Alex Quin 

"How sustainable is it to be locked away, staring at a screen in another world that's not real?" - Alex Quin

"A life lived outside is a life well lived. At NOLS, we take you to remote and austere environments to teach leadership skills." - Sandy Colhoun

"We don't call the leaders of NOLS trips guides; they are instructors. We're a school at heart, teaching students how to survive and thrive in the wilderness." - Sandy Colhoun

Resources Mentioned

Hustle Inspires Hustle

NOLS Website

Maggie Rogers and Her Song "Alaska"

Meet Our Guest

Sandy’s LinkedIn

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