A few months ago, I began work on my 11th book, which I titled, "And My Brother Jack: 101 Everyday Leadership Lessons." I had actually planned this book about 10 years ago but for various reasons postponed it as I worked on two other books, "You Can't Push a Pig into a Truck" and "Tons of Stone above my Head."
Jack is my younger brother who has worked as an archaeologist for over 30 years, most of it for Missouri State University. Jack is a little over two years younger than I so we were best friends. Our friendship continued into our adult life.
Jack became fascinated with rafting and canoeing while working on his undergraduate degree at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. At that time, I was working in the coal mines and every time he came home to Malaga on break from school, he brought his raft and we hurried to Captina or Sunfish Creek to put it on the swollen water. Those were good times where we could leisurely get caught up on changes in our lives. As time moved on, Jack and I both bought canoes so we could travel lower water levels.
In 1991, Jack decided to fly to Hawaii to see a total eclipse of the sun. He called me with an invitation. I readily accepted and we were off. The eclipse was hidden by a thick cloud cover, but we had a great time exploring the islands of Hawaii and Oahu. Well, this trip began a string of adventures. In 1993, our older brother, Joe, joined us on a nine-day float on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Jack planned vacations and we visited Tobago, Costa Rica, and Belize. Each trip seemed more fantastic than the previous one. The years we didn't travel internationally, we floated a beautiful stream or two in the Ozark Mountains close to where he lived. Jack vigorously researched and planned each trip. He just brought me along for humor.
As is my habit, I have written a number of stories about these trips and other experiences with Jack. I begin the book with a couple dozen stories from our childhood and then add almost 20 more describing the few months I worked for Jack as an archaeological research assistant back in 1982 and 1983. I continue with the trip stories including a dozen detailing a lengthy trip to Yellowstone, which involved Jack's wife, Gillian, and mine, Carol, along with a couple of Carol's brothers and their families. I end with another dozen of the newest river stories and reunion stories.
When Jack was a little tow-headed boy following my footsteps through a vicious briar patch on the Malaga farm where we grew up, I never imagined he would be the source of such a rich set of experiences. Each time we got together I learned something I had not known. Jack helped me get back into nature after nine years in the coal mine dissected me from it. I believe there is much to learn all around us and the best leaders are seeking such knowledge.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.