Into the Unknown: Futurist Jack Uldrich Returns to the Path Forged by Lewis & Clark

Into the Unknown by Jack Uldrich

​In 2004, Futurist Jack Uldrich wrote the book Into the Unknown: Leadership Lessons from Lewis & Clark’s Daring Westward Expedition.

The story of Lewis & Clark is one of Uldrich's favorite stories. One that he still believes holds a tremendous amount of relevance for today’s business leaders. So much so that this week, Uldrich in partnership with Jeff Applequist of BlueKnight Leadership will return for the fifth year in a row to conduct a three-day experiential leadership seminar based on leadership lessons of Lewis & Clark in Great Falls, Montana.

"Tomorrow is going to be radically different than either yesterday or today. We need more leaders with the courage of Lewis and Clark. Leaders who are willing to unlearn their old ways and chart brave new courses into the unknown."

Jack Uldrich, Futurist & Author

On June 2, 1805, Lewis and Clark approached a fork in the Missouri River. During their consultations with the Native Americans the previous winter nothing had been mentioned of this second river.

Uldrich says, "It was critical that the Corps of Discovery followed the true Missouri River. If they didn’t, they were unlikely to reach and then successfully pass over the Rocky Mountains before winter. This setback would have jeopardized the entire mission."

Lewis and Clark split their team up and sent one group up the north river and a second group down the south river. After three days, both teams returned and were still unsure as to which river was the real Missouri.

Lewis and Clark being the brave and innovative leaders that they were then split up. Meriwether Lewis traveled north, and William Clark went south. After a few days, the two men returned, and they still weren’t sure.

While they were away something fascinating occurred--all 30 members of the team determined that the north river was the true Missouri. They reached this decision the following way: For the past year, the Corps of Discovery had been traveling up the Missouri River, and the water was “warm, slow, muddy and brown.” The water of the north river was also “warm, slow, muddy and brown,” therefore they reasoned it was the true Missouri.

It is the equivalent of saying that 'Tomorrow is going to be pretty much like yesterday.'

After conferring among themselves, Lewis and Clark and reached a far different conclusion. In the face of complete opposition, they announced the south river was the real Missouri. They reasoned as follows: At some point, the snow from the mountains needed to melt and when it did it would create a river that was cold, fast and clear.”

Those characteristics matched the south river and, as history demonstrated, the two captains made the correct decision.

Uldrich's point and the point of the three-day adventure he and Applequist are about to embark on with leaders from FCCServices is this: "Many, if not most, people think that 'tomorrow will be pretty much like yesterday.'

From Uldrich's view, as a professional futurist, he sees the trends in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, RFID, social networking and robotics (to name but a few) rapidly accelerating.  

He also knows embracing paradox when forging ahead is a powerful technique. Meaning that sage leaders do in fact, look back, before they move ahead.

This course in Great Falls is all about, "Walking in the footsteps of our ancestors to steady our future course."

"From now on," Uldrich says, "Tomorrow is going to be radically different than either yesterday or today. We need more leaders with the courage of Lewis and Clark. Leaders who are willing to unlearn their old ways and chart brave new courses into the unknown."

Parties interested in learning more about Jack Uldrich, this adventure, his books, or his speaking availability are encouraged to visit his website.

Source: Jack Uldrich & The School of Unlearning