Past staff member about taking ownership

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Kristin about taking ownership
Our guide Kirstin on top of the mountains at Spruce Lake


While waiting for my lunch to get ready, I remembered the promise I gave to myself some days ago. I’ll write my story in the bus to Vancouver, 4 hours should be enough! But I ended up sleeping through it, so I thought during the flight, but I slept through most of my flight too. Well maybe on the train home, or when I’m back home, since I’ll have ample of time! Turned out I slept through all that too. But last night I couldn’t sleep anymore and I guess that means my body finally caught up with it’s sleep deprivation 🙂

From a very busy life at the ranch (yes, even though it has no cattle, we still call it a ranch) to a rather sluggish life back at home where I feel rather restless.

It’s dificult to ‘wire down’ from a life full of responsibilities and work and many things going on at the same time back to a life at home without work. From taking ownership to: I don’t know what I want to do with my life and my free time. At least for now until I find a new destination and goal and new work. And even though the water tastes flat, the city is noisy, ennui is plaguing me and there is no horse or wilderness, but the concrete jungle, near or far and I’d rather be gone already, it is an important time to reflect on the last months experiences, to re-valuate my life, my goals and interests and so on.

I know I’m supposed to write my story about my time at the ranch here, but really, what I want to write about is something I figured I should write about a few weeks ago: taking ownership.

As per definition taking ownership is taking responsibility for your work and actions. Having a faster connection and time to research it I find all kind of good things about it!

I like this phrase “Sometimes you can’t be passionate about a job, but you can still take ownership. You can still own the job and do it well.“

Kristin riding to El Dorado with Mowson
Kristin riding to Eldorado with Mowson

It resonated with me as I wasn’t very excited about starting to work in the kitchen when I first came here, almost a year ago. Nor was I impressed when my job changed and I was moved into the office after having already decided that working in an office would never be a consideration for a future career for me. During my first few days there I felt even more useless than in the kitchen, there I had been able to see my immediate results at least, but following up enquiries could take weeks or months to get an answer and sometimes no answer at all. Creating newsletters was another challenge as we only have satellite internet which is anything but fast and I hardly knew anything about the place or pack trips, having arrived after the end of the pack trip season. But despite my inclination against office work I still gave it my best, I always do, no matter where and when – “work is work“ and not play time and therefore will get my serious attention. Having this mindset it didn’t take long for me to take up more responsibilities. At the ranch they have this saying “responsibility is taken not given“. If I saw something one of the new staff forgot to do or things that maybe only service inclined people can see, I would do them, by myself if I could. I don’t like bossing people around if I had time to do things myself, I would, even it they had nothing to do with the tasks I was supposed to do. After staying for a while and after a few rotations through all the departments, interns usually know most aspects of the place in about 1 or 2 months and it is up to them to take responsibility if they choose to.

I had already slightly supervised new staff before but since our hiking guide who had been our office manager in winter was out guiding again, I somehow slipped into a managing role, where I was trying hard to keep the place as nice, clean and comfortable as possible for our guests. Naturally being a perfectionist I surely must have bothered others by giving them more tasks, but tried hard to balance it by doing as much as possible by myself. I truly believe that a good leader is one who does not work around giving out orders, but one who walks around and helps wherever possible to get things done faster together, even with a broken foot. So here I was, the one who never had wanted to manage others, taking ownership and trying to do whatever I thought would be best for the business.
It is an interesting state to be so into caring for someone elses business, without any worldly rewards, as if it were my own. At some points I thought I was taking too much ownership, working long hours and missing out on socializing with others. But it was my free choice and my service orientatedness and care for the place kept me going even when I told myself to do less. Often and to my surprise I would have other staff turn to me and ask me for help or advice, which was new to me and not always easy, as I’m still far from knowing everything.

Kristin riding bareback on Windy
Kristin hugging Windy

But taking ownership doesn’t end here. It is interwoven in everything you do. Just like most tasks will test you and promote personal growth in one way or another. For example – we all want to be successful – did you know that ownership can be a key to success? Here is something I found in my research: “Any job you do is going to ‘have your fingerprints all over it.’ That is why it is so important to take ownership of your job, any job you do, and really own it. Do it the best you can; do it the best it can be done. That is how you succeed.“ And your efforts won’t go unnoticed!

It’s also the key to your private success. If you want to do something, take initiative and responsibility by being the one who organizes it and who will be in charge of it. If you want to go out for a ride, don’t wait for someone to organize it, go take the responsibility in your hands and go ask others to join you, figure out a good time for everyone or someone to swap shifts with you if you want to go during work hours. It’s in your hands! The same goes for all kinds of activities you can do at the ranch. Go organize them, make sure to be prepared and follow the rules to play it safe and don’t wait for someone else to come and ‘babysit’ you. The ranch is yours – it is what you make out of it, so if you take ownership you’ll not only learn valuable soft skills but also have the time of your life and get all your interests met. Go challenge yourself to do work hard and give it your all, that is after all what most people come here for – for the challenge and the opportunity to grow. If you don’t work on it, don’t expect growth to come by itself! 🙂

Though originially I had planned to stay only over christmas or maybe until the end of winter, I soon knew I wanted to see the other season, the pack trip season, too. It was after all the more interesting season and the one I was still advertising and booking clients for.

Therefore I completed a two week Guide School course, where I got the chance to work as a guide and to lead pack trips. I had several occassions helping to take guests out on trail rides and they were all wonderful and lovely people that I’m glad I got to meet, but surely I’ll cherish the two times the most when I finally got to take out guests into the mountains as a lead guide.

Out there you are ‘all alone’ with your guests and the other guide. You’ll organize the day and work hard all day long and you have to be in charge to ensure everyone’s safety. Of course I was lucky to ride these wonderful and sure-footed horses who always were my biggest confidence boost out there as I knew I could trust them with my life (they are the kind of beings that are more worried about that yummy bit of grass you won’t let them eat than the steep slope you are walking over).

So everything you learn at the safer environment at the ranch – from organizing people, building up stamina working over hours and learning to follow procedures, it will all help you to turn that trip into the best adventure in your guests’ life and in your own!