Challenge Summary

  • Reflect on the ‘Carve the Path’ leadership goal
  • Learn about scroll saws and hone your skills
  • Check in a scroll saw project build to complete the challenge

Leadership Skills: Do you ‘Carve the Path’?

Carving the path is about taking a set of unknowns or uncertainty head on and proactively defining a way forward. A good way to think about this is to think about a trailblazer who makes a new track through unfamiliar territory. Imagine the last hike that you completed – now imagine that you were the person who made the trail. A trailblazer deals with uncertainty and risk as they move through a territory for the first time to understand the terrain and its environment. Although the territory may be new to them, odds are they take what they’ve learned from other experiences and environments to make informed decisions about how best to navigate the new area. Ultimately, they use their knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about how best to move forward.

In my consulting practice, similar situations arise when clients are faced with very challenging problems to solve. The problem becomes the territory; the consultant becomes the trailblazer. The role of a consultant in this situation is to mark the trail: evaluate the client’s goals, understand the current state of affairs and options available, analyze the pros/cons of various approaches, point out risks, and define a way forward. Successful consultants not only solve the problems that clients present to them – they predict the problems and challenges a client will have in achieving their goals, and are proactive in communicating and describing how to get ahead of those problems.

Applying a carving the path mentality is useful whenever life presents a tough decision to make where there is a high degree of uncertainty or perceived risk. You may be deciding where you want to go to college, choosing a career direction or school major, taking on a new project, buying a home, or perhaps considering to start your own business. These are big decisions that get you out of your comfort zone. What I find useful in these situations is to write down my thoughts on paper – the act of transferring my thoughts onto paper helps reduce what I call think fatigue. I also make use of techniques such as the GROW method to analyze the big picture and bring structure to analyzing options for moving forward.

Embrace a carving the path mentality by following these tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to venture into new areas or experiences
  • Be proactive in predicting challenges and solving problems
  • Expect unknowns, uncertainty, and risks when making big decisions
  • Use a structured approach to analyzing situations and defining a way forward (the GROW method)

Builder Skills: Using a Scroll Saw

Turning our attention to woodworking, what tool carves the path? The scroll saw. Scroll saws are useful for cutting intricate, curvy lines in wood. They can be difficult to learn at first so expect to break a few blades as you get a feel for your saw and learn how to use it.

Our first project is from Rogue Engineer – a cityscape wall art design. This is a cool piece and would be a great first project to get your feet wet with a scroll saw.

Our second project is a silhouette design by Reality Daydream. I really like the look of this piece and can imagine a variety of silhouette patterns that would look great. Adding a background image or picture may also make the pattern pop. This project will push you a little harder on the scroll saw.

Our third scroll saw project is from Tinsel + Wheat – rustic USA sign. They have a great tutorial on their site.


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