I first rode the Green Tortoise because I needed to get somewhere and it was an interesting way to travel. I then started driving the bus because it looked like the coolest job in the world. At 22 years of age I was looking for travel and adventure, not an education in leadership and organizations.
What Happened on the Trips
In the days before cell phones and GPS, Green Tortoise drivers would leave San Francisco with 35 to 40 passengers and a bus. They would travel up to 10,000 miles over the course of 4 to 6 weeks. During that time, the two drivers would be responsible for every aspect of the trip and the passengers. While the technical and operational components demanded a lot of attention, I quickly found that it was the softer aspects of how I worked with the passengers that made the difference between a good trip and a great trip, and that these were learnable and repeatable.
Realizing How Much I'd Learned
Several years after leaving the road I was finishing my degree at Antioch University in Seattle where I realized that my years on the Green Tortoise had amounted to a two and a half year leadership intensive training. Each of the following 'chapters' relates how I learned a particular lesson in group leadership. The events in these stories actually happened (though exact names, places, and minor details of sequence may have been changed).