Every blaze is a mark, not a fire. Imagine US pioneer and explorer Daniel Boone and his followers pushing westwards with their forest axes and knives – they likely carved blazes.
The marks (now more generally in paint) are designed to lead the way, impart knowledge of the path and give confidence and support to others as they embark on their own journeys.
Behind the physical code lies an important behavioural code – a trail etiquette.
The number one principal is to work together and look after one another. Few trails were blazed by lone travellers. Because strength lies in unity, the code demands that all who chance upon each other in the wilderness share their information about the terrain.
In unchartered or even known territory, it is important that everyone stays within eye and ear contact. If you encounter an obstacle – a fallen tree, a water course or a parting of the ways – stop, regroup and reflect. This keeps you united and allows you to course correct and support anyone who may be struggling..
The most experienced trailers either lead or ‘sweep’ at the rear. On travelled trails it is important to spread out a little to avoid the cloud of dust kicked up by the group in front. Treading exactly where your leader has gone isn’t always the best approach.
Trailblazers are navigators with a purpose
As they lead the way for themselves and their followers, they hold responsibility not only for their own journey, but also for those who will follow in their trail, be it days, months or years after.
The beauty of trailblazing is that its principles can be applied to any situation and circumstance. The true trailblazer knows that all marks laid down, small or large, are important. They know that the signs are always there, if only you know where to look for them. They recognise that they are not alone, but form part of a larger community of past, present and future travellers.
Embodying this pioneering spirit, Executive Education at London Business School has proudly been trailblazing the way forward for executives around the world since 1966.