Karin’s Leadership Articles

It’s hard to argue with Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit “begin with the end in mind.” Wise wisdom. But. Heads down, full steam ahead comes with risks.

Chartered courses without open minds lead to missed opportunity.

Sir Captain Don’s Story

Last week I met Sir Captain Don Stewart on our vacation to Bonaire, in the Dutch Caribbean.

Captain Don.

  • Was named one of the world’s greatest explorers by Life Magazine
  • Was recognized with National Geographic Society’s highest award
  • Was knighted
  • Led conservation movements and policy creation, including the elimination of spear fishing in Bonaire
  • Led the transformation of the Bonaire economy by creating a viable tourism industry
  • Made 25 expeditions to the Antarctic, and was recognized when a National geographic feature “the Walsh spur” was named after his contributions
  • Was appointed by Presidents Carter and Reagan to the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere
  • Was aboard the bathyscaphe Trieste when it made a record maximum descent into the Mariana Trench on January 23, 1960, the deepest point of the world’s oceans

BUT before all that Don.

  • Didn’t make it as a hollywood actor
  • Had his screenplay rejected
  • Survived cancer
  • Was broke
  • Patented a method that made it possible to fit screens into sliding glass doors
  • Developed a highly successful screening company
  • Floated the Mississippi on a raft
  • Taught himself to sail
  • Was a spear fisher
  • Collected exotic fish and sold them for aquariums
  • Sunk his sailboat

Captain Don began with an open mind. One thing led to another. His passion emerged. He shared that he was encouraged by a hollywood friend to, “live his script.”

Begin with an Open Mind

open mindDon’t get stopped by…

  • Good but not great
  • False starts
  • Success
  • Failures
  • Setbacks

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Ali Anani (@alianani15)

    Karin- a moving story from multi-talented captain Sir Don Stewart. People who dive in the sea find the gems. This man ventured in many seas. I envy you having met with him.
    I wish Karin to write more about his encounter- his personality, passion to his past, nostalgia to his discoveries, body expressions. and the like.
    A man with open mind has so many things to say.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Wow, Ali… thanks for adding your colorful words and inspiring thoughts to the conversation.

  2. Dave Bratcher

    So much insight in just a few words. Thanks for sharing your experience Karin. Did you learn what it was that allowed him to overcome fear? Was it his open mind?

    • letsgrowleaders

      Dave, He seems to have an innate quest for adventure. Success bores him, always looking for the next thing. I think mostly, he was not afraid to be poor or have things go wrong, that was always part of the adventure. He believed in himself and his ability to over come.

      He also is a bit eccentric. What I didn’t mention is that he lost his leg, and bought a pyramid to bury it in. Well, then again, who wouldnt think of that 😉

  3. Bill Benoist

    Hi Karin,

    I only recently came across your blog and this post was the first to hit my inbox. I must say, I truly enjoyed the story.

    We don’t often get the opportunity to read about the challenges leaders have faced throughout their lives, but there seems to always be one common denominator: Whether it was King, Lincoln, Kennedy or men like Captain Don – none refused to be deterred by the setbacks they encountered. Each and everyone took responsibility and proceeded with integrity and heart to guide them forward – accepting the setback as learning experience and not dwelling on it.


    • letsgrowleaders

      Bill, So awesome to have you in the community. Thank you for you insights. Love your list. Loved this part.. “Each and everyone took responsibility and proceeded with integrity and heart to guide them forward – accepting the setback as learning experience and not dwelling on it.”

  4. Matt McWilliams


    I think it was Jon Acuff that said something to the effect of:

    “Begin with the end in mind somehow turned into ‘begin with the end set in stone.'”

    I know for me, I never in a million years thought I would be doing what I am doing, but every experience added up to prepare me for it. I kept an open mind to what might be in store for me.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Matt, Excellent. Hadn’t heard that from Acuff. Love it. Me too. It’s a long and winding road. Hope your vacation was excellent.

  5. MJ Gottlieb

    Hi Karin,

    Great post. I think it is so important for people know that most people fail their way into success. This story is also a great story about the importance of the ‘means’ as opposed to the ‘end’ as he went through so many great experiences and did so many things in order to eventually take those experiences and use the context of those experiences to do what eventually became his calling. Again, great post. Best-MJ

    • letsgrowleaders

      MJ, thanks for deepening the conversation. Agreed… the magic is in the synthesis… and the courage to do synthesize.

  6. Jim Ryan

    Nice. I loved Bonaire. Didn’t meet The Captain though. Were you diving?

    • letsgrowleaders

      Jim, Awesome. Met too… when did you go? Yes, we were diving. Loved it. Favorite site as 1000 steps.

      • Jim Ryan

        It was over 10 years ago so I forget the dive names. I enjoyed the national park. I loved that you could walk right from the beach. Did you happen to see the flamingos?

        • letsgrowleaders

          Jim, Just a few flamingos… but cool.

  7. Bob (@Culture_Ninja)

    Great stuff Karin! I actually wrote that down, “Your best journey may be in new waters. Look up to chart a new course.”

    Add that to Matt’s “fight” post this morning and I’m all sorts of pumped up today! 😉

    • letsgrowleaders

      Bob, GREAT! Pumped is what is all about.

  8. David Tumbarello

    Once again, reading these comments make me feel like I am in a graduate course in leadership. Thanks for taking time to write these provoking pieces, Karin!

    • Dave Bratcher

      And might I add, they come from real life not a theoretical “What if…”! Keep it up Karin!

    • letsgrowleaders

      David, so glad to have you in this community. Namaste.

  9. Steve Broe

    Thanks for this reflection of a remarkable man, Karin. Over and over, I find evidence that our past is not a dictate for our destiny. Everyday we begin a new opportunity to make a big difference. Charge into a bright future.

  10. Sridhar Laxman

    Thank you for sharing such an inspiring post, Captain has indeed “lived his script”. Reiterates my belief that there is so much greatness around and within us.Those who continue to look for it, eventually find it and yes, an open mind is where it all begins.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Sridhar, thanks so much for your comment. I totally agree… there is much greatness within and around us. Namaste.

  11. Angela K


    I loved this story. This Captain kept pushing and pushing after failure and not having success. He had passion..Sometimes we get into work and go on w the day to day business and we loose sight of our passion. We look back a year ago at how passionate and excited we are to come to work. It’s important to always remember that feeling. Thanks for the post. Feeling inspired!!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Angela, great to have you in the conversation. Completely agree. It’s also important to notice when we’re not feeling it and consider why.

  12. Gwen Edwards

    This is really insightful. I like the quick lsist at the bottom – not letting success be a derailer is really an ‘aha’!
    I love, love, love this blog.
    Thanks for taking time to do it for us everyday.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Thanks so much for you very kind comments. I am humbled and happy. Namaste.

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