Leadership Lesson #4: You will probably not crash to your death
Category : leadership
Author’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles about the leadership lessons learned while hiking Usery Mountain with my 17-year-old son.
There are parts of the trail that are steep, where you barely have a toe-hold grip. Your back is up against the cliff wall and speed (see Lesson #3) is not an option. Rather, you must progress methodically and carefully and be confident in your footing.
The only help available to you is some prickly shrubs, which frankly, hurt more than they help.
Every step you take feels risky and you begin to wonder what crazy idea put you up on this mountain to begin with. And then you stop that train of thought. Abruptly. Because it’s not helping.
Instead, you take a breath and find purchase on the mountain. Each step begins tentatively as you ease into it, then becomes confident as you feel supported by the mountain, albeit tenuously supported.
You suddenly realize . . . you will probably not crash to your death.
Thousands upon thousands of people have traveled this rugged and rocky path before you. The valley below your current narrow passage is not littered with their bodies.
No, you will probably not crash to your death.
As it is on the mountain, it is in leadership.
As a leader, you take risks. You venture out on the narrow passageway with your back up against the wall. And more often than not, things work out. You score a new client. The acquisition is a success. The unconventional employee you hire thrives.
Occasionally, however, they don’t work out so well. And do you crash to your death? No. Hardly.
What happens then? You learn from it. Hard lessons sometimes. You might even call them failures. And that’s a good thing these days. Failure is in vogue. It’s about time!
The faster you learn from your mishaps, the less likely they are to happen again. And the more transparent you are about your mistakes, the less likely they are to repeat within your organization.
And when things do work out well after you’ve had your back up against the wall and your footing has been unsteady?
The rewards are tremendous.
Sure the accolades from others are welcome, but the real reward comes from inside. When you look back across the narrow path you traveled, with all its inherent risk and potential peril, and truly acknowledge that you made it to the other side (sometimes unscathed), that’s where the deep reward is.
What are you waiting for?
You will probably not crash to your death.
Go take that risk!
Catch the full series of blog posts of my Lessons on Leadership from the Side of a Mountain.