Prompt: What about your leadership journey might not work? Does describing the chasm in front of you make it more likely that you'll fall in?
Simple answers. Everything and yes. Everything might not work and describing the chasm can only guarantee that I am likely to fall into it. I vividly remember mountain biking in the woods (we don't have mountains in Michigan) and crossing a narrow bridge thinking to myself "don't hug the edge, don't hug the edge" so what do I do? Hug the edge so close I heard a gasp from the rider behind me. Thankfully I didn't fall in, but I went exactly where I told myself not to go.
Or is it that simple?
Of course everything could fail and chances are even if you planned out your worst case scenario you might encounter more failure that your pessimistic self had planned on. Isn't that leadership? Perhaps the concept of going from point A to point B totally pain free isn't a mark of good leadership, but instead great planning and low risk taking.
I think the biggest fear for me is the fear of failing. As a husband and father of three I need to succeed and for me success is doing well at my job so I can keep the lights on and afford a meal out once in a while. I see stepping out as a leader in the framework of going solo, or starting up with a small team of coworkers and that scares me. Not only to be responsible for my family, but for the team as well. The thing is, I don't think leadership needs to happen on such a high level. Leadership could probably be something as simple as staring a push and getting people to realize that using refillable water bottles is better for the planet. Sure it isn't big, sure big beverage will come after you because you aren't tossing their empty bottles in the recycle bin or trash, but it is a difference that anyone can make and no one needs permission to start. If we are honest with each other I'd guess that a high percentage of people have a great idea or movement they want to lead, but they are too scared to take the first step. I'm there myself. Perhaps I will fail. Perhaps I'll lead and whoever is with me will fall off a cliff like a bunch of lemmings. Zig Ziglar has a line in his motivational speeches that goes something like "Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday really did end last night." It is so easy to look at what could or did go wrong and put a face to that failure. Stop it. Perfection is a myth, and failure is most definitely a certainty, but failure only lasts as long as you let it.
Now that I've laid out my ideas on what could fail will I fall victim to it and tumble down the chasm? If I do I hope it is one heck of a ride, but I don't think I will. I think that laying out what could fail is a great place to start and to establish that this chasm is the boundary. Some people like to think in the box, some like to think out of the box, or you could call it constraint. I think constraints are good, I doubt any fantastic creativity wasn't fueled by constraints that first seemed suffocating. I abhor it when a boss or co-worker says something like "Well, can't you just______?" NO OF COURSE I can't other wise I would have... but I didn't... because I didn't think of the problem in the terms of my boss who asked the question... and then it hits me. The solution or the answer or the thing to do next that I couldn't think of because I hadn't taken the time to appropriately define the chasm I was standing on the edge of. Chasms help us draw up the first steps in our leadership march. How do we get from A to B. Do we go around the chasm? Through it? Over it? Under it? Hey what if we filled it!? Defining failure (the chasm) gives us the space to be creative. We just have to take it.
Maybe I should get a t-shirt "Chasms are our friends"...