There I sat, trying to explain to my son that there was a time-not so long ago-when there was no such tecnology as vehicle navigation. Your mom, I said, would sit shotgun, Thomas Guide in hand, calling out street names so that I could get us to our destination. “A what?” In those days we knew our streets and more often than not simply left the Thomas Guide in the glove box. We were forced to be informed and to drive with strategic direction.
Today, no one knows where they are headed, yet each arrive at their destination. It’s a curious phenomenon. Led by technology, without fear of error, we plug the address in and go. Previously, a wrong turn meant forced reevaluation and research to avoid getting lost. Today, the delay is short and penetrated by an annoying-yet reaffirming-voice; “Recalculating!” Within moments harmony is restored in the universe and our direction and goals clearly set, complete with a fairly accurate timetable. If all goes well, “You have arrived at your destination!”
Ditch the Nav
As a leader, you have to have an inner dependency on the “still, small voice” and forget about the noise that surrounds you. People telling you to turn right, find the off ramp, or to make a U-turn will only have you recalculating until you are useless as a leader or all hope of effectiveness ebbs away in a consuming fog. You are the leader for a reason, and it is not because you have depended on another to navigate your course. Not entirely anyway. You have been able to decipher the voices in your life that make you better, and ignore those who do not. That’s why you are where you are.
Enjoy the Drive
Don’t input the destination, rather return to your roots. Do the research, plot the course, and know where you are going. The problem with the navigation system is that you drive dumb, ignore the journey, and the final location is fixed. Leaders who start with a destination in mind, yet embrace the journey, often find themselves in a final location that is much different than the one they planned. They drive down the side streets and alleyways because something caught their eye, something of interest. They stop from time to time to take in the sites and gain knowledge which makes them stronger and more capable leaders. They become so independent that the only time they hear “recalculating” is when that still small voice is shouting for strategic directional change. They own that change and their world is better for it.