Trickle to a Force

Come with me, high up into the Andes of Arequipa Peru. Allow me to lead you to this specific spot, covered in snow, near a small trickle of water, marked many years ago with a small white cross. As you ponder the cross and absorb the delicate sounds of melting snow, allow your senses to find peace. Here on this mountain, is a melting snowflake with one of two destinies. If that snowflake melts and its liquid form heads west, it will eventually end up in the Pacific Ocean. If it drips to the East, it will begin a four thousand mile journey to the Atlantic, known as the Amazon River.

I have been there. I have canoed the Amazon. I have let that river take control. It is a raging behemoth of energy that brings power, force, and life (sometimes death) to everything it touches. It is mighty.

It’s an amazing thought that a melting snowflake on the cliff of a mountain named Nevado Mismi eventually becomes the world’s largest river. As the water joins with other waters is steadily grows to become a formidable force. Until—at last—219,000 cubic meters of water per second rush into the Atlantic ocean on the eastern coast of Brazil.

As leaders, we should remember that each little spark of an idea has the potential to become a transformational force in our organizations. We must constantly scan the horizon, asking; “What other ideas can I bring together with this one to create something mightier, something almost uncontrollable.” Truly transformational leaders possess the innate ability to see the bigger picture and assimilate data while on the journey. Just like the Amazon, as you combine, connect, and let thoughts incubate, the sum of those thoughts become something greater than the parts.

The next time you have that small, lateral thought, STOP! Throw it out to your team or your direct reports. See if the streams of thought come together as something larger. Navigate the flow. Let it move you to places you would not otherwise go. Continue to let it take you on its journey. Allow it to turn that Trickle into a Force.

Self Leadership

(Reposted from August 14, 2016)

I woke this morning to two things. First, a notification on my phone of motion on my home security system. It turned out to be a moth buzzing the cameras. Second, news coming out of Milwaukee that riots are taking place because of the escalated national violence and sensitivities that mark the day.

It strikes me that the polarization we are undergoing as a nation is nearing the point of no return. It seems everyone is looking in the wrong place for leadership. Leadership starts with self.

When leadership is looked for through dependence it is never healthy. When we entrust others to define and implement our futures we subjugate ourselves. We must each define the future that we want to see for ourselves and it does not start with blowing up the system, but becoming part of the system.

I am privileged to work with many different associations to help them define their future paths and roles among their members. One thing remains constant, the newer members of the organization see the old guard and define the gap. The elder members see the gap as well, and their approaches to change rarely find common ground. The older members must seek to include the younger and benefit from their input and participation. The younger members must seek to engage and allow their voices to be heard. What typically happens is that the older exclude the younger, and the younger want to blow up the system. This leads to a passive-aggressive—or sometimes aggressive—struggle for change. This season of “Storming’” can be detrimental to the organization if not handled well. Each individual in such a situation needs to refrain from being part of a group voice and seek their role as a diplomat in that situation. The harmony in an organization is more important than individual need or agenda. But most people are sheep. They seek another’s leadership to get behind. I contend we all need to be leaders starting as leaders of one… self.

Back to our current reality…

While the nation struggles, I wonder how things would change if everyone would take a leadership role in their own life and not subjugate themselves to a group.

Are you waiting for a political party to solve your issues? A movement? A business? A house of faith? Another person? None of those people care for you like you do. They don’t wake up in the morning and think “I need to make sure Rick is well provided for today and feels a deep sense of security!” No, that’s Rick’s job. The world is cruel and doesn’t give a lick about Rick.

Until we are happy with ourselves and refuse to be dependent on a system or another, we will not be free to pursue self-fulfillment. Take stock, who do you depend on for your sense of purpose and wellbeing? If it is other than God and family you are not free and you cannot blame that on anyone but yourself. Lead yourself.

Here’s my final thought. What I am watching in Milwaukee today represents the moth in my home. I know that for the rest of the day that moth is going to fly around and activate my alarm system. So today, my alarm system is worthless. I will need to fight the tendency to ignore it because by ignoring it I am vulnerable. But I will, unfortunately, ignore the moth.