After I collected the remains of my belongings and self-esteem, I got to thinking... What caused this hysterical blooper? And then it hit me ... I stepped on a crack. This immediately time-warped me back to my childhood days when there was molten hot lava under every sidewalk in North America and I, a fearless trailblazer, was determined to avoid having my feet burned off in a tragic accident... much like what happened to me yesterday. Oh, what I would have given to have been paying attention to where I was stepping instead of trying to think of a hilarious hashtag for my most recent tweet.
I began to reflect on this childhood game that we all used to play and it really started speaking to me ... in a leadership kind of way. Let's break it down for a second: On any journey towards an ultimate destination, you would walk cautiously, keeping your eyes on the ground with extreme focus. Sometimes you would have to slow down, shuffle your feet and take a few smaller-than-normal awkward steps to avoid a crack. Other times you would have to speed up and jump to barely squeak by a crack a few feet ahead ... and stick the landing with a quick wave to the audience (irritated Mom). Sometimes you would have to judge 3 or 4 cracks ahead to ensure that you had the appropriate amount of hop-skip-jumps planned out to clear all of them in one fell swoop. Ultimately, you would reach your destination with burn-free feet and a reluctant high-five from Mom.
Alright, analogy time. As leaders, we are often so focused on our final destination that we sometimes step on a crack and launch our glasses into the middle of the street, all to find that our final destination has been towed and now our elbows are bleeding. So, instead, let's channel our inner 6 year old and play a little game of "don't step on the cracks".
As a leader, there are times when you have to slow down, change your pace and re-evaluate the steps that you are taking ... shuffle your feet a little bit in order to better prepare for an upcoming obstacle or challenge - one that you may not have seen if you were solely focused on the ultimate goal. There are also times when you need to take a risk, a leap of faith in order to clear an obstacle and land safely on the other side. And there are also times when you need to have foresight and look ahead to challenges three or four cracks in the future and create a current action plan to overcome them.
As you can see, there is no easy way for us leaders to get to our final destination ... there will always be cracks along the way. The trick is to pay attention to these cracks and adapt to them. You will never be able to get from A to B with the exact same pace and strategy; Leadership requires much more than that. Be flexible, adapt, welcome change. You will reach your destination much more effectively ... and if you do miss a crack because you're busy tweeting - get up, brush yourself off, LAUGH, and keep moving towards your goal.