Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Leadership parkour

Back in the glory days, a few of my wonderful friends and I spent an evening running around, jumping off of random blocks, log-rolling along the sidewalk, and generally making fools of ourselves ... all in the name of being extremely hip and with-it because, ofcourse, we were "parkouring". If by chance you aren't as avant-garde as my "posse" was, check it out ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEeqHj3Nj2c (what the pros look like) / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_1Ezczq06I (what we looked like).

Why do I bring this up? Well, after my previous childhood wisdom post, I started delving further into my thoughts with respect to the concept of a personal "leadership journey". In CW, we looked at the EXTERNAL journey ... so now I want to turn the tables and look internally.When I think about the internal development that every leader goes through, it becomes evident that it is far from a straight line. Instead of walking casually from A to B, it is much more like parkouring from A - B ... well, A-D-concussion-Q-upside down-F-M-L-flip-B.

Now, I know that this may get confused with my previous post ... so remember that we are focusing on how you develop your self-concept as a leader, not the way that you act as one.

I use the parkour analogy because it is vital that you are INTENTIONAL about your internal development, instead of just walking aimlessly towards a location. You need to identify things to jump over, to bounce off of, to roll over, to use as a platform. Every point of contact is an opportunity to learn, improve strength, re-calculate your journey and look ahead to locate your next strategy.

In development, much like in parkour, the course can be busy with a lot of highs and lows, big gaps and tall obstacles ... an ever-changing environment filled with distractions and challenges. And the objective is to get to the desired state with the least amount of scrapes and bruises. Now the fascinating thing about parkour, which ties back to our own leadership journey, is that "parkourers" (like myself) don't go from A to B as quickly as possible ... instead, they go from A to B by making contact with as many different objects as possible.

This, my friends, is the hidden gem of parkour. Often, we look at our leadership development as being linear instead of letting ourselves ricochet off of whatever point of contact we ACTUALLY need at that exact moment in time, regardless of what or who it is.

So with this, we can identify some takeaways from our fearless friends who jump around like cheetahs through the city streets. When travelling through our own personal leadership development, we must see our path for what it truly is ... risky, exciting, ever-changing, full of people and places that we can use as touch-points, and almost entirely contingent on an accurate assessment of our abilities and needs at any given moment in time. Parkourers know themselves - they know their own strengths and abilities, they know what they should do next to cater to these strengths, and they know exactly what they need to push themselves over their next hurdle. But most of all, they TRUST themselves to do it safely and successfully.

Sounds a lot like self-awareness and leadership to me.

"Success is not a matter of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire." - Fred Shero

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