There will be rough terrain. It may feel like we’re traveling in circles at times. Mountains we aren’t sure we will be able to crest.
But we will also experience majestic views. Strengthen our mental and physical muscles. Look back on our journey with a sense of accomplishment.
We are each following our own map. A map that leads to who we aspire to be. Whether we realize it or not.
Every twist and turn. Every dark night. Every boulder and ravine.
Wherever it is that we think we’re headed, our destination is the same. We are all headed to the version of ourselves that is waiting. Waiting for us to experience what we must experience along our journey.
While fear, disappointment, or hurt are possible – and highly likely – along the way…there’s also joy, love, and excitement to be found. When the path is rough, remember that it’s all part of the journey. The map that will get you to the you of your dreams.
This week, I’m in Florida, spending time with witches and wizards. My son and I have been reading the first Harry Potter book over the last few weeks in preparation for butter beer, chocolate frogs, and casting spells.
While literal spells and witchcraft are not a part of my life, I do believe in magic. The magic of possibilities. Of inspiration. Of joy and love.
Magicians transform what is into what can be. Fix what is broken. Unlock doors.
We do not need a wand or crystal ball to create magic in our own lives, or that of our families and teams. Being present, creating opportunities, or resolving challenges – they may all sound simple, but can be powerful to those around us.
Open yourself to magic, and you can transform your life and that of those around you. And if you happen to keep a magic wand in your office (I do), all the better.
Sometimes, I feel like we are all in the middle of a vast ocean, looking for an elusive oasis.
The water could alternately be calm, with a light current that carries us along, or rough, with waves of change crashing all around.
We all react to our circumstances differently, but there are definite patterns.
If we spend our time treading water, we will do a lot of work and not get very far. Our energy gets spent, we stay in the same place, and we’re worn out before the water even starts to get rough.
Some of us float, letting the current take us where it may. While we’ll move forward, it’s at the whim of our environment, rather than choice.
Picking a direction and moving forward is the only way to get anywhere fast. We may not know what’s on the other end, but it’s not here.
When rough water comes, as it is bound to do, some of us will dive under the waves. While we’re less likely to get hit, we can only hold our breath for so long. At some point, we’re going to get hit when we come up, but we won’t know when it’s coming.
Instead, we should keep our head above water and figure out how to ride the waves. Not every wave will be ours, but we can move with them until we see the perfect one. It’s possible we will crash and feel like we’re drowning. But along the way, we’ll have the best view, and experience a rush like no other.
There may be times when we all need to tread water or float, just to keep our heads above water. But keep an eye out for the waves – changes in our environment – as they represent our biggest challenges and opportunities.
Mistakes. We all make them. Some big. Some small.
Then there are those we carry with us. The ones we can recount years later, hopefully on one hand (maybe two).
Most folks will say “put it behind you” or “move on.” While that is commendable advice, some mistakes require addressing before that.
If you get that sinking feeling in your belly, it’s not going to go away. Having trouble sleeping? The mistake has to be addressed.
Likely, the mistakes that don’t sit well are those that involve other people. For example, delivering something late may not keep us up at night. If it impacts someone else’s work, that’s a different matter.
No matter how big a mistake, there are steps we can take to move forward.
1. Own It
Apologize. Genuinely. Demonstrate an understanding of the wrong – what it is and why it is.
2. Fix It
If possible, undo, redo and/or fix whatever the mistake is. If this is not possible, the best we can do is…
3. Prevent It
Consider the root cause of the mistake. What could be done differently next time to preclude it from happening again? The only way mistakes turn into failure is if we fail to learn from them.
4. Close It
Once you’ve done what you can to make things right, and keep them right, let it go. Get a good night’s sleep, as you’ve done what you can.
5. Check It
While it is important to move on, it is equally important to ensure the mistake is a one time event. We can all reflect, whether it’s weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually on how we’re doing relative to our goals. Add a checkpoint regarding prevention measures to ensure they are still appropriate and working as intended.
There is no time table for these steps. The important part is to begin. The sooner we apologize and try to make it right, however, the more likely it is that we can salvage a relationship that might otherwise be at risk.
None of us operate independently in this world. We are an interdependent species, reliant on relationships for our health and well-being, our livelihood and success.
Whether we are service provider to customer, nurse to patient, employee to manager, or friend to friend. Our relationships can make all the difference between moving forward successfully or getting stuck in the mire.
The best relationships are built upon a spirit of giving. Each side invested in the other. A mutual enterprise built on reciprocity (not score-keeping).
We cannot talk our way to those kinds of relationships. We have to put in the time and energy. We have to give to get.
Our actions speak louder than our words. We can shout. We can scream. Our actions can belie or silence our words in but a moment.
Look around. Who are those that are fully present in our lives? Who are we fully present for?
When times get hard, those are the ones who stay with us. Relationships built on words are in the wind when it blows. Those built on actions are what ground us and help us ride it out.
As leaders, our job is to inspire. To motivate. To develop and encourage others to be the best version of themselves, delivering their best work. To be the light that guides the way of others.
All of us have the ability to be the light for someone else. To shine a light in the dark places. To provide hope when they feel despair. To help them move one foot forward, which will beget another. And another.
Whether we are the light, or one who reflects that light to shine the way for others, we are making the world a brighter place. The team a positive environment. The company a place where we gather as colleagues and friends, instead of just cubicle-mates.
Either be the light or pass it on. Don’t extinguish it.