Two Steps and Four Landmines

Blazing new trails is tougher than staying where you are. We usually chose escalating frustration over the perils of moving forward.

There are two steps in forward movement. The first is easier than the second.

Running start

Stepping away:

The smaller step of forward movement begins with reacting against an unsatisfying past.

  1. I don’t like.
  2. This isn’t working.
  3. I don’t want.
  4. Something has to stop.
  5. That’s not right.

But, stepping away is, at best, half a solution. Stepping away only works if it includes stepping toward.

Leadership requires stepping toward.

Stepping toward:

The deeper question is where you are going.

Dissatisfaction seldom has legs.

Peter Drucker said it best, “Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.”

The language of “NO” characterizes reacting against. Stepping toward requires the language of “YES.”

  1. I like.
  2. This works.
  3. I want.
  4. Something has to start.
  5. This is right.

5 requirements for stepping toward:

  1. Forward facing goals. “We’re working to ______.”
  2. Clarity. Are you working on the process or changing the goal.
  3. Risk. Past strategies didn’t work. Future strategies are uncertain.
  4. Mistake-making. Your best didn’t work. Trying something else may not work either. Learn and adapt quickly.
  5. Encouragement. Honor effort even when results disappoint. Unappreciated people lose heart.

4 Landmines:

Chances are you’re great at reacting against. But, reacting against, on its own, creates ineffective, dis-empowering, negative environments.

  1. Stepping toward without identifying the problem. If the present is satisfactory, no one is interested in leaving it behind.
  2. Ignoring the good intentions and hard work of those stuck in the process.
  3. Focusing on what isn’t working. The fastest path to negative environments is talking about problems all the time.
  4. Talking without taking responsibility. Leaders who talk without taking ownership solidify the past with excuse-making and blaming.