Two men approach a river full of rocks and rapids with their boats. The first man says to himself, “My birchbark canoe will be destroyed!” The second man says to himself, “What a playground for my kayak!”
Leaders have both “mindset” and “boat” challenges going forward.
Two things are a given: (1) We’re in river rapids, not placid lake waters. (2) People are still people, with the power of choice.
Historians years from now will get to label the transition time period we’re living in, but we can all agree that we’re living in one. Technology and communication advances, social changes, challenges to the capabilities of existing economic and government models, realignment of world powers – there are many echoes back to the Italian Renaissance. We don’t yet know where this leads us.
People are still fundamentally and biologically people. We have the power to choose. We do not have to be victims of changes beyond our control.
The great leadership opportunity of these challenging times begins with your personal mindset. There is a transition we must make, a new identity for the future. The successful approach is to lean in, expect hard, and go forward. Guard against the entitlement attitudes which lead to complacency which carries you into vulnerability.
Once we have the positive adventure mindset for our river rapids, we need to create better boats for the times to come. “Boats” could be everything from your daily rituals to team focus areas to organizational structure to business models. All these things go into creating a tool – a boat – that allows you not only to survive a short run of rapids but thrive in rapids as the new normal.
Boats aren’t just for you. They can carry others safely, too – even people who don’t know how to steer or are fearful of rapids.
The new boat designs won’t be apparent to you until you take hold of the leadership mindset. This will be a daily battle because the old ways of thinking have tremendous gravitational pull. So, begin with the mindset work. Make decisions today, and tomorrow, that feed your “Lean in, expect hard” mindset.
The rapids await you.