I know summer is just beginning, but I just returned from my most exciting vacation ever! We decided to explore the South of France without a tour or even a guide. I was determined to do my critical research and create an itinerary that would include both historical places as well as fun in the sun. For months I planned this precious journey with precision and specification, leaving no detail unturned. I had a printed itinerary with each day’s activities, including the restaurants we would dine in each night. I was ready to tackle the roads from Provence to the Riviera with everything in place. So as the plane took off, I breathed a sigh of contentment- the time was finally here for me to enjoy all my hard labor. My plan was in place! Charge! Well not exactly.
The thing about France is that there are so many roundabouts and so many parallel roads that one can easily get lost. Add to that, a GPS that malfunctions and what resulted was a “J” (Myers-Briggs) totally going berserk! All my well thought out plans went out the window and I was lost, in many ways. After my initial feelings of panic and feeling totally out of my comfort zone in a foreign land, I stepped back, took a deep breath and started to focus. I knew I had to regroup, recalibrate and give into being lost. It was at that point, my spectacular journey began for real.
Getting lost was the missing piece of my adventure.
Getting lost allowed me to see different viewpoints.
Getting lost opened my mind to a whole new journey.
The same can be said of leadership- sometimes we learn the most and lead the best when we allow ourselves to get lost. Here’s why:
Leaders can become myopic- Did you ever feel like you were overly consumed with one particular perspective of an issue? You knew it wasn’t working or that something had to be changed, but you were unable to find an alternative approach. You addressed all the bullet points, but still were not resolving the situation in the best possible way. The truth is you needed to get lost and view the challenge from a fresh perspective.
Leaders hate to stray from an agenda- When you meet with people, you want to make sure you cover all of your essential points, so you devise a meticulous agenda. You keep that agenda in front of you at all times in order to stay on track. Different items crop up during the discussion and all of a sudden you are caught off guard. You went into the meeting knowing what you had to accomplish, but the dialogue starts to go in a direction you had not planned. New and very relevant concerns are brought up and you sense the passion from another. Do you stick to your well thought-out list or do you just get lost?
Leaders have a hard time giving up ownership: When you work hard on a project and you are near the finish line, it can feel satisfying. I felt this way about my itinerary after I had put so much time and research into it. Then, a change happens, and the project needs to move in a different direction. You did not see this coming nor did you anticipate the shift. It can feel frustrating, yet you know you must swivel. This is the time to get lost. This is the moment that a true leader emerges, reaching out for other people’s suggestions and letting go of the initial path.
Leadership is all about getting lost.
Have you ever gotten lost while leading? How did that feel and what did you do?