Last April, here on the blog I asked the question: What’s stopping you from moving forward? And to answer it, I used the metaphor of paddling a kayak. Today, I have another metaphor to address the same question.
Imagine a bungee cord
Imagine a bungee cord. One end is attached to a fixed object and the other is hooked to the back of your belt. As long as you stay close to the stationary end, the cord remains loose and there is no tension. But as you walk away, the slack in the cord will begin to tighten and you’ll feel a pull on your back. Continue to step away and you’ll find that eventually it will be a struggle to keep going. In fact, not only will the bungee cord hold you back from moving forward, but you will also be at serious risk of either losing your pants or getting smacked by a broken bungee.
All of us have bungee cords attached to us, links to the past that hold us back from moving forward. And the more we try to get ahead, the more the stress and tension grows forcing us to stay where we are. And often the fear of losing our pants or getting smacked by the broken bungee keeps us from continuing to try. Continue reading
I often explore what it takes to achieve goals, to get beyond the “hope” stage and actually create concrete results. In fact, earlier this year, I blogged about the importance of a “structured” vessel when one seeks to achieve goals. Today’s blog post explores another aspect of setting and achieving goals – this time the importance of action.
Multi-speed bikes are an asset
When I was a child, I rode a single speed bicycle. It didn’t matter whether I was biking up a hill or racing down a gravel road, my bike had just one gear, and I had to adjust my effort and speed in order to compensate for the riding conditions. As I grew older though, I realized that one could actually make the bicycle-riding experience easier and more enjoyable by getting a 3-speed, a 10-speed or even a 21-speed bike. The greatest benefit of a multiple-speed bicycle was that I could adjust the pedaling resistance to ride more easily over a greater variety of terrains. Brilliant!
Shortly after I got my first 10-speed bike, I quickly realized one additional and extremely vital fact – in order to switch gears, you had to be moving. Continue reading
As a leader, you no doubt have a multitude of issues to deal with – and what usually happens is that the crises get dealt with, but often everything else seems to drag on. Thus, it’s useful to periodically ask yourself the question – what’s stopping you from moving forward? Whether it’s streamlining an outdated work process, dealing with an ongoing interpersonal conflict, or getting that big project on your to-do list started, what is preventing you from moving forward? I have a metaphoric perspective to offer.
Is your kayak moving forward?
Here in the northern hemisphere, as the days get longer and the mercury begins to claw its way up out of the negative digits, collective minds turn to spring and upcoming warm-weather leisure activities. I am no exception as I think longingly of my favourite watersport – kayaking.
Sitting low to the water at dawn, legs outstretched, the blades of my paddle slicing through the water like a knife through butter, moving almost silently across the vast expanse of the calm harbour, the stillness broken only by the rhythmic gentle sound of the oars and an occasional call of a seabird. For me, the image evokes both serenity and triumph. Serenity because kayaking gives me time to think. And triumph because several miles of kayaking makes me feel like I’ve gotten a good workout. But the picture-perfect scene quickly shatters …. when I realize that my kayak is still tied to the dock!
What is your workplace equivalent?
Sure, laugh if you must; I did too (well, much later) when it happened to me. But I bring it up to make a very specific point. Continue reading
The Mexican state of Veracruz is bordered on the east by endless stretches of dark sand beaches that gently flatten into the Gulf of Mexico. To get from the main coastal highway to the beach, you usually have to travel through one or more sleepy villages on your way to the ocean. One such small village (pop. 500) is Chilahuite. Like most small coastal communities, the single road that runs through town is also where everything happens – children play, friends meet, daily trade is conducted, beverages are sipped and gossip exchanged sitting on plastic chairs on the side of the road. But as Mexico has commercialized and grown, city folk from the large urban centres are increasingly visiting the beaches, and traffic in these small little villages has multiplied. Not only has the number of vehicles increased exponentially, but most newcomers ignore the posted speed limits of 30 kms/hr (about 18 miles/hr), creating dangerous situations for the townspeople who are used to a much slower and sedate pace. In Chilahuite, the complaining has been endless. For at least two years (if not more), I have heard people grumble about how “someone should do something”, each hoping that the municipality would either install los topes (Spanish for speed bumps), or increase patrols to enforce the speed limit. Unfortunately, despite the complaining, no visible action has been taken. It took a fatal accident earlier this year for the villagers to finally take matters into their own hands. Because asphalt and concrete are expensive in Mexico, the townspeople devised another solution. They obtained heavy rope (made from natural fibres) and laid it across the main road at frequent intervals – instant topes. As they were able to raise enough money, they covered the ropes with a thin layer of asphalt to create a more permanent solution. “I don’t know why we waited this long,” commented one of the old-timers. “We should have just taken action ourselves a lot earlier instead of waiting for someone else to do something.”
Are you grumbling about how so-and-so should do this-and-that? Are you waiting for someone else to get things done? Perhaps it’s time to become the doer instead of the observer, to step up and act. Stop waiting for someone else to do it, take action and do it for yourself!
The storm raged for two days. The wind gusted furiously and thunderously as the ocean waves boiled and seethed, crashing endlessly upon the shore. For two days, intimidated by the power of the ocean, neither swimmers nor fishermen dared go into the water. But then finally, on the third day, the weather gods came to the rescue. As I walked out on to the patio of the beach house, the sun was inching up over the horizon, and the deepening blue sky held promise for a clear and sunny day ahead. Continue reading