Byron's Babbles

Leading in the Fog

I love my OnStar system in my truck. In addition to the visual and audio turn by turn, I like being told where I am in relation to reaching my destination. I was reminded how important this is in Lesson #4, Vision in the Fog, in 52 Leadership Lessons: Timeless Stories For The Modern Leader by John Parker Stewart. The story of Florence Chadwick was told in this lesson. The basic gist of the story was that the first time she attempted the 26 mile crossing she failed because of a heavy fog. In 1952 she made her first attempt to swim across the saltwater channel from Catalina Island to the California Coast. She quit within a mile of completion because she did not know where she was. How many times this happened to us? On her second attempt, Chadwick was able to complete the swim successfully. Even though there was another heavy fog on her second attempt, Chadwick said she was successful because she focused on an image of the coastline in her mind. This image made it possible for her to keep her “mind’s eye” on the prize. So, how do we keep what happened on Florence Chadwick’s first attempt at swimming the channel from occurring in our own life or the lives of the organizations we lead? How do we keep from getting close to a goal and maybe quitting right before success can be realized?

“Do not let the fog of daily minutia obscure the grandeur of your goal.” ~ John Parker Stewart

Every person has reached a point in his life when he wanted something very badly, but he was discouraged and ready to quit. We’ve all had things we strongly desired, but we’ve all failed in reaching some of those goals. Some would call this being faced with the choice between continuing to fight a “hopeless” battle or allowing yourself the relief of giving up. I would argue that no battle is “hopeless.” I believe we get stronger each time we don’t quit. Each time we continue fighting, we get a little more assurance that we can hold out and achieve the things we want to achieve. Had Florence Chadwick just fought a little longer during her first attempt at the saltwater channel she would have made it. As leaders we must also provide assurance that we know where we are going. We must serve as a lighthouse in the fog.img_2083

Therefore, it is important for us to have a clearly defined target. We must also create benchmarks so, like OnStar giving destination updates, we will know where we are in relation to achieving our personal and organizational goals. Stewart told us in 52 Leadership Lessons: Timeless Stories For The Modern Leader that we must visualize what victory looks like. This will keep us going when we meet any type of resistance. Plan and work toward your goal. Show persistence. Don’t recognize failure. Ignore failure. Keep fighting. Persist until you win. Prepare to win by mitigating risks and distractions.

What will you do the next time you meet an obstacle? What will you use as your OnStar for reaching your destination? As a leader, how can you be the OnStar turn by turn service for your organization?

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