Sometimes the smallest thing can shift our mindset and turn a potentially stressful, hazardous day into one of the best ever.
Have you ever had a light-bulb moment where something you read, or someone said, occurred at exactly the right time and seemed to crystallise everything going on around you? Earlier this year, this happened to me.
My family and I were enjoying a week’s holiday on the Gold Coast of Australia. While we were there, the ocean had a particularly strong swell and was serving up massive, towering waves. During a morning walk I came across this sign on the beach. While its message was clearly intended for those entering the turbulent water, I was struck by how well it also captured the challenges being faced by many business leaders today. In particular, those working in large, complex organisations and facing relentless change. The sign read:
‘Great day to be alive beach goers. Unstable conditions at times, flash rips pulling off back of bank into deep water. Dumping waves breaking onto shallow sandbank. Swim within your limits’.
As you enter your workplace today, you may be met by a barrage of fires needing to be fought, growing uncertainties, disgruntled stakeholders and unmet expectations – all consequences of major strategic change. Leading during these times can be tough. People naturally look to their leaders for answers and yet often our understanding is only slightly ahead of their own.
So what’s a leader to do?
See the opportunities not just the challenges - with change, often comes opportunity but you won’t see it if you’re not looking.
Remind yourself what’s really important and where the value in the change really lies. Let customer-value creation be your guide, because if change is not creating value for customers, it's usually eroding it.
When leading during times of significant change, it can feel like you're not getting anywhere. It’s like digging in dry sand, when you scoop out a handful of sand, twice as much falls back into the hole. When this happens, it's easy to become disheartened. If you feel like this, set yourself three things to achieve today that will create value. It doesn’t matter how small they are, just set yourself the challenge and relentlessly pursue them until their done.
Finally, if it all feels too much, take a deep-breath and remember this final insight from the Gold Coast lifeguard.
‘If you think you are too small to makes a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito’.
Have a fantastic day!