While driving home today I had a great conversation with my mom and was listening to Marlene Chism’s audiobook Stop Workplace Drama. Filled with the ideas from talking with Mom and intermingling them with a concept Marlene brings up about growth and the occasional fear of it I had a vision pop in my head. It was so insightful that I had to pause the audiobook and think on it for a while. No, I wasn’t having “a vision” so much as I saw a visual of a metaphor from a while back.
In one of Jim Collins’ books he shares a rock climbing experience in which he is trying to make a climb on his first attempt. As he works his way up he gets to a point where he gets stuck and the rock is a little loose and crumbly. His adrenaline pumping he does the natural thing and grips harder… which tires him out and causes more rock to crumble. He gets more nervous and grips even harder onto the evermore fragile rock. It feels right, its the natural reflex. In reality, the best move he could have made was to relax, loosen his grip a bit, drop down a little, and determine a new path. The end goal is still the same, the route to it needs to be changed slightly. He should have loosened his grip and shifted his focus.
This story has stayed in my brain many years and it is what I try to visualize when I need to pause and take a deep breath. When something isn’t going as planned I pause and think, “should I loosen my grip and shift my focus?” This thought usually helps me to take a deep breath and usually make the right decision.
Today this story hit me for a different reason. As I think about how much I’ve grown professionally over the past year and how much further I have to go I’m starting to realize that this story will be in my head a lot. While I hate to think it I know I can be a micromanager and I like to see things get done the way I want them done. The past six months have been filled with one lesson after another of successes when I’ve loosened my grip and shifted my focus. This past year I’ve been focusing more and more on our vision and values. As I’ve shifted my focus slightly it means that I have to loosen my grip. My team members have proven time after time that they will not only be successful without me, they are showing me just how much I’ve been in their way! Just today there were several times I so badly wanted to jump in and do it “my way,” but held back… and then smiled as they did something better and greater than I would have. It was AWESOME!!!
I’ve wasted so much time trying to do everything, it’s amazing how I can let go and my team takes us further. I know, I know, that is pretty much Leadership 101, but I can be a slow learner. Had I only taken Jim’s advice more seriously, where would we be now?Better late than never, right???
There’s another level to it. How often in life do I try to take control in a situation? How often to I grip tightly onto what I’m used to as opposed to relaxing and shifting my vision to a different route to my goal? With the boys do I hold them back too often when I should give them more freedom? Pretty sure I need to keep this lesson top of mind, there are many times it might help.
Slow as I might be, forgetful as I am, today I’m glad that I remembered to loosen my grip and shift my focus.