“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” Seth Godin
Reverend Joan Gray wrote a wonderful book entitled Sailboat Church, which speaks to helping your Church rethink its mission and practice. There are abundant applications we can use in managing our businesses.
After years of experience, I can say with the wisdom of 20/20 hindsight that, I made many mistakes. I learned from them and did not commit the same ones more than once. It is that distance of time that provides the perspective and capacity to reflect and grow.
As a CEO, you may (or you will) experience what we know as “burn-out”. You are tired of doing, doing and doing but nothing is getting accomplished. You are frustrated. It is that nothing happening which bothers us the most. But what if we are actually spending too much time doing things that we do not need to be doing?
Let us face it…a few people above us decide what we are going to do and then everybody else has to suck it up and do it. No way do they want us taking some risks, even if they are well-calculated and planned for risks. No way will they allow us, as semi-autonomous leaders of the organization; the freedom to do what we have determined is the best course of action.
They do not like the idea that yes, sometimes, we will fail. They forget, however, that sometimes, it is the things that do not work that show us the way forward. The primary reason that you are frustrated and tired is that you may be rowing the boat alone.
It is time you ask different questions. What is it that YOU want to do? We are too invested in the status quo, meaning in what others think we should do. All the solutions to the challenges within your organization reside with your organization, its employees and board. For example:
Challenge: We need to grow customers. Question we would Normally Ask: “How do we fix that?”
Let us ask a Different Question: “What do we need to be doing differently that will enable us to achieve a new outcome? For example…here’s a novel idea…let’s ask our customers what their needs are!”
In other words, be careful to consider whose agenda you are working on. If your customer growth is the agenda, then they must be involved in your solution. You will not know how to help them grow unless you ask them.
No organization can be transformed unless its leaders are transformed. So, stop rowing and put up the sails. If the winds of opportunity are blowing, nothing can happen if you are not ready.
Tired of rowing…of being a minority of doers?
Then become a leader. Raise your ship's mast and allow the winds of opportunity to provide the momentum.
Parker J. Palmer is an author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. He is the founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal goes even further:
“A third shadow common among leaders is “functional atheism,” the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us. This is the unconscious, unexamined conviction that if anything decent is going to happen here, we are the ones who must make it happen – a conviction held even by people who talk a good game about God.
The ego-based outlook that you are the only one capable of rowing the boat is exhausting and cannot be sustained. I talk with too many CEO’s whose executive leadership teams aren’t allowed to make simple decisions without prior approval. If that were I, or you, we would be tired, too!
So, hoist the sails and stop rowing. Once you start to sail, you’ll never go back. Put up the sails to the best our faulty, human brains can handle have faith in yourself and in those sailing with you.