In an era of major league and collegiate sports where sustained failure of wins and losses are not accepted and tolerated for very long by owners or athletic directors, there is one thing that is constant and rings true…change!
How can a team have great success one year, and failure the next. Same players, same coaches, same leadership, different results? There will always be debates and opinions as to why this happens, however this is what I do know, vision begins to change and leak. The mission becomes faint. The strategy is not clear any longer. Focus becomes blurred. Failure is lying in wait, crouching at the door.
Not long ago I read an article about the mega ocean liner Titanic. The Titanic was built in an era of big ships but with no technology available for the captain to see his way ahead. Radar was decades away from development. So as the Titanic was built and launched, its claim to being unsinkable was predicated on the toughness of the hull of the ship.
It is not surprising that the crew could not see an iceberg that was large above the water line…but much larger below the water line. Back then they could only see what their eyes could see.
There is so much to learn here about leadership and life. Let me suggest four:
1) When we cannot see clearly, we should exercise caution: The Titanic’s crew could not see that far ahead, but they proceeded without caution. We may feel tough. We may feel unsinkable because of success. But if we don’t have clear vision, or if we cannot enunciate a clear vision, we are in danger if we rush ahead blindly. Vision leaks. Guard against it at all cost.
2) When we don’t pay attention to feedback, we can run aground: The danger here is due to not recognizing the danger. Failure to seek feedback is folly. Failure to listen to it is foolishness. Regardless of how much success you have attained, you had better pay attention to feedback from those around you. Not doing so will cause you to run aground.
3) When we have vision, we need to clarify it regularly: Instruments on the Titanic needed to be calibrated to verify accuracy. In life, we need to clarify our vision repeatedly in order to insure that we are on track with where we want to go. If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. Vision leaks. You can count on it! You cannot communicate it enough to those you are leading. Failure to constantly and consistently communicate the vision will only lead to failure. It will be just a matter of time.
4) When we have clarity, we need to practice humility: Every person who is more confident in themselves than in the vision they espouse is vulnerable to prideful downfalls. Pay attention to whats happening in your life below the water line. Great leaders can crash in the blink of an eye. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Be humble and serve those you are leading. It will take you a long way in life. Like the Proverb say’s so clearly – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty attitude before a fall.”
We all make choices as we navigate life. We all have an impact on others, whether it’s our family, friends or colleagues. It is vitally important for us to have a clear sense of ourselves, and a clear sense of our relationships with those we influence. If we have that clarity we will see success, but if we don’t, we may well crash into the iceberg of life.
What about you? Do you have a personal vision statement? Are you seeking feedback about your life’s direction?