This time of year the sky is gray a lot where I live, the grayness is sometimes buffered or amplified depending on the weather and temperature. Some days you can hear things from above before you can see them. In the last few weeks there have been large numbers of geese flying overhead. Their honk, cackle, bark, “cheering” or whatever you choose to call it can often be heard from a distance before they can be seen overhead. Their seemingly graceful formation and synchronized honking has reminded me of an old leadership thought; especially this week.
The parable of geese in formation has been used a lot in leadership, management and organizations. When I taught an introductory college level leadership class, we would often end our semester with sharing of the poem and a version of it framed for all the students to take with them as a symbol of the leadership lessons they hopefully learned.
As we embark on a new year with likely unexpected outcomes, and unfortunately, more tumultuous occurrences that rock our foundations, take a moment and turn your head slightly. Twist your perspective for a moment, you never know what you may see and how it may impact your mindset, inspiration or mood. While we may not be able to be together to truly benefit from each others lift or shift from our position when we get tired, lessons we can learn from geese may be able to help us take a beat and consider how we may be able to support each other, our teams and their leaders as we manage our own and the fatigue of others. The uncertainty of what’s next in our path and needing support is greater now more than ever and we must remember to rely on each other if we are to get through this challenging time. #twistyourparadigm
Twisting the paradigm
It’s that time of year again, the air is cooler in the morning and in the evening and the days are getting shorter; school supply commercials are reigning inboxes and TVs; apple and pumpkin spice flavors, decorations and scents clog the store aisles and drive through coffee dealers. But wait… this year is different for sure. While all of this seems to be happening earlier, it all has a very different angst about it. Instead of the excitement and emotion that going back to school brings, this year is filled with all that and then some. The world is twisted and the unknown prevails. Leaders are attempting to be agile while remaining optimistic. College students are being asked to live by more rules and sign agreements they know they can’t keep; parents are still shopping and loading up on supplies which now include masks, anti bacterial wipes, gel, spray and thermometers; while coordinated bedding, ramen and mini fridges still prevail, because being prepared with all the things one needs is half the battle. K – 12 will look, feel and be different and diverse as some return to school physically, others virtually and still others attempt a hybrid model. WFH is a new acronym added to our vocabulary and will likely remain there for the foreseeable future.
While all this is going on, our nation is a mess, riddled with issues at our borders, in our communities and between us. Fear and anxiety are the top scents as we engage in this change of season. We are looking for answers and those are changing as fast as the days are getting shorter; we are looking for leadership where it would seem like it is obvious to exist, but doesn’t. We are searching for direction to and from whatever the next few weeks and months will bring and that keeps changing too. In this time of constant change I think it’s important to take some time to keep it simple. I know, easy to say… hard to do. Here are few examples of where a twist in a paradigm is a little more achievable than a shift or a pivot. A twist is more slight, and can be incredibly effective. Think about some of the joys of summer: a twist ice cream cone which blends the flavors perfectly; twisting corn on the cob to get to the next row; twisting your view to see the rainbow after the storm; twisting your hand or foot to change the trajectory of a golf ball. Why pivot or shift abruptly and sharply when a little twist will do? Who needs a quick thank you or a virtual pat on the back? Who are the unsung heroes in your organization behind the scenes that could use a little love? A small twist in perspective, in thinking and in action can make a huge difference. Take a small twist instead of a big leap, shift or pivot and see what happens. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how a little twist in perspective, in tone and in action can create a larger shift in your current paradigm.