Recently, my son, son-in-law, and I went for a long hike. We covered about 11 miles of fairly hilly terrain, but the real challenge came at the end. The last mile required us to ascend a steep and fairly long stone stairway. Once we reached the top, I asked about their approach to tackling the challenge.
My son-in-law shared that when he finds himself in a challenging situation, he tells himself, ‘Just take one more step.” When he takes that step, he again says, “Just take one more step.” He repeats the process over and over. He reasons that if you think about one step at a time and challenge yourself to take just one more, you’ll keep moving forward. That’s exactly what he did, and he successfully made it to the top of the stairwell.
My son answered by explaining that he likes to pick something in the distance and hike toward it. It’s as if he casts a vision for himself, reaches it, and then casts again. That’s exactly what he did, and he successfully made it to the top of the stairwell.
I then shared my approach, which was to set a number in my mind of steps I thought I could take, and then count my steps until I reached that number. Then I would pause, catch my breath, and pick another number. After a few times of setting smaller goals, I eventually make it. That’s exactly what I did, and I successfully made it to the top of the stairwell.
My takeaway from all of this is that we have different approaches to how we tackle challenges. One approach might be right for one person but not for another. I think we get that intellectually but sometimes as leaders we don’t put the idea into practice. Instead, we believe that what motivates us will motivate everyone else. Or, that an approach that works for us will work for the entire team.
I encourage you to rethink that thinking.
To help you do that, I have two things to share with you.
- Recent Leadership Lab podcast episode in which I interview Monique Nelson. Monique is the CEO of UniWorld Global, which is the United States’ oldest multi-cultural marketing and advertising firm. In my conversation with Monique, she talks about her career, some of the challenges she’s faced, and how she’s worked to overcome them. I titled the episode Be Fearless and Trust Your Gut because that’s exactly what Monique and I talk about.
- A video and tool combo for you to put to use as you think about the challenges you and your teammates face. The tool provides a quick snapshot of the three approaches that my son, son-in-law, and I used as we tackled our hiking challenge. The video shows how you can use that tool on your own or with your team to examine how you tackle challenges.
Make it a great day!
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.