I recently had surgery on my left arm. The procedure was designed to fix a pinched nerve that has caused my hand to be essentially numb for the last five months. At the same time, I’m planning to climb Mount Elbrus, the highest point in Europe, with my son and son-in-law this summer. They’ve already embarked on the training plan for the hike, but I have to wait until I’ve resolved the nerve problem. It feels a bit like I’m having to take two steps backward before I can move forward again.
Perhaps you are facing a two steps backward moment. You want to keep pressing forward, but at some level, you know that you need to fix something first.
Here are two quick examples:
- Your current job isn’t panning out the way you thought it would. Career development opportunities aren’t what you hoped for and you’re not passionate about the work. You’re wondering if you should pivot and send out your resume. At the same time, you don’t want to deal with the challenges of joining a new team and a new organization. Doing so would feel like you are losing ground – at least in the short-term.
- Your team has some unresolved trust or performance issues that need to be addressed. However, you’ve been so focused on making it through 2020, that you have continued to delay some tough conversations to next week, next month, or next year. Guess what? Next year is here and, although addressing the issue might slow progress at the moment as they will cause a change in focus, it’s worth the short-term sacrifice to reap long-term gains.
I invite you to identify a two steps backward moment that you are facing right now. Own it and take steps to make it happen. It could be a relationship issue that should be addressed, a work problem that must be resolved, or a health condition that must be treated.
As you start to address the issue, you will begin to realize that what feels like two steps backward is the exact opposite. You will be gaining ground the entire time. Think of it this way:
- Pivoting away from the wrong job isn’t losing ground; it’s career progress.
- Having tough performance conversations with team members isn’t losing ground; it’s leadership progress.
- Taking care of an ailment that will require rest and recovery isn’t losing ground; it’s physical progress.
Reframe what two steps backward means and you will be more willing than ever before to make the next right move.
My colleagues and I have created a tool to help you to assess your path and determine if something needs to change or steps need to be taken. It allows you the chance to identify the two steps backward concern and to reframe it into making progress in the right direction. (Grab a PDF version of the tool here.)
Was I thrilled to have surgery on my arm?
Nope. It’s painful and I have to deal with the recovery process. But, fixing anything that’s broken or not serving you well will likely require some pain and time. In the end, you will be in a much better spot.
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.