Pave the Way
Do you get a thrill out of doing something which has never been done before? If I were given the choice to either a) do something routine and ordinary, or b) do something that has never been done before, I would have to go with the latter. While the routine and ordinary is necessary, that is for another blog. I was given the opportunity to take my kids out into the winter wonderland that is Northeast Ohio today to go sledding. There is an incredible hill near our house that begs for you to get a sled and just have a blast, so that is exactly what we did.
When we arrived there were numerous families out sledding on the hill. We went to the side of the hill that was not nearly as steep to begin the adventure. After we felt we had mastered the bunny hill I looked over to the boys and asked them a simple question, “Do you want to head over to the really steep part?” My oldest son said yes although you could sense a nervous gulp gathering in his throat. The next comment he said was priceless, “but dad, nobody else is sledding up there.” We went and conquered the hill and we were unsatisfied with any other hill after we had been exposed to the new one.
The connections to leadership and sledding are plentiful. One of the correlations I noticed immediately was the simple recognition that there are some hills that need to be conquered that nobody else is willing to conquer. The main difference between a leader and follower is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to conquer the fear and do it anyways. Another lesson you learn is that the first time down the hill is always the most difficult and it will always be the slowest. The reason for this is that you have to pack the snow in and pave the way the first time. There are lessons that must be learned. The goal in your initial run is that you just make it to the bottom. Every subsequent trip down the hill is much more efficient because you stay in the path that has already been packed down for you. The leader must view their role as having the courage to step out and pave the way, not because it is easy, but because it is difficult. If it were easy to pave the way, everyone would do it. Just as it was while sledding today, once the new hill is conquered and the way has been paved, you just can’t find satisfaction going back to the bunny hill ever again.
Is there a hill in your life, career, organization, or your market that you have been too afraid to step out and conquer? Is the difficult nature of paving the way what is keeping you back? I encourage you to step out and pave the way. Be the leader that paves the way and prepares a trail that can be traveled more efficiently by those behind you. I believe you will discover that when you conquer your hill and have a new “normal” you will never be satisfied with the bunny hill again.