Responding to The Speed of Change - Part 1

Nov 29, 2023


Responding to the Speed of Change - Part 1

As the speed of change accelerates, we always face a decision: 

                                                 We can’t do it all, so what do we stop doing?

That’s not where the conversation starts, but it always ends there. Initially leaders respond with confidence, “Of course we can do it all!” The solution? Pedal faster. It’s a logical response. It created success in the past, we just need to do it faster. And for a while you keep up. Then the speed accelerates again, and you face a second decision.

                                                           Can we really keep up?

No one likes a quitter, so the answer is again yes. This time, though, your response is different. Your vision narrows. You let go of a few non-essential things you can do next week. You keep looking straight ahead, pedaling even faster. You begin to feel it in your legs and your back, but you are strong. You keep pedaling. You truly believe you can get there.   

                                                               The Third Decision

Then speed accelerates even more, and the 3rd decision comes. This is the decision that matters the most. First, you speed up – pure instinct. That Tony Robbins motivational video flashes through your head and you smile. It doesn’t take long, though, before you realize you’re hitting the wall. Try as you might, you can’t pedal faster. Your vision narrows even more, and you face the big decision. Not a conscious decision for most of us – instinctive – but a decision nonetheless. “What do I let go of?” It’s no longer possible to do it all. At the core, this decision is about one choice, “Do I stay focused on the process” or say, “Forget about the process, just get there!” Faced with this decision, most leaders become hyper results focused. Only one thing matters - hitting the target. The “what” becomes more important than the “how.” Survival takes over and we start shedding stuff – often important stuff – the whole time pedaling faster. You meet the deadline, but the process is exhausting. You’re worn out, and your team is stressed out. Plus, another goal, just like the last one, is just around the corner. You’re left with this lingering question.

                                              Are we making this harder than it needs to be?

We want our team to function like an elite military unit – drop in, complete the task, and get out, all with precision, accuracy, and speed. The reality looks more like an episode of Survivor. Why?

Over the last 10 years we’ve been privileged to lead over 150 family resiliency retreats and events for many active-duty military service members and families. Along the way we’ve learned a lot about what goes into creating these elite units. To even get into these units you must pass a grueling selection process. If you’re disciplined enough to endure the selection process and be accepted, that’s just the beginning. The next step is months of preparation before you ever participate in a mission. Millions of dollars are spent every year to ensure that these service members have what they need, develop their skills, and stay mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy.

Here’s another fascinating fact. Even after they are equipped and ready to go, these units only spend a fraction of their time doing the things we typically think of them doing. Know what they do with the rest of their time? Develop their craft (training, rehearsing, learning, adding new skills and abilities) so that when their services are needed, they are ready.   

How does that compare to the time, money, and effort you spend developing your team? Sure, you’re not an elite military unit, but the concept applies to everyone. In a rapidly changing world, development is key to building a thriving organization. There is always some assembly required. People can’t see what you see, know what you know, believe what you believe, and want what you want without development.

                      Without development you are hoping for success rather than building for success.

If you hire people expecting them to figure things out on their own, that’s Leadership Negligence. You may not like the sound of that phrase, but it is true. That’s what we will talk about in the next post. 

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