Have you ever flown in a 1967 Piper Comanche? Until recently, I had not. Here’s the story… We were scheduled on a flight from Atlanta to Birmingham. We boarded the plane; they shut the door and about three minutes later, the pilot said, “This plane is not flying today.” What would you do in that situation?
My traveling companion said, “Follow me.” We left the airport and drove about 20 minutes south. We pulled into a driveway and a just a minute later the plane you see in the photo was pulled out of a garage behind the house!
Moments after the plane’s appearance, we were taxiing down a grass runway in front of this guy’s house. He told me his plan was to get us air born before we hit the trees at the end of the runway (pasture). We made it. The rest of the trip was uneventful compared to the takeoff.
During this adventure, I was reminded of a trait I admire in other leaders and have always tried to cultivate myself. My friend Jay Strack is writing a book about it; its title: There’s Always a Way. Certainly, we all know there’s not always a way. But that’s one reason I love hanging around leaders, they always think there is.
I first encountered language to describe this leadership attribute many years ago when I saw the performance review for executives from one of the world’s largest companies. As you might expect, it contained many of the usual attributes: vision, team building, etc. The one that caught me off guard me was the trait I’m writing about today. They called it: Never Accepting Limits (a.k.a. There’s always a way).
How strong are you in this arena? Are you easily grounded? Do you give up and give in to circumstances? Here are a few suggestions to strengthen this part of your leadership…
Change your thinking – If you believe there’s no other way to accomplish your objective, you’ll never find one. When you are confronted with a limit or obstacle, of any kind, you must assume it can be overcome. Your thinking will determine your next step.
Consider a roadblock only a detour – When you’re driving and you see a road-closed sign, you don’t spend the night in your car, you find another way home. When you encounter an obstacle, all you do is find another way home.
Maintain an outcome focus – From time to time, we can all become too fixated on the means rather than our objective. If we can remain clear on our goal, options often become apparent.
Exercise your creativity – My working definition of creativity is the ability to generate viable options. Admittedly, this is a skill that some have not cultivated, but you can. (Check out my post: Yes... You Can Be Creative!) Obstacles, setbacks and challenges are the perfect practice field for your creative skills.
Let me warn you, if you cultivate a “There’s Always a Way” mindset, it will aggravate many. You probably know some of the people I’m talking about. That’s okay. If we accept today’s boundaries and restrictions, we will have little incentive or opportunity to create a preferred future. Remember, leaders are the architects of the future.