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You Choose (#18)

The Confident Leader

Growing up I used to read a book series called Choose Your Own Adventure. The end of each chapter was a cliff hanger and the reader got to choose the direction of the story by picking one of two options that continued the story line. It was thrilling. I got to control the narrative. What will you choose for your next chapter?  

When in doubt, paddle out.
— Nat Young, legendary shortboard surfer

This Week’s Edition

CONTROL THE NARRATIVE: As we near the end of 2020, choose your leadership story line going forward.

Clarify Your Thinking

This past week leaders shared their perspective of their pandemic leadership experience:

·      It’s a never-ending battle.

·      I’m in the fight of my life.

·      I’m just running in mud.

·      I can’t continue climbing the mountain.

These are strong metaphors: battle, fighting, stuck and uphill climbing. How you think about your pandemic leadership thus far can influence your future leadership story line. Think “fight.” Actions that follow: fight. Think “stuck.” Actions that follow: stuck. Simply put: thoughts lead to actions… actions lead to results.  

Controlling your thoughts is the key to writing your own script as a leader.    Your mind is powerful. And, you have a choice in every situation. Choose how you think about your leadership future.

But how do leaders control their thoughts in uncertain times? One leader said to me, “the waves are continually crashing over me. One after the other.” This reminded me of a family beach vacation and a surfing lesson we took.

Our surf instructor, Marco, said, “The foundation of surfing is… staying in the moment.” In other words, your brain and your body must be in the same place at the same time. To think about the last wave or where you will go to lunch is certain doom for successfully riding the wave of right now.  

Despite the chaos and disruption, keep your thinking focused on the present. It clears up cluttered thinking and prepares you to write your own storyline. 

post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Training your thinking to stay in the moment is just the first step in surfing (and leadership). From there, the novice surfer has four lessons to master.

JUST START. “Paddle. Paddle. Paddle,” Marco yelled. I had to get going regardless if I was a little off balance, not 100% prepared or even a bit hesitant. “Now or never,” he offered.

Lesson: Just go. Forward progress creates positive momentum.

LOOK UP. “Always look forward.” Marco yelled. My balance instinct was to do the opposite, look down. Every time I looked down, I went down.

Lesson: Where you look you will go.

COMMIT. “Get up,” Marco yelled. At some point, I have to commit. Hop up or the wave will pass you by.

Lesson: You’ve got to commit or miss the opportunity.

STAY NIMBLE. “Stay low,” Marco yelled. The lower my stance the more agile I became. The more I stood upright, the more I lost my balance.

Lesson: Be nimble. React quickly. 

The surfing lesson was a blast. Not only did each of us get up, we began to practice the key lessons Marco shared. As you contemplate the prospect of leading through another six months of the crisis, my encouragement is to stop thinking about fighting and battling.  Grab your board and let’s go surfing.  Hang ten!

Boost Your Performance

“When in doubt… paddle out.” This little surfing phrase came to me in the most unique way.  It has stuck with me.  It’s slightly hidden meaning holds a nugget for leaders on what to do in uncertain times. What will your next adventure be? You choose. And then enjoy the ride!

What’s Your Opinion?

Share with me your best adventure story and what you learned as a result.

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

robin pou, chief advisor and strategist

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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