The View From a False Summit Can Change Your Course

I thought I was at the top.

I glanced with pride at the view of the long staircase disappearing down the mountain. It’s been a dream of mine to climb the Pikes Peak Incline, the steep, mile-long staircase at high elevation. I was glad to have scratched that off my endurance sports “bucket list.” Just as I climbed the last few steps, a voice came out of nowhere, “It’s a false summit.”

I quickly turned around and saw a fit guy sitting on a rock sipping from his water bottle. He smiled, “you’re only about two-thirds of the way up.” I climbed a few more steps, and stared over the boulders that had been blocking the view. He was right and he seemed to enjoy delivering the news, “but you have choices. You can always head back down now on the Barr Creek trail or keep going that way to the summit.”

The sun would be setting soon. I was hiking alone, and I had a 3 hour drive ahead to an important conference.

I stopped to consider the view.

We’ve all been there. We set a goal. We work hard to achieve it. And, just when we think we are done, the view changes. New circumstances, new information, and unanticipated disruptions lead us to reconsider. Is this was I wanted to accomplish? Do I still want this, or is there something bigger? Are there other paths to consider?

When life gives you false summits, stop and consider the views.

View Your Accomplishments

Don’t get discouraged. You’ve already accomplished a great deal. Just because there is more elevation to climb, don’t discount the steps you’ve already trod. Take time to breathe and celebrate what you have accomplished. Every plateau is an opportunity to rest and reflect.

View Your Options

Continuing to climb along the same path may be the perfect choice. There is also value in considering what’s available on the alternate routes. What’s for you on the switchbacks, or behind those other boulders? What and whom did you leave behind? Should you consider heading back down? What are the opportunity costs of each decision?

View Your Heart

What does your heart say? What feels right? How’s your energy? What are you climbing for? Which path will offer new experiences and growth?

View Your Resources

Who’s walking with you on this path? Who would (or could) join you on the alternative routes, who might you meet along the way? Do you have enough resources? How can you best prepare for the journey you chose?

The Journey Continues

Sometimes when we get where we think we are headed, the view changes. What we thought was the end-game offers new beginnings. Don’t just keep climbing without consideration. Each path offers different rewards.

On this particular journey, I did keep climbing and the summit was spectacular. Well worth the trip. I took the 4 miles of switchbacks down, also meaningful.

Are you standing on a false summit?
 

Who's Your Leadership Pit Crew? A Saturday Salutation

Who most serves as your leadership pit crew? How have they made a difference in your leadership? When is the last time you really thanked them?

Support Makes A Difference

Last weekend, my friend Julie and I (along with our three, 6 year olds) had an opportunity to serve as cheering squad and pit crew for our husbands competing in the Wisconsin Ironman, 140.6 mile swim, bike and run.

It’s impressive to watch the endurance and perseverance of these athletes on this important day, after so many long hours of training. I have deep respect and salute all the finishers. Equally impressive was the long line of limping athletes waiting to sign up for next year’s competition.

What was also fascinating to watch were the serious hordes of volunteers and supporters for the race. There were over 3000 volunteers for this race, nearly one for every athlete. Many competitors had large fan clubs of friends and family members with matching tee-shirts, hand-made signs, silly hats, noise makers and carefully mapped out strategies for catching their athletes at strategic points along the race.

These supporters had as much energy after 12-15 hours as they did at the beginning, and there were still plenty of cheers when the last finisher crossed the line at midnight. I also know that preparing for a race like that requires additional behind-the-scenes help not celebrated with glitter and face paint.

I must admit, I don’t have much experience on that side of the racing bib. I am grateful for all the water handed to me one the years, and for my cheering children and those who have watched with them as they have grown up in the racing scene.

All these invested supporting players got me thinking about how vital it is for the leaders to have a strong pit crew. Leadership is emotionally, physically, and logistically challenging. Two career families make choices as they carefully balance the needs of all journeys.

Kids learn the importance of making the most of time we have together. Families make sacrifices, big brothers grow strong, relatives pitch in, friends offer support. I have had tremendous help over the years for which I am truly grateful. I have been handed lots of water from my crew.

As today’s Saturday Salutation I encourage you to reflect on, and thank those who have served on your leadership pit crew.

Your Leadership Pit Crew

Who has…

  • Listened intently as you struggled with leadership decisions
  • Encouraged you after disappointments and setbacks
  • Sacrificed something in their career to support yours
  • Learned to cook while you were on the road
  • Watched and influenced your children
  • Been available in an emergency
  • Understood when you were tired
  • Supported your risk taking
  • Given you perspective
  • Made you laugh
  • Understood

To all those in my life who have, and continue to, inspire and support my leadership journey. I thank you. Namaste.

Who’s Your Leadership Pit Crew? A Saturday Salutation

Who most serves as your leadership pit crew? How have they made a difference in your leadership? When is the last time you really thanked them?

Support Makes A Difference

Last weekend, my friend Julie and I (along with our three, 6 year olds) had an opportunity to serve as cheering squad and pit crew for our husbands competing in the Wisconsin Ironman, 140.6 mile swim, bike and run.

It’s impressive to watch the endurance and perseverance of these athletes on this important day, after so many long hours of training. I have deep respect and salute all the finishers. Equally impressive was the long line of limping athletes waiting to sign up for next year’s competition.

What was also fascinating to watch were the serious hordes of volunteers and supporters for the race. There were over 3000 volunteers for this race, nearly one for every athlete. Many competitors had large fan clubs of friends and family members with matching tee-shirts, hand-made signs, silly hats, noise makers and carefully mapped out strategies for catching their athletes at strategic points along the race.

These supporters had as much energy after 12-15 hours as they did at the beginning, and there were still plenty of cheers when the last finisher crossed the line at midnight. I also know that preparing for a race like that requires additional behind-the-scenes help not celebrated with glitter and face paint.

I must admit, I don’t have much experience on that side of the racing bib. I am grateful for all the water handed to me one the years, and for my cheering children and those who have watched with them as they have grown up in the racing scene.

All these invested supporting players got me thinking about how vital it is for the leaders to have a strong pit crew. Leadership is emotionally, physically, and logistically challenging. Two career families make choices as they carefully balance the needs of all journeys.

Kids learn the importance of making the most of time we have together. Families make sacrifices, big brothers grow strong, relatives pitch in, friends offer support. I have had tremendous help over the years for which I am truly grateful. I have been handed lots of water from my crew.

As today’s Saturday Salutation I encourage you to reflect on, and thank those who have served on your leadership pit crew.

Your Leadership Pit Crew

Who has…

  • Listened intently as you struggled with leadership decisions
  • Encouraged you after disappointments and setbacks
  • Sacrificed something in their career to support yours
  • Learned to cook while you were on the road
  • Watched and influenced your children
  • Been available in an emergency
  • Understood when you were tired
  • Supported your risk taking
  • Given you perspective
  • Made you laugh
  • Understood

To all those in my life who have, and continue to, inspire and support my leadership journey. I thank you. Namaste.

Charisma Questions and Answers From Olivia Fox Cabane

If you are just tuning in to our Charisma Experiment, a group of my readers and I have been on a journey exploring the concepts and techniques discussed in Olivia Fox Cabane’s book, The Charisma Myth.

After reading the original post, Olivia graciously offered to answer questions that emerged. You can learn more about the book, the concepts, and our challenge by clicking on the above links.

This wonderful group included leaders from a variety of contexts (corporate, executive coaching, and high school). We read the book, and then each picked several techniques to use in our leadership.

Our Charisma Experiment Findings

The most frequently chosen focus areas were: strategic use of head nodding, mirroring, use of silence, and eye contact.

Some found that staying more still and nodding less made others “work a little harder” in the conversation. This resulted in deeper and more meaningful conversations. Mirroring other’s body language had a similar impact. Mirroring actions reduced inhibitions and invited others to be more open.

Use of silence and sustained eye contact were more tricky for both angles. We were tempted to fill the silence with chatter to reduce discomfort (ours or the people we are talking with). Eye contact created intimacy quickly, which can be uncomfortable, particularly in talking with people of the opposite gender. One participant tried, “counting the blinks” as Olivia suggests, and found this to help a great deal. We all recognized that there is indeed value in create more space and more connection through these techniques and will continue to leverage them.

Our Charisma Questions and Olivia’s Answers

Q: How can we be more charismatic via email?

A: By email, you’re going to be going for influence, not charisma. The best book I know on the subject is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Q; When working with your clients, what kinds of tools or techniques do you put in place to help them sustain their new behaviors over time?

A: That depends on the behavior! Many of the new behaviors are so intrinsically rewarding (you immediately see the great results they provide) that they self-reinforce. For others, each behavior has its own reinforcement.

Q: What are some ways for a leader in a position of “authority” to become more comfortable and charismatic in that “authority role” when authority charisma does not come naturally to them (they much prefer the other styles)?

A: When you’re in the situation, do the “big gorilla” exercise. You can also visualize ahead of time, pre-hearse the situation while in an assertive stance, and see it play out the way you would. You can also role-play with friends, and work on becoming comfortable with the authority stance and voice.

(a) physical: take martial arts classes. I really recommend Brazilian jiu-jitsu for this.
(b) mental: take improv classes. Learn to step into different roles.

Charisma Side Effects

A salient side effect of this work is that each of us was much more in-tune to our own actions, and were more active in seeking out feedback from others. We all agreed that staying authentic is the most vital part of any of this. Adopting techniques that do not integrate well with our true personalities will backfire and will actually diminish charisma.

One participant remarked, “I am feeling better about myself and that is making me show up stronger my team tells me they notice a difference.” Which of course is entirely the point. There is nothing more vital to charisma than coming from a confident place.

Note

I am grateful for the open spirits and warm hearts who engaged in this journey, and took some risks by trying on new behaviors and talking about them with “strangers.” I will work to provide more opportunities for such leadership experimentation. I would appreciate your joining the conversation via comments.

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Also, I would appreciate your sharing and tweeting the links to get others involved.

Saturday Salutation: Spirited Warrior

I first really met this spirited warrior, Matt on a (yoga) Mat. Our arms and spirits intertwined as we breathed through warrior poses. That was when I began to understand his powerful and joyful heart and spirit.

Oh sure, we had been working together at church on our “Quest” before that, me as advisor and he as “Quester” trying to figure as much of “it” out as we could. “It” being what we believed. about God, and values, and life. And what he would share about those beliefs with our congregations.

The real deal is, he made a permanent impression on my spiritual journey.

Matt lives with full-on joy. At every minute it oozes from his spirit. His muscles don’t always listen to his spirit, but he never says “I can’t. If he needs help, he asks for just enough, but not an ounce more than is vital.

There is much to be learned from a man like that.

If you attend any of his high-school drama productions, he is lighting up the stage with full on animation, full on spirit giving everything he has to that moment.

I asked him about that joy, “I think that because I am able to do so much more than before, I do not give up”

I think that’s what makes him so wise

‘I will tell anyone to not stop, do whatever you want no matter what/who may stand in your way.”

Amen and Namaste.