• Pam Prior

Lessons from the Gap 10

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

“You need to do the things that only you are uniquely qualified to do. If you are doing things that other members of your team can do then you’re robbing them of their development opportunity.”

Leadership – if other people wouldn’t have delegated to me, I never would have gotten my opportunities.

“Guiding is about being one step ahead of someone else and then reaching back to help them” John Akoff (You don’t need to know everything in order to teach)

Set up list of all tools, websites and costs used during search.

“Failures are priming the pump for future successes” Erik Fisher (Note the jobs you didn’t get)

Lessons from the Gap: 19 – Living in the Stretch

As leaders continuing to grow through our careers, we often navigate in spaces we’ve never been before. I’ve always called this “Living in the Stretch”. It’s that part of our life, or job, or opportunity that is new to us; where we are uncomfortable and unsure of the outcome – yet still called to lead ourselves (and others) through.

Sometimes we are operating around 20% “in the stretch” – that’s probably normal for effective leadership growth. But every now and then, circumstances land us where we are living 70-80% in the stretch, and it’s stressful! These are the moments that get our adrenaline pumping, our minds focused, and our jaws set. But my experience has been that these ultimately become those amazing, defining moments that mark our path with incredibly bright light when we look back on our lives.

There’s no denying it’s a little bit scary: In these moments, we often can’t see the next stone in the path where our foot is about to fall. It feels like you’re going to find nothing there when your foot finally does land. And sure, that’s a possibility, but guess what – you’ll get back up and take the next step! Outstanding leaders separate themselves, in part, by driving through that fear and stepping anyway. And outstanding leaders use every resource they have within their reach to start laying those stones further and further out ahead and lighting the path for those who are following.

Sometimes your step falls on a stone that got put there at just the right time by circumstances (or God, or the universe – you choose); you never could have predicted its form. And every now and then your flashlight will pierce enough darkness that you can actually see two or three steps ahead. And more often than not, there are multiple paths to choose from.

This is what makes leadership so incredibly exciting. Sure, other people may have tread this path before, but for you this is new, and fascinating, and yes, even a little scary when there are things that go “bump” in the night. But what an incredible high it is to look back every now and then and say – “Wow, I just cleared that much of the forest!”

This moment could have arrived through a job challenge, a career transition, a geographical relocation, or any new adventure.   So, how do we survive and lead during these moments; how do we keep it from becoming paralyzing? I’ve had the opportunity to watch some outstanding leaders in these situations. I’ve had the opportunity to live occasionally at the 80% “in the stretch” zone myself.

So here’s what I’ve picked up so far about how to thrive in this particular state:

  1. Rely on your history. Tell yourself your own stories over and over again. If you look back, probably not very far, you’ll find a recent experience of when you tread into the unknown and came through remarkably better off.

  2. Leverage your network! This is when all of those Conversations and Relationships (see former blog posts!) become so vital to you. If you’ve given generously into your network, and built genuine friendships, these friends will help you. (Just as you’ll help them when the tables are turned).

  3. Trust yourself and your instincts! You are a leader. Those leadership skills are how you got here in the first place.

  4. Set your vision, and spend time really imagining its achievement. Here someone recently said to me “Write that acceptance speech you’re going to give x-number of years from now. And picture yourself giving that speech. Who is in the audience? What you’re feeling?”

  5. Hold on tightly to the till!

  6. Have faith, and let go of what you can’t control. No matter what your spirituality, at some point, you just have to have faith. As you focus on the actions you CAN control, relax and breathe into your faith.

There – that’s it. My list for how to navigate “Living in the Stretch”! I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, so please comment on this post wherever you come across it (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, or on my website. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Author, Virtual CFO, and Finance Coach

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