Today I am pedal-to-the-metal word-sprinting. Going the distance between the flag drop and the finish line. Instead of spending fuel, I’m filling the tank with text of my second book:
#47LearningsForLeaders – A Quick-Start Guide for Greatness Thrust Upon Us
Feel like revving your engine a bit? Read the first-draft foreword:
I grew up in the 70s, a time we think of as progressive, poignant, and perched on the edge of idyllic freedom. Flowers in the hair, cross-country road trips, and Neil Diamond on the 8-track. I was princess of the back seat, sprawled out and surrounded with Little Golden Books, homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, and a handmade doll my mom fashioned for me out of a pink fabric Handi Wipe. My dad drove and my mom held the map. Her job was to navigate, but he didn’t always listen. He was the boss. Sometimes we got lost, bobbing along pothole-riddled back roads, not entirely certain that the shortcut our leader had chosen was a sure thing.
Leadership is like that. We wake up one day and find ourselves in the driver’s seat, the road unfurled before us and the car already rocketing a little dangerously above the posted speed limit. We hesitate to pause or take our eyes away from the road long enough to peek at the map. We neglect to ask for help or directions. We get frustrated, clench our teeth, sink in our heels. We guess and end up rattling down the wrong track.
The further we went down that dead-end road, the more my dad fumed. Even at five, I could see how scary it must be to be the boss. No wonder he was grumpy. No wonder my mom was silent and still. I wondered over it for a while, chewing on a cookie, looking for a solution.
Then I looked at the pink blankie on my lap; my symbol of comfort and safety. I thought about how reassuring it is to hide underneath the pink blankie, how nothing scary can penetrate the safety of the pink blankie, how everyone could feel better cozied up to the pink blankie.
I put down my cookie, picked up the pink blankie, scooted forward on my perch in the back seat, and popped the pink blankie over my dad’s head.
We consulted our compass and set out fresh.
Sometimes we need a break from the breakneck speed of leadership to reconsider our trajectory. A leadership role is often popped upon us unexpectedly, providing little time to prepare or plot a course. Of course, others have blazed the trail of leadership before us. I’ve set my compass by the examples of some of the best, and mapped my 47 favorites.