I tried walking a tight rope in my gym, but I made the rookie error of looking down at my feet and ended up on the floor. Fortunately, it was only a metre or so from the ground so it was only my pride that was hurt. In the book, “Off Balance on Purpose”, Dan Thurmon explains that an experienced tight rope walker keeps their head up, looking forward to the ultimate goal which is the platform in front of them.
And while it may look like they are perfectly balanced, they are always making adjustments. There is never a moment when they are at rest; lifting their free leg, shifting their head and shoulders, adjusting the balance pole, adjusting to the movement of the wire, moving their body. And most importantly, not looking down!
Game-changing leaders have a similar challenge. They deliberately throw themselves off balance by taking on a stretch objective; a result that will change the game in their sphere of influence. Like the tight rope walker, they need to make adjustments as they move towards their goal. In the process, they are often surprised by the confidence they tap into as they shift and transform their leadership capability to achieve their objective. Equilibrium is not an option for them.*
Dianne made some adjustments as she moved from a senior technology executive position to her first sales role. She took on a stretch sales target rather than play it safe. That meant she had to transform her leadership to stay focused on her goal. She changed her inner conversation that she did not have what it takes. She altered how she spent her time and energy to forward her objective. She shifted her focus from the sale to the value she offered to her clients. She rose above the internal politics and rivalries.
Dianne was constantly off balance, but her adjustments contributed to her achieving the stretch objective. She is now the number one sales person in the firm and is still taking on game-changing challenges. The point here is that her growth and success came from first taking on a stretch objective. She then made the necessary adjustments to her leadership capability to achieve it.
Do you have a stretch objective that will throw you off balance? Equilibrium is not an option.
Best regards, Brian
*Paraphrasing my colleague Noel Turnbull
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