Sometimes leadership is as simple as picking a direction and moving!
The other morning I was on my way to work and I came to an intersection where one lane goes straight with the option to turn right and the other lane forces you to turn right. As I approached I notice the right turn lane was backed up a hundred yards or more. The other lane only had one car in it.
I chose the empty lane. Then I began to wonder. As I was thinking cars behind me began to peel out of the right lane and follow me, realizing that lane gave them a choice.
One could extract several different leadership lessons from this story. For me, it’s a simple reminder of the blind leading the blind. How a simple choice makes all the difference in the world. So, what decisions are you making as a leader? Do you know where they are leading those that follow?
A friend recently shared this poem with me. It illustrates this idea beautifully.
One day thru the primeval wood
A calf walked home, as good calves should,
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer, the calf is dead;
But still behind he left his trail,
And thereon hangs my mortal tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way,
And then a wise bell-weather sheep
Sliding into a rut now deep,
Pursued that trail over hill and glade
Thru those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
and uttered words of righteous wrath
Because “twas such a crooked path”
But still they follow-do not laugh- The first migrations of that calf.
The forest became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road
where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The village road became a street,
And this, before the men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare.
And soon a central street was this
In a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Followed the wanderings of this calf.
Each day a hundred thousand strong
Followed this zigzag calf along;
And over his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one poor calf, three centuries dead.
For just such reverence is lent
To well established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach.
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf paths of the mind;
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
**Poem by Samuel Walter Foss (1895)