My life teaches me about leadership when I am paying attention. I was on a team this past weekend competing in a local version of the television show The Amazing Race – The Amazing Hunt, Surrey style.
I was reminded of a sound leadership insight; the goal makes all the difference. Our team finished 11 out of 12 groups. Our big failing, we got stuck in one phase of the race by choosing the wrong goal.
Here is how we got into this mess. Keen and eager we ran for the first check point after our very bright Captain figured out the first clue. Being one of the first teams to figure out the clue we did not have a lasting impact on where we placed in the end. Slow and steady, with a clear sense of direction was going to win this race.
Instead we were quick, off and running down the street rushing to finish the race. A phone number of a store was the next clue. We did not hear the message on the stores voice mail correctly and we thought it was a metaphor, “Praying for a game.” Turns out, the name was “Craving for a game”. This was a store in the local mall. Eventually, we caught on by following other teams. Not much for leadership yet. We were following and that even took awhile. We were too smart by half and that continued.
The next mistake was the big one that ensured we would finish in the back of the pack. Our Captain was kicking-butt and did the clue puzzle in record time. Our next clue was a logo and it stated “Where can you find this logo in Surrey Central….” We thought we were in Surrey Central Mall. We looked in every sports store, restaurant and toy outlet we could find. No logo.
Where was this logo in the mall? Finally, we stopped running into other teams. At our wits end, but determined we went to customer service to see if they could help. They said “I don’t think you will find that in the mall, but the mall is called Central City and the area around the mall is called Surrey Central.” Woops! One hour after the rest of the teams left the mall we ran to a place that we all knew and eliminated in seconds after receiving our clue, the training facility for a professional football team that was next door.
We eliminated options too early and needed to understand our situation better before acting. How often are we working hard when we have created artificial barriers to our success? This sure made me nervous, where at work or in life am I doing this? Am I not getting closer to a goal because of my own perceptions or presumptions? I have to figure out if I have a ‘customer service’ that can state the obvious and get me back on course. How about you?