Your BREAK THROUGH, Vol. 1, Post 46

Driving surface streets in Denver after a big snow is a notoriously frustrating and dangerous endeavor. While many people think we have ‘harsh’ winters here, what’s really tough is that we have multiple winters and multiple springs.  People coming from the Great Lakes area often comment that once it snows ‘back home,’ the snow stays until the Spring melt.  That’s just not the case here.

In the middle of December it can dump eight inches of that beautiful champagne powder, and then begin to melt the very next day.  And since side roads throughout the city are often only plowed after 10-12 inches of accumulation, that melting eight inches of snow causes quite the mess.  Being the first person to drive on fresh snow is quite fun and quite manageable: go slower than usual, don’t slam on the breaks, and enjoy looking at the winter wonderland (and watch for those crazed Colorado runners, we get out in any weather). But being the 10th or 50th person to drive on that same accumulation, that’s a different story …

Roads get rutted out quickly, and intersections become pile ups of snowy muck and piste rutted every which way.  Even solid snow tires on an AWD vehicle can get caught and tossed around regardless of your speed.  And then there’s always the driver going faster than the fair weather speed limit, which makes you tighten your grip in fear that he might be involuntary redirected right into you because of the muck.

Now, why am I going on about this for 250 words in a blog that’s about leadership development and innovation? Simple: that melting, snowy, messy muck in the road after a big storm is a perfect analogy for what happens in our personal and professional lives when we get into focused, stressful, busy living and work mode. Rushed by a project deadline, overwhelmed with tasks like responding to email, and just the general demands of life, too often keep us from slowing down to think through challenges, looking ahead to what might be down a block or two, and brainstorming multiple ideas to discover the one break through solution.

Both coaching and strategic planning, along with most any reflective process integrated into professional development, provides time and energy to plow the muck out of our way, increasing our productivity and planning for potential pitfalls.  This is not simply a call to consider working with us next year, it is a reminder that we must all take time to clean up our roads. And if we haven’t had time to do that yet, please proceed with caution.