I recently took a vacation to Key West and tried to cram a lot into a few days. It was one of those, visit eight European countries in four-day types of trips. One day I rode my bicycle all over the Conch Republic, paddle boarded for two hours, and visited museums. I pushed myself and was tired but wanted to do it all. In front of a crowd, I fell off my bicycle and sprawled on the ground, my bike sat on top of me, and my bag and all the contents were scattered across the sidewalk. I felt like I was 10 years old as I used to do the same thing every other week and would walk around with Band-Aids covering bruises that were testaments to my adventures.
Folks came over to help. A young woman asked if I was ok and needed assistance? “No, I am OK. Everything is fine”. People across the street asked if I needed help? “No, I am fine”. The manager of the museum came out to observe the commotion wondering if I had invented a “tour de Key West”. I got up and was dusty, bruised, and embarrassed.
What next? In that moment, riding was not an option. Plan B? I walked my bicycle the next few blocks and concluded it might be a long afternoon. Eventually I calmed down, got back on the bicycle, and rode to my hotel.
You may be thinking, “what does this have to do with my business, leadership, and my people”?
Situations occur, things go wrong, change happens, and nature takes its course. Sometimes we ride through these situations with the wind at our back, and other times we fall off the bicycle. Eventually, we find a way to get back on and move forward.
When someone is in this situation we ask the question, do you need help? People are typically embarrassed when they fall or fail, and in the moment they may not know if and what type of assistance they need.
Everyone does not react to these situations similarly, or like you! Some may blame the fall on the bike, the sidewalk, other people, or nature. We have all learned a “signal of success” is our ability to be self-sufficient, not needy. These types of situation are challenging as a person may need assistance, but may not know how to ask without appearing weak. This is a dilemma and often results in the employee “toughing it out” and getting back on the bicycle when they are bruised and not clear-headed. An alternate question is, What can I do to support you? This is more compassionate, gracious, and less embarrassing.
When you are cruising, it is easy to switch gears and take in the sites. The moment you hit a speed bump, you get rattled or fall, and this causes you to stop or slow down and shift direction. Employees leave, clients change their business model, the economy shifts…you get the picture. Are you prepared? Do you have a Plan B, Plan C, or Plan Z? Have you proactively planned for situations that might occur, in the hopes that they do not?
When you try to do too much, you hit a speed bump and slow down.
When you are at a fork in the road, you assess the alternate plans.
Pedaling forward is ideal.
Falling off the bicycle is natural.
Are you ready to get up, shake off the dust and continue the journey?
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