Before COVID-19, I would have never been able to be with leaders from 31 states one day, then Zoom to Prague and Poland the next and wind up in London the day after. It just wouldn’t happen. Now, because we’re all at home and connected digitally, we can be anywhere at any time.
And speaking of traveling, it’s not just the joy of the journey but also the knowledge of your destination that gives direction and an endpoint to a team. Imagine, for instance, your goals are a shoreline, stretching wide and welcoming in front of you. Simply put, your team’s mission is to reach the shore. Here’s a story to explain:
In 1952, famed long-distance swimmer Florence May Chadwick, who already completed a swim across the English Channel, was set to swim the approximate 22-mile ocean stretch between Catalina Island and the California mainland. A collection of little boats followed her as she made her way across the water, and in one of the boats, her mother sat and cheered her on. A heavy fog had fallen that day and it was hard to see. Florence told her mother she wanted to stop swimming and get on the boat.
Her mother encouraged her to press on, sending inspiration into the water as only a mother could. But Florence’s mother proved no match for Mother Nature and soon, Florence decided the fog was too much; she hurtled herself onto the boat.
From this higher vantage point, Florence could see over the low-settled fog and suddenly understood she was only 800 yards from shore when she gave up. Later, Florence told reporters that if she had only seen the shore, she would have pressed on, she could have finished.
So, what’s the message? As it turns out, just two months later, Florence attempted the swim again and again a thick fog set in, but this time, she managed to reach the shore. When asked what changed from the swim she didn’t complete, Florence attributed the achievement to her newfound mental ability to perceive the shoreline when her eyes couldn’t see it. Even through the fog, this perception allowed her to realize that success was just within reach.
This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.