Lessons Learned While Driving This Week

It wasn’t a normal week of driving, the kind where I pull out of my garage, tune in to my favourite radio station and engage the autopilot for a trip which I won’t remember more than 30 seconds of once I park in the same spot I always do underground at the office.

dark roadDriving this week started when I got off a plane more than an hour late in Barcelona and then started our trip in a vaguely westward direction, following the instructions of our GPS as the first rains begin to spot our windshield. We soon hit the freeway and settled into a nice rhythm, one where the slow encroachment of darkness was barely noticed. Once we turned off the freeway and headed off into the hills towards our hotel, the darkness became very obvious and the glow of oncoming headlights became an input to our navigation on the winding roads.

0Our Road 2The next day, we awoke to a beautiful, sunny day and after a wonderful breakfast at Rural Hotel Cal Torner we set off on a day long exploration of the Priorat region of Spain. Knowing this is wine country, we expected hills but not steep sided mountains. During our driving time I would guess that we spent less than 5% of our time driving in a straight line and more than 60% of our time with less than 200 metres of road visible in front of us.

IMG_6699Day 3 of this driving adventure saw grey skies and a more somber feel. We had an appointment to meet a winemaker at his winery and the GPS was having nothing to do with his address. As we passed through the closest town and began to follow signs to the winery the road noticeably began to degrade to the point that we began to wish for an SUV.

All of these days in the car were really great experiences and nothing untoward happened. They also had something in common in that in each case we couldn’t really tell where we were going.

Afterward, Kendra and I compared perceptions of each of them and realized how differently they landed on us.

  • Day 1 – Darkness
    • My Perceptions
      • Why did that plane have to be late? This road seems as though it is in the mountains and I’m missing the view.
      • What if we can’t find our destination – will I be able to communicate with the hotel on the phone?
    • Kendra’s Perceptions
      • Will we be okay? I hope we’re not on the edge of a cliff.
      • What are we in for? I hope this place decent!
  • Day 2 – The Curves
    • My Perceptions
      • What a ton of fun! But remember there are two of us that have to enjoy this!
      • This is amazing scenery – I wish there were more places to pull off the road and enjoy it!
    • Kendra’s Perceptions
      • I can’t see ahead – I’m nervous about what might be coming around the corner at us.
      • What if we go over the edge?
      • It’s beautiful!
  • Day 3 – The Goat Track
    • My Perceptions
      • Where the hell are we going?
      • What if this is the wrong road? I hope we aren’t late for our appointment – that would look bad on us.
      • If the winery is really down this road, we’re in for a different experience than Napa Valley.
    • Kendra’s Perceptions
      • Where the hell are we going?
      • This road is treacherous. I hope it doesn’t collapse.
      • We’re on an adventure!

Isn’t this a lot like what we face in many facets of life? We set out on our day and we engage in activities that we haven’t ever done before – activities that have no instruction manual or any way of determining what might happen next.

Isn’t it also true that we often enter into these activities with other people and each of us will have widely differing perceptions of what happened, what is happening and what might happen?

How do we embrace this reality as a leader? How are we working with our team members to draw out their presumptions and perceptions and help them separate the fiction (the stuff we make up based on past experiences and personal wants, needs, feelings) and the basic facts (the distilled version of the situation of what we actually know) and what history shows us as most likely outcomes.

IMG_6653Knowing that there often are multiple probable outcomes, how do we work to keep our teams minds open and focused on the positive aspects of each of them as well as understanding each of the risks and help to mitigate them so that the most likely outcome is to end up on the top of the hill?

Published by

Ian Munro @ leadingessentially.com

Ian Munro is a leadership and vitality coach with a primary passion for working with senior professionals who wish to improve their connection to and vitality in their career, or who wish to make a transition to a meaningful and rewarding retirement. His methods are focused on helping clients understand why they present as they do in day-to-day life, discover their authentic self and give themselves permission to build a meaningful and rewarding future, both professional and personal. Ian’s love for this work has developed naturally as he built his career as an executive and leader in the IT services industry, serving in many roles and facets of this industry over 25 years. As he reached the pinnacle of his career he began to search more deeply for meaning and alternate rewards from his own career and to begin to plan for his own “first retirement”.

6 thoughts on “Lessons Learned While Driving This Week

  1. Those roads would terrify me Ian. Especially if I was sitting on the side of the car where the cliffs are and that would happen on the way there or back so I wouldn’t have a choice!

    This post does remind me though, how much I enjoyed trying new things at work. I got a rush/high from it. Yet there were team members who were anxious and afraid that it wouldn’t work, it kept them up at night. We need to be mindful of them, support them…

    Great post and welcome back Ian!
    Diana xo

  2. What a brilliant discourse Ian!

    When we make room for differing perceptions we build common ground on which to share our unique perceptions. From there we can create possibilities for everyone to feel part of our shared vision of creating better.

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