Archive for July, 2018

Don’t be the Battleship

A battleship had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. As night fell, the captain noticed the patchy fog and decided to remain on the bridge.

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, “Light bearing on the starboard bow”. “Is it steady or moving astern”, asked the captain? The lookout replied, “Steady, captain,” which meant the battleship was on a collision course with the other ship.

The captain called to the signalman, “Signal that ship: You are on a collision course. Advise you alter course 20 degrees.” Back came the answering signal, “Advisable…YOU change course 20 degrees.”

The captain said, “Send another message: “I am a senior captain. Change course 20 degrees.” “I am a seaman second class,” came the reply, “Change your course at once.”

The officer was furious. He spat out, “We are a battleship. Change YOUR course 20 degrees.” Back came the flashing response: “I am a lighthouse.”

As a boss…or a manager…a parent…or a spouse, have you ever been the battleship? The better question might be, “how many times this week have you collided with reality…when you were sure you were right and that you knew everything there was to know! You immediately jumped in and began coaching or correcting, only to find that you were woefully uninformed and on a collision course with disaster!

Habit 5 of Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. Unfortunately, this habit doesn’t come naturally – most good habits don’t! As human beings, we often don’t see the world as it is, but as we are. We act as if it’s all about us, that the world revolves around us until a startling encounter with a “lighthouse” shakes us to the realization that we’re not bigger than the realities and natural laws of life.

Some examples of the “lighthouse” include: The free-will of others, circumstances beyond our view, limited resources, others’ perceptions and attitudes, natural laws of human behavior, and universal principles…principles that can’t be broken. As Dr. Covey said, “we cannot break a principle, we cannot break a natural law; we can only break ourselves upon them.”

None of us are bigger than life, and so we cannot just will the world to bend to our whim and accommodate our “reality”.

Truly successful leaders seek first to understand, and allow that understanding to light the way to safer waters and effective relationships.

Lead on…

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July 23, 2018 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment


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