Leadership Lessons on the Fly
The problem was me. The first three attempts at catching the elusive fish ended in failure. It didn't seem to matter that I read The Guide To The Fundamentals of Fly fishing. Even the fly fishing seminar at the University of Nebraska didn't help.
When it came to trout and fly fishing - I had a losing record.
I remember the almost transcendental-like setting of the Arkansas River in Colorado. A grand adventure in a spiritual setting - but no fish. The second attempt was also splendid. I stood on the banks of a narrow river in West Yellowstone. The Madison River was breathtaking but troutless. The third attempt occurred out of desperation. I fished a stocked trout lake in Nebraska. It was supposed to be like turning over a rubber ducky at a carnival game.(You know, everyone wins.) Not a single bite - I started to realize the problem is me.
Many years later about the time I had given up on fly fishing I was offered yet another chance to fail. A few short weeks ago I journeyed with a group of Signature Performance co-workers to the Snake River in Valentine, Nebraska. To be transparent, I had little hope.
The group of novice fly fisherman made the walk descending about 425 feet to the river's edge. It was as breathtaking as any mountain river. While some of our crew was anxious to begin, I stuck right next to our guide for the evening. I learned long ago everyone needs a coach. I listened well and took my time. I tried to glean important fly fishing tips that could change my stars. This time - Success!
Something as simple as learning to fly fish takes great perseverance. It only makes sense that becoming a leader would take a lifetime's worth of experience. As I stood knee-deep in the Snake River, I started thinking about why coaching is so powerful. I thought about what I've learned and how I can help others.
Perhaps you have tried leading and failed a few times as an entrepenuer...me too. Maybe leading others is more difficult than you expected...I get it. The thing is you will always have setbacks and failures...but, there is always hope.
It's why I'm passionate about the coaching process.
As a matter of fact, if I were fishing guide on the Snake River of Leadership here's what I'd offer. I'd give you five foundational practices that guarantee success.
Five Foundational Practices
Foundational Practice #1: You must get to know your strengths. Each of us is born with certain talents waiting to become strengths. I recommend taking Clifton's Strengths Finders Assessment. It's important to identify your core strengths. This helps you to focus on the areas of your life that have the most potential.
Foundational Practice #2: Understand what you value in life and why. Most of us never become self-actualized enough to understand our values. By knowing what you value most, you can target your strengths on the things that matter most.
Foundational Practice #3: Figure out a way to determine what life is like on the other side of you. Get a 360-degree assessment or ask someone who knows you and is trusted. Few ever bother gathering this type of data. However, knowing it leads to all sorts of breakthroughs.
Foundational Practice #4: Be intentional about putting your unique strengths to work every day. Make a daily habit of reviewing and renewing your commitment to strengths each day. A great hack is to download and use Clifton's Free Strengths Finders App.
Foundational Practice #5: Develope a working relationship with a coach. Do you have a person in your life willing to keep you accountable and encourage you? Having someone completely focused on your success pays big dividends. Like I said, everyone needs a coach.
Perfecting anything will take time. But like that Fall afternoon on the Snake River when you get the first strike of a Brown Trout you will be thankful for the journey.