Sunday, January 17, 2010

Headwinds and Headways

This morning as I was riding on a road that parallels the airport runway, I was working harder than usual due to the presence of a strong headwind. The notoriously stubborn breeze slowed all the riders down appreciably, and it was so easy to be winded by pushing even harder. I cannot imagine how salmon consistently and persistently swim against the currents of a raging river, to reach an originating location where they can spawn and then perish.

The upside was, when you returned from the other way you accelerated significantly, and it was effortless. That tailwind assisted us by giving us a much-needed push in the right direction.

I felt as if I was working on an experiment on aerodynamic profile in a wind tunnel; so, I leaned forward and adopted the tuck-in position, with my abdomen almost touching my thighs. Resorting to applying physics helped, although the occasional side-winds also presented a challenge, too.

Headwinds are present in our daily lives: in our conversations, and in our relationships. We face resistance, hesitation, indecision and inertia. Knowing that these will be present, we need to plough through without over-expending our resources, patience and passion. We can only get frustrated if we hit the wall, and insist on breaking it down. Some walls may not be easily toppled; instead, we may need to scale them. Headwinds are necessary if a plane is to take off and land safely. When others doubt us and our abilities, they are controlling the winds for us, albeit for a while until we sail past these pre-judgments.

Headway is when we turn our face towards the winds. It is more important how we work with the direction of the wind. Making headway indicates that we have made progress through previously similar conditions. When a client chooses to participate in our conversation, we have collectively made progress as we open ourselves to possibilities and our potential.

Tailwinds may be useful and make for easier work, however an over-reliance on them can lead us to become economical in our energy. We can become lazy by agreeing to work selectively. It is almost akin to riding downhill, where gravity takes over, and the rider cruises along until he reaches the bottom of the hill.

Leadership Lessons: The winds of change shift constantly, and we need to catch them – the way we launch a kite and fly it. Perhaps it is in our nature to push when we are pushed. However, we can sometimes relent and release, and surrender ourselves to alternatives and align ourselves to other people’s ideas and perspectives.

Addendum: In THE HARD CORE APPROACH, Matthew suggested that hard core also involves passion. I agree. Passion can be a strong driver and motivator for sustaining a hobby, pursuit, cause or project. Passion can energise artists to create beautiful works of art, or art installations that state or symbolise a strong message. Leo Tolstoy's War & Peace, Michelangelo's painting of Judgement Day on the altar of the Sistine Chapel, and James Cameron's Avatar (and Titanic) paid abundant attention to detail - their persistence, patience and determination achieved outstanding results.

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