Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Merriam-Webster - a path, progression, or line of development.
Wikipedia - A trajectory is a path that an object with mass in motion follows through space or as a function of time.
Simply put: a trajectory is a path of a moving object.
During our current hard game, what experiences are we intentionally utilizing to grow our people's leadership capacity and influence their leadership trajectory?
I really enjoyed the amazing professors and diverse cohort of fellow-students I studied with to complete my Master's Degree in Leadership/Business when I was in my mid-forties. That Trinity Western University experience, together with my other high-performance experiences of playing and coaching in the NHL, broadcasting, and business, highlight growth points in my life that forced me to get better. I realize that each time that I added skills, or developed my Inner Game as a leader, the development came about through having a specific experience.
In his great book Liminal Thinking, Dave Gray shares a simple fictional story that highlights the importance of experiences. Many years ago a king brought all of the blind people from his kingdom into a large castle and lined them up against one wall of a room. On the opposite wall, the king had placed an elephant. The king asked the blind people to walk across the room, experience what was at the other side, and then come back to discuss with him. As you might surmise, one person experienced the trunk of the elephant, another the tail or the side of the elephant. As the blind people returned to the king they began to argue... "that didn't feel like a rope (tail), that felt like a wall (side)."
Dave Gray is not telling this story to highlight kings, elephants, or blind people. He wants us to realize that as each person experienced the elephant differently; their experience impacted their version of their reality. Dave Gray nailed me at the end of the story when he said, "We are all blind."
No one person in this life has a handle on the totality of reality. It's too much, too big, and like the elephant, it has too many parts, too many facets. We experience of our "elephant" (what we feel or see) or our experience of the current crisis, to develop our current reality and this, in turn, influences our ability to lead through the next crisis.
Dr. Manfred Zimmerman suggests that our capacity for receiving information is about 11 million bits per second, but our "attention capacity" (what we process consciously) is closer to only 40 bits per second.* What grabs our attention is critical because we do not have a lot of attention capacity. Our tendency is to pay attention to one thing at a time, and we often pay attention to things that meet our personal needs. I want to personally thank every hockey coach that I experienced for helping me "pay attention" to important parts of my development so that I could compete at the highest level of my game.
The question, then, must be: Can we personally increase our intentionality around what we, and our people, are paying attention to? If experiences help or hinder our growth as leaders (or the growth of the people on our teams), how can we pay attention to and focus on the parts of this COVID-19 experience that will enhance and develop the leadership skills we must develop in order to thrive during our next crisis?
Henry David Thoreau: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
The Art of Racing in the Rain: "The car goes where the eyes go!"
My friend, Jim Janz: "We always end up in the direction of our gaze.”
It's easy to just look at life, but it takes intense and intentional focus to see what we need to see. Remember, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Many people fail to spend the energy to actually see. Jesus said this when explaining the parables to His disciples: People are hearing, but they don't really hear. People are seeing but they don't really see.
People need other people to help them make sense of their reality by confirming certain things that they both see.
In writing our next book, click here to pre-order, I have been challenging myself to develop clarity around intentional growth and to build a process that helps us all better understand the development loops that are impacted by our life experiences.
Here is my simple look at how I have experienced my leadership growth TRAJECTORY:
What I SEE influences what I THINK
What I THINK activates what I SPEAK
What I SPEAK indicates what I BELIEVE
What I BELIEVE becomes how I BEHAVE
How I BEHAVE impacts who I BECOME
Who I BECOME frames-in what I SEE!
During this Covid-19 experience, are you helping your people focus on, perceive, or see things in a way that develops their Future Positive Leadership growth?
This Covid-19 experience can be a (wall/side, tail/rope) leadership development Doom-Loop or a leadership development Growth-Loop for you and each of your people.
It may all come down to what you help them see!