Spiders are some of the most courageous paratroopers in the world.
As a paratrooper in the Army most of my career, 63 of my best friends and I would routinely jump out of planes, rapidly assemble in the dead of night, and move on to do the Nation’s bidding.
I remember one of those jumps vividly. One night, as we all sat awaiting the drop zone, I looked down to my reserve parachute on my chest to notice a small spider nestled into a fold in the fabric. Not a big deal, I had already checked the reserve. This gal was just along for the ride. And an interesting one at that since I was about to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
As I think about that spider, this was less of a big deal to her than it was for me. She takes a leap of faith every night. In fact, her life depends on it. Spiders oftentimes rebuild their web every night. The first step in that process is for the spider to attach the first strand of her web to an anchor point, then leap, and let the wind blow her to the next anchor point, where she can then continue the process of building the web. She has a clear vision of where she’s going with the night’s project. The first step is the leap, then a certain dependence the wind is favorable and will get her to the next point, and finally, staying focused on the vision.
Being a leader is oftentimes the same. Once we have a clear vision of what we have to do, the hardest part is the first leap of faith. Sometimes we may analyze that first leap for a long time. Questioning our competence, testing which way the wind is blowing, second guessing our preparation. The spider doesn’t need to second guess – her preparation is perfect, she is fully equipped, and she has a clear vision.
Do the leaders in your organization have the same confidence? Have you painted a clear vision of what is expected and how it will look when the goal is achieved? Are they prepared with the competencies they need to move forward and have you spent time with them building confidence in their capabilities? Are they equipped with the resources they need to get the job done? Do they know that the team supports them in their endeavor regardless of how the wind blows?
If you expect your leaders to take the first leap to the next big project that will help your company gain competitive advantage, these are important questions. As the pace of uncertainty only increases, preparing leaders for ambiguity is essential to success. World-class performers do not second guess themselves – they prepare.
World-class performers always have a clear vision of their goal. They understand that what is required for success is sometimes counterintuitive, like that first leap. They seek out coaches and mentors who support their endeavor. They know that preparation is key – so they develop measurable action plans that get them to their goal. They don’t sweat failure, sometimes the wind doesn’t blow they way they thought, but they stay focused on the vision and keep moving towards it.
Spiders take that leap every night because they are confident in their preparation that enables success. Have you enabled your leaders to take that leap?