Personal Leadership Development from Dr. Seuss
If you are alert and open, you can find connections to the things you are most passionate about just about anywhere. For me, it happened again a few nights ago as I read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss to my kids. Like many, I was given this book as I graduated high school. It’s a favorite of ours and we come back to it often.
As I read, I found myself thinking about how good leaders find their way out of confusion and ‘slumps’. Many of us can relate to that little guy in the book charging out into the world to seize his destiny. There are many meaningful messages that resonate at several stages in our lives.
“Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t”
We spend time and energy as leaders doing everything we can to make good decisions and succeed in whatever we do. With all the precautions, critical thinking and right decisions, some times things still don’t go our way.“Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And you gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
It was here, when the little guy finds himself in a place where the streets aren’t marked, and choices abound. Its dark, lonely and confidence is lacking. This when I started getting excited. I thought Dr. Seuss would tell us exactly how to get out of that place! This is a place I’ve been on occasion… a place of confusion. It is the subsequent “Waiting Place” where it seems like the only thing to do is to hold on for things to change.
However, Dr. Seuss failed me here… that little guy just “somehow escapes”! As if it were so easy!! I’ve been in both those places… quite a few times both personally (in relationships, exercise and diet plans, etc.) and professionally (losing passion, changing careers, feeling disengaged, etc.), and it’s not so easy! But with some introspection and support from others, we can escape! Like many leaders, I’m an action-oriented person. I feel uncomfortable in “limbo”. So here are few things that I’ve learned to DO when I’ve found myself in a slump:
- Acknowledging I’m in the slump. Sometimes it’s just easier to pretend that things are okay, but it has always caught up with me. Being self-aware, and checking in with myself on strong emotions that bubble up is a good place to start.
- Be gentle with myself. It’s OK to be in a slump. I take comfort in knowing that I am NOT the only one who has failed, taken the wrong path or found myself unhappy with where I am.
- Check in with myself. “What is it that I don’t like about how things are going?” “What parts are actually okay?” (Sometimes it feels like you need to “throw baby out with the bathwater”… and its not always the case)
- Analyze how I got here. What can I learn about the path I have been on? What things went well? What could I have done differently?
- Ask myself, “Will this pass?” Sometimes the issue is situational or transient – be on the look out for that too!
- Get a plan. Or a few key actions, at least. Sometimes it has helped me to try new things; learn or investigate other methods or fields of work. Even just the exploration can help open my mind to possibilities or help me find ways to tweak the current situation for positive change.
- Reach out to others! Find trusted friends, mentors or a coach that can help you to find clarity, provide honest and candid feedback, formulate a plan and be an accountability partner as you execute that plan.