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Sometimes when I write, I formulate ideas as I go. Okay, maybe a lot of the time.

That’s why last Thursday’s post (Cast the Vision, Not the Path) has been replaying in my mind. Do I truly think for leadership, it’s beneficial to set the destination and let someone else reach it?

Let me rephrase the concept for today’s post: Think trails, not highways.

Growing up, I spent countless days and hours on my dad’s farm. We lived in town, so every time we went to the farm we started the same way: out of the drive way, turn right on the highway that led to the barn. That path only changed when our destination was different.

Once we got on the farm, however, there was no pavement. There were no highways. There were dirt paths worn down over the years.

But even those dirt paths had variations. Pot holes in pavement are simply mud puddles on a dirt road. So guess what? You drive around mud puddles, creating a new path.

Only once or twice during my life working on the farm did we drastically change the paths to get to our destination, but we had that freedom. We knew where we were going, so how we got there was simply a matter of efficiency.

When we think trails not highways in leadership, we understand the destination plays the key role. As leaders, we have to set a clear vision as to what we want, then allow those we lead to choose the path, to some extent. And that can be scary.

Time and time again in my life, I have experienced the fear and anxiety of entrusting someone with a task, sometimes regretting the decision as they are beating out their own path, and then to realize at the end, the result was what I hoped.

Not everyone sees the same trail as me. And that’s okay.

But we have to cast a clear and compelling destination. If we leave room for ambiguity on the destination, those we lead run the risk of getting lost in the weeds.

So, what vision are you needing to cast? What destination do you need to set out for those around you? Are you willing to think trails not highways?


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