Stampede! Or, at least in my mind that’s what I thought was happening.
Granted, now, I realize there was definitely a flare for the dramatic in my response, but I was still pretty green at the whole thing.
We were “driving” cattle, which meant we were trying to move them from one field to another. In the process, they will sometimes naturally run.
The field we were trying to move them out of had a very large ditch (about 40 feet deep) on one side. As we were moving the herd closer to the gate, they started running toward the edge of the ditch, or draw as we called it, I started freaking out.
In the movies, this is where the hero rushes in to divert the herd from the cliff, thus saving the day. So, in my infinite wisdom, I sped over to keep them from jumping to their death.
I didn’t understand one basic concept: cattle may not be hyper intelligent, they’re also generally intelligent enough to realize a 40 foot drop is not a great idea. In other words, the herd was not going to plummet to their death.
The very thing I thought was a danger, was in fact a boundary.
Boundaries are beneficial as you are moving a herd, because it helps reinforce the direction you’re heading. Having a solid boundary on one side allows you to multiply your efforts on the other two sides, and actually increases progress.
Leadership is similar. Sometimes the things we consider to be death traps are actually boundaries in place to help us maximize our effort.
The sacred cows (no pun intended) that drive us crazy actually give us insight into the priorities of those we lead.
The attitudes we don’t understand help us process and choose the right steps forward.
When we understand the limit on one side, we can spend more time on the other two to help push things forward quicker.
Sometimes the boundaries have to be broken through, but often if we shift our mindset just a little, we begin to see the opportunity in front of us and it helps clarify our next steps.
The rest of the story is this: boundaries shouldn’t be boundaries forever. Eventually we moved out of that field into a new one. Those attitudes and sacred cows will eventually stop being boundaries, but only after you’re able to lead forward.
What are you facing today that feels like a death trap, but is actually just a boundary? What adjustment do you need to make to help move things forward?
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