Episode Focus: In this episode, I want to share some more leadership thoughts that I had while climbing the Manitou Springs Incline a second time. This is a follow-up article to what I had previously discussed in VOCL episode 49. I also want to share a very interesting TEDx Talk that I have heard a few months ago. What’s making it very interesting for me is that I have completed my first review of the book that further expands this Talk. Finally, a key part of leadership involves communication, and I want to hear from you.
VOCL Main Feature
Manitou Springs Incline Redux – More Leadership Thoughts
On 3 November 2015, I took the opportunity to once again climb the Manitou Springs Incline. If you haven’t heard/read about my first time making this climb and the leadership lessons that came to me, please go to the podcast/show notes available here. That article focused on vision, preparation, psyching up, the initial rush of excitement, the reality of a hard journey, communication, making difficult decisions, gutting it out, maintaining your focus, and congratulating your team when you achieve success. This time, I’ll provide you with thoughts on how achieving a major goal can provide the team with confidence and the ability to increase the speed of implementation, increase performance, and that you need to consider/shape the conditions for success.
You gain confidence and speed with experience
You will recall that I was somewhat nervous the first time that I climbed the Incline; regardless of the research that I had conducted, I wasn’t fully certain of what I was getting myself into. This time, I had first-hand knowledge of what to expect at the start, the bail-out point, the false summit, and what the end of the incline looked like. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a few butterflies in my stomach, though – it’s still a formidable undertaking!
I was much more confident that I was going to succeed that day. I didn’t spend as much time contemplating the climb as I was driving up and then standing at the bottom; I simply started to climb. I felt that I had started out a little too fast during my first climb, so I resolved to start slower with the ultimate aim of finishing faster since I would need fewer breaks near the top. My strategy worked – I was able to shave over 15 minutes off of my previous best time. What’s interesting is that I didn’t believe that that much of a performance increase was possible. It makes me think about what other limiting beliefs that I have in my life, and whether they are real or perceived.
As a leader, you learn much when you strive towards and accomplish a goal. Not only do you have the “win” as part of your track record, you also have the opportunity to incorporate those lessons into achieving your next goal. You and your team have experienced success, and you know that you can achieve your goals. As such, you become more confident in achieving your next goal, you become more willing to challenge your limiting beliefs in what is possible for you and your team, and you become less anxious about taking on a challenge.
You start wanting to increase your performance
Although I started off slower, I still had the final goal of beating my time. This is nothing new; I’ve done road races from 5k to full marathons, and I always strive to improve my time. As part of pushing my boundaries, I wanted to go for longer intervals before taking a break. In some of the steeper sections, the first time I climbed I would pause after 20’ (6m). This time, I resolved that I would go no fewer than 30’ (9m) before allowing myself a quick break. It doesn’t sound like much, but it made a significant difference in my time and how I felt throughout the climb. The next time, I will try 33’ (10m). It doesn’t sound like much, but that is a 10% increase!
What was also interesting is that I found myself not focusing as much on the climb. At some stages, I found myself thinking about what extra effort it would take to get myself to the Barr Camp – the next major milestone. It’s 3.5 miles (5.6km) further, with only a ‘minor’ further elevation gain of 1,200’ feet (366m) from the top of the Incline. After the arduous Incline, I have a feeling that it wouldn’t be TOO bad, but I certainly won’t take my preparations lightly.
You and your team will have gained momentum after achieving your first big goal. After a brief celebration, put that momentum to use in setting an even bigger goal. You also are wiser about potential pitfalls along the way, allowing you to sidestep these and save yourself time and resources. You’ve heard of downward spirals; this is an UPWARD spiral of success.
Some conditions are easier than others
The first time that I climbed the incline, it was a fairly hot day. This time, the weather was much cooler and the sky had more clouds, which provided relief from what can be some fairly strong sunlight. The cooler conditions meant that I didn’t sweat as much and that it took much longer before my body was “overheated” and thus needed a break. With fewer breaks, I was able to climb (and subsequently descend) much faster the second time around.
I was still able to do the climb in shorts and a T-shirt, but it was still Fall. The Incline can be climbed year-round. If I was to have climbed a month later, I would have required long pants and long sleeves, a jacket, toque, gloves, and perhaps even some footwear traction such as Yaktraks® to deal with the snow and ice. I could still climb the Incline, but the conditions would have changed and I would have had to adapt to the risks (frostbite, slipping, etc.) accordingly.
In this case, I got to choose the date that I executed my plan; that date was largely based on favourable conditions. If possible, choose conditions that are optimal for the execution of your vision. You can still execute your vision in less-than-favourable conditions, but ensure that you take sufficient actions to mitigate the negative risks.
I look forward to providing you more leadership thoughts from the Barr camp and beyond!
VOCL Resources and Articles
The article that I will cover today is by Michelle Mras. Well, it’s not so much an article as it is a TEDx Talk.
- From the YouTube clip, you can see the following extract: “Michelle is an Inspirational Speaker, International Coach, and Corporate Trainer with the John Maxwell Leadership Team. She brings her vivacity, personal anecdotes and passion to energize and evoke positive change around her.” For me, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Michelle since my arrival in Colorado Springs. I always knew there was something special about her, and after watching her TEDx Talk in Colorado Springs earlier this fall, I can see that she has a true gift for leadership and storytelling. Many people can give three actionable ideas to become a better person; few have the gift to do so in a such a compelling fashion. To quickly summarize, the points are:
- Have a plan (“if you don’t have a plan, you are just wandering”)
- Eat dessert first (“all the wonderful things in life”)
- Avoid ruts (“the difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions that you build it”)
- My favourite quote that speaks to her unique perspective: “The glass is not half-full; it’s refillable.”
- Over the course of 19+ minutes, you will be brought upon a life-long journey and be standing right next to Michelle during happy times and heart-wrenching moments as she shares life and leadership lessons from her amazing mother-in-law Mary (hence the name of the talk and this title).
- Michelle (and TEDx Colorado Springs) – thank you for sharing this story. If Michelle’s story resonates with you, then please leave a comment on the YouTube Page – more comments increase Michelle’s possibility of getting selected for national-level TED Talks.
- For VOCL listeners/readers – have you been fortunate enough to have a Mary in your life? If so, please let me know! For more information on Michelle, please go to her website.
VOCL Listener Feedback
I received the following comment from Bill England via LinkedIn for the article titled, “Why Do You Lead”.
- Great post, Chris. Why do people choose to go into leadership positions? That is a question everyone in a leadership position should ask themselves every few years. If this self ‘audit’ reveals that you are in it for purely selfish reasons “I will do anything to get promoted” then your effectiveness as a leader is or will be corrupted. I always wished subordinates had an opportunity to rate or assess their leaders. Then that result would be reflected on a leaders own performance evaluation. I found that poor leaders promoted other poor leaders either because they were intimidated by subordinates that actually had better leadership skills than their own or because they lead using the power of their position vice their own skills.
Thank you so much for your thoughts on this, Bill. For you listening to this podcast or reading the blog – what do you think?
VOCL Closing Thoughts / Future Episodes
What’s been happening
- Hopefully, you will have paused the podcast so that you can hear Michelle’s great TEDx Talk titled “Eat, Drink, and Be Mary”. If you haven’t, please pause now – that’s okay, I’ll be here when you come back… Okay, now that you’re back, I’m happy to let you know that Michelle is taking all of the power and emotion of her TEDx Talk and has created a book! I just finished looking at it yesterday, and let’s just say that Mary was a very interesting person, and I would have liked seeing her in a leadership capacity. Although the publishing process can take a while, I’ll make sure that I let you know when the book available.
- Okay – I’ve been leaving this for last. I have failed as a leader. I have failed because I haven’t been effective at communicating with you. Yes, this is the 50th podcast episode, there are over 300 entries on the VOCL website, VOCL is on various forms of social media, but that is pretty much one-way communication. I want to hear from you. I need to hear from you. I have provided lots of different contact information (they are all covered at the end of the show and are on the VOCL website), but I’ve created one specifically for YOU to determine the future of VOCL. The multiple-choice should take less than 1 minute, but I’m guessing that if you are willing to take the survey, you may also want to provide a little more of your (written) thoughts on what works, what doesn’t work, and how VOCL can better serve you.
- Here are the questions:
- (Multiple Choice) How much value does VOCL provide to you?
- (Multiple Choice) How do you feel about the NUMBER of ARTICLES that VOCL features?
- (Multiple Choice) How do you feel about the NUMBER of GUESTS that VOCL features?
- (Optional Short answer) My most favourite part of VOCL is _____
- (Optional Short answer) My least favourite part of VOCL is _____
- (Optional Long answer) If you were the producer of VOCL, what would you change (if anything?)
- (Optional Long Answer) Any additional comments. This is where you can provide any additional feedback, questions, concerns, etc. The surveys are completely anonymous, so if you want me to get back to you about something that you’ve written, PLEASE write down your name and contact information in the additional comments section. Thank you!
- Your feedback is requested by the end of February 29th, 2016. Starting on 1st of March, I will take down the survey and compile and analyze the results. I’m not certain exactly when, but you will be informed of the results in March 2016.
- Your feedback will help me know whether I should feature more or fewer guests. Your feedback will let me know whether I should feature more or fewer articles. Your feedback will let me know what you like and what you don’t like. Finally, and perhaps fundamentally, your feedback will help me determine whether the VOCL podcast and/or website continues.
Takeaways and introspection
In this podcast episode, I have been talking about thoughts on how achieving a major goal can provide the team with confidence and the ability to increase the speed of implementation, increase performance, and that you need to consider/shape the conditions for success. I want you to think about a big goal that you and your team have achieved in the past, and how you can leverage that past success into future success.