Do You Know What You’re Doing?

Years ago as a young child, my son would take my husband’s face in his hands, look him in the eye and ask, “Do you know what you’re doing?” We never really figured out what our son was referring to, but that question has become a family catch phrase whenever someone looks a little lost.

The last few weeks, I have attended a new fitness class. While I’m starting to get the hang of it now, the first few times I definitely had no idea what I was doing. I struggled to keep up with the instructor while surreptitiously looking around to see if I was doing the moves correctly. It was unlike any exercise I’d done before, so my body wanted to revert to old habits to compensate.

As leaders, there are many times when we will not know what we are doing. In fact, that’s a big part of what leadership is about: bridging the gap from what we do know, to an uncertain or unclear future. We will want to revert to old habits and paradigms to help us make sense of the new information and the choices ahead, but they will often be meaningless as we stand at the edge of a new frontier.

But don’t let the uncertainty keep you from action. Be honest about what you don’t know but continue to step forward, encouraging others to join you on the journey. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you are not lost; you’re a leader.

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