Snow has an interesting effect on everything. It takes every adult back to childhood with the memories of winter frolicking and it creates jubilation with children as the words “school closed” spider across television screens.
It also has an impact on our travel. Middle Tennessee was in the path of a severe winter snowstorm this past weekend. I had a business trip planned with a client at the southern tip of Alabama – a drive that should have taken 6 ½ hours. Factor in snow, sleet worried drivers, and that trip become 11 hours – four of which included the 100 mile trek out of Tennessee.
During those four hours I saw numerous mishaps, stranded drivers, and conditions that made you wonder how in the world a vehicle landed a certain way. After making it safely to the state line with weather conditions of rain [which was a welcome site], I began to think.
How quickly did travel seem to be safe yet suddenly become hazardous?
As leaders, how quickly can the same happen? I believe it can begin with a single decision.
It is so easy to get into our leadership routine. We show up, do our job, interact with others, transact business, solve problems and return the next day to do it all over again. We intend to stay on course, but how often do we make a decision that could ultimately become hazardous…to either ourselves or someone else?
There have been several stories in the news recently following the impact of decisions made. John Edwards’ infidelity some two years ago is now coming to full light. The public continues to wonder where Tiger Woods is since his Thanksgiving traffic incident. And the list goes on.
I believe there are some valuable lessons to learn in our own leadership – if we pay attention. Think long and hard about any decision that involves someone else – directly or indirectly.
Here are three quick take-aways to keep in mind:
1. Decisions made in a split second can have long-lasting effects.
2. The language of business is money but the language of loyalty is character.
3. Despite your accomplishments, one poor decision can become your legacy.
I arrived safely back in Tennessee after an eventful travel weekend. On my way trip back, I passed several of those same vehicles I saw on Friday – still stranded, some wrecked. I hope the travelers are okay.
For our leadership mishaps, I wish the same.