Welcome to YOU Make a Difference.  Stories...observations and reflection on our Leadership Journey!

Instinct & Clarity

Instinct & Clarity

Have you ever had one of those moments… as if in an instant…everything became perfectly clear and you just knew what to do next...what path to follow? As a self-professed over thinker, it amazes me that some of the biggest decisions in my life were based on an instinct or an impulse. Throughout the years, this instinct & clarity has been a blessing and a curse. For all the times when it got me in “trouble”…it is also solely responsible for all that is good and right in my life. From the job I am currently in…to Noble Cause (& Make a Wish)…..to living in Arizona…to my family!

The curse of it is…

“I am often challenged to explain to others why it is so right so they can see it as clearly as I do…as quickly as I do”

My passion or excitement for the way forward hampers me from taking time to build consensus. Throughout my life I have been fortunate that a lot of the folks around me trust me and follow me almost blindly into the fray as I look to fulfill this instinct and execute to clarity. One of the most vivid examples of my instinct and clarity was when my husband (Jon) and I first met in University. I knew almost from the moment that I met him that he was “the one”. Without a lot of my usual overthinking, I saw very clearly the way forward and it was just a matter of figuring out how to make it a reality. 

As the story goes….It was my last term at Acadia University and I was in the last month or so finishing up my Engineering Certificate as well as a double major in Math and Science. Jon was doing his Engineering Certificate and still had half a term of classes before he could move on to another University to finish the Engineering Degree. As it turned out – we had Electric Circuits class in common and we were able to see each other regularly. I waited “patiently” all semester for Jon to ask me out on a date but despite volunteering to be his lab partner and study buddy he did not take the bait. 

It finally came down to the last class of the year and I was out of time so I cornered him after class and asked him to a movie. He said yes! After we went to the movie, I asked him if he would be my date for graduation and he said yes! After we went to graduation, I asked him if he would take the fall semester off so we could back pack around Europe and he said YES! The plan…which was very clear to me…was that we would save all our money from working for the summer…do Europe…then I would work while Jon finished his last semester and we would start the last leg of our Engineering degree and graduate together. 

Now…as you can imagine….even though we saw the path very clearly explaining it to Jon’s parents (as an example) was not as easy and as clear to them as it was to us. It was common sense…we had no debt from the first leg of the degree and this was our only chance to do this before we acquired debt in the second half of the degree…got full time jobs…got married…settled down and had kids. Seriously…when we would ever have a chance to do this in our lives…NEVER…no brainer…right?? Ok…so I can admit…that my instinct and clarity is a HUGE leap of faith BUT we were true to our words and everything did play out exactly as we said it would. In fact….it wasn’t until 2013…when we took our girls to UK and France…. that we had the chance to go back to Europe…and this time not just the two of us…but as a family.

So…what does this have to do with our leadership journey? 

“As leaders we have to take our teams, our peers and those above us “with us”. Many times OUR instinct and clarity may not always translate to others in the way we need it to… or… in the time frame we would like it to.”

What I have learned at this stage in my life and career is that we sometimes need to put a cold cloth on our head and let our instinct and clarity moment simmer a while. I don’t immediately follow those ideas like I used to… which may be a crying shame… or maybe it is what has provided some calm, comfort and consistency over the past few years. There is a fine line between being a leader that takes chances and leads courageously…. to those that step into the fray…only to find there is no one behind them and supporting the vision/direction that has been established.

I guess the morale of the story is….

“don’t be afraid to follow your instinct…to take chances and to boldly lead your teams towards BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Just don’t forget that they are not mind readers and clarity is important too.”

WHEN you are successful in this endeavor the story ends where everyone can say that the experience was not only worth the leap of faith but is was responsible for almost all that is good and right in their lives….just like Jon and I 25+ years later!

Leadership questions of the week for YOU:  “What is your best story of Instinct and Clarity?” “Do you believe this instinct and clarity is what makes certain leaders successful and unique or do you believe it is a liability and best tamed?” “What are some of the ways you have successfully provided clarity to others in a timely fashion so they take the journey with you?”

Thanks for reading and remember....YOU make a difference!

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