The Angry Ocean:  A leadership lesson.

I would be remiss if I didn’t write at least once about the beach while on vacation.  This morning I took my daily walk on the beach.  I enjoy getting up before the sun and watching the sun rise over the ocean.  Some days I see it, some days I don’t.  Today was one of those days when I didn’t.  In fact, today there was an angry ocean.  Most days here in Hilton Head, the ocean and weather is calm.  Sometimes the ocean can seem more like a lake.  This morning the ocean boiled, the wind howled, the clouds were thick, and there was a cool mist in the air.

It occurred to me while walking today (I had the beach and my thoughts to myself as no one else was brave enough or fool enough to fight the wind) that life and business can be like walking the beach.  Some days the weather is pleasant and you see a glorious sunrise; others you sludge through a gale.  Many times you have no control over the environment, like the weather, and you either rise to the occasion or you roll over and go back to sleep.  In business we need to deal with the turbulent times as well as the calm times.  Periodically a gale can whip up in a hurry and rolling over and going back to bed isn’t one of the options.  We must dig deep and persevere.

Of course sometimes we make our own bad weather.  Our decisions and actions can create self-induced turbulence.  Mother Nature will do what she pleases and great leaders will deal with it as it comes.  Great leaders will also strive to minimize self-inflicted gales.

So, as you look out the windows and see the wind blowing, gray sky and an angry ocean, what are you going to do?

UPDATE:  Yesterday with the angry ocean, there wasn’t another soul on the beach.  This morning the ocean calmed down, the wind and clouds were gone, and the sunrise was spectacular.  Oh, and there were a bazillion people out on the beach.

An excerpt from one of my all time favorite leadership books – Great By Choice by Jim Collins
The 20 Mile March.  This is a 5 minute video.

BONUS BEACH THOUGHT:  This morning I also found the largest sand dollar that I have ever seen.  It wasn’t the prettiest, but easily the biggest.  I carefully put it in my jacket pocket for the rest of my walk.  Later I bent down to look at a shell and I felt a small pop.  The sand dollar cracked in two.  Disgusted with my carelessness, it occurred to me that employees are a lot like sand dollars; if you don’t handle them with care they will break and go away.