I don’t like stumps, rocks or snakes – I actually hate snakes…
One of the great things for me about living in Utah is exploring the unbelievable amount of trails. The sensory-satisfaction that occurs is amazing. Personally, I like to run on the trails and challenge myself to see how far, fast and high I can go.
One piece of advice given to me recently was to be sure to look up from the trail frequently to take in the view. My problem is actually the opposite. I am always scanning the horizon. I love coming across a view that stops me dead in my tracks.
This also sums me when approaching our FI’s digital transformation. I am obsessed with what we can be, where we can go and how mightily we can delight our customers. Seems like it makes sense since I am paid to lead our FI’s strategy and execution. Oh yeah, execution…
I am a daydreamer. Sometimes when I settle into a great cadence on a trail, I get incredible clarity. I can see that digital omega – the place we are going with vivid detail and imagery. My brain synthesizes all of the learnings from this great tribe of influencers into a symphony of complex clarity. Caution Will Robinson.
First come the stumps
It is important to keep your eye on the path. A couple of weeks ago, on a descent, a buddy was gaining on me from behind. In the split second that I glanced behind to see how close, I caught a stump and performed a Pee-Wee Herman dance back to stability, almost careening off the path.
It happened so fast. These things do.
We recently launched a new security upgrade to enhance our screening for fraud. Before midnight, our system began duplicating ACH files, then summarily rejecting them all as duplicates. I detest security upgrades. They aren’t sexy. They don’t delight customers. BUT, they do keep us away from stumps. You actually do not make it very far on your journey if you aren’t watching for stumps. You never get to that perfect vantage point. You miss that view at the end if you forget to look.
Oh, did I mention the snakes?
My friend also gave me this advice – you really should be looking up and down at the same time, because if you stop looking down, you may miss another one of Utah’s gifts…
Did I mention that I don’t like snakes? Even thinking about them possibly being on my trail can really take me out of the moment. This important moment! The exact reason I am up here is to experience these moments, not to have images of snakes in my head. How dare that imaginary snake rob me of this!
Perspiration, Inspiration, Ideation
I just want to run and lose myself, swimming in my endorphins, looking at the incredible vistas and visualizing successes. I cannot do that. You can’t get to the summit without perspiration. My team needs to see me sweat. They need to know I’ll roll up my sleeves. After all, the views aren’t just for me. Pictures are nice, but nothing beats getting there together and sharing the view.
Can we talk about the need for self-awareness? This journey is a delicate balance of skills. There are times to sprint, times we must dodge obstacles, times we jump, and finally, times when we must stop dead in our tracks and take everything in. (This is when I snap some pics)
Self-awareness. Mindfulness. Call it what you will, but we have to understand a lot here. I know that I am probably not going to jump over large rocks after two hip replacements. I am not used to this altitude, having grown up in swampy New Orleans. My lungs constantly remind me of this. I know my limitations. I wear my scars as battle emblems.
The path forward isn’t just about the surroundings either. I carry a lot of obstacles in my head. People seem to love to tell me about all of the snake-sightings on these trails, but I can’t dwell on that if I want to reach the summit. I need to overcome my fears. I need to look up and down (and inside and outside), all at the same time.
Context is Everything
The history of an organization is a wonderful thing, in that it allows us to learn from experiences, giving context as to how we arrived where we are. We have taken a winding path of switchbacks, steep ups-and-downs and even tumbles to get to this wonderful place of success. We have scars. We need to look around and know that we are a sum of all of the parts of the journey so far, but we are also the beneficiary of the current view of success.
The path forward can only begin from the place where we are.
We have arrived through a collective journey. Very few of the tribe that set out on this journey are still on the team. Nevertheless, we arrived here because of all of them, and because of all of us. Hypothetically, if you were to replace our entire staff, the new tribe is still required to start from this very spot, but without the benefit of context, learnings and our passion. This new tribe only has the raw materials we left behind. They don’t even have a path. They certainly don’t see our vistas.
I’ll take this path, replete with the rocks, stumps and yes, even the snakes and build from this very spot. I will do so knowing that I have to exercise all of my senses, clinging to the history of the path while looking ahead, and down and around. I will break a sweat. I will pause. I will dodge. I will stop to rest. But just you wait… you ain’t seen nothing yet!