“Water is the driving force of all nature.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
I have always been drawn to water and found it to be somewhat mysterious. My intrigue with water began the summer I turned 5 years old when I spied an emerald green patch of foliage up the mountain behind our cabin. I hiked up the mountain, curious about this unusual, out-of-place patch of lush greenery. To my youthful delight, upon arriving, I noticed that the emerald green patch was fresh mint and oregano growing. I sat down and while savoring the tingling taste of the mint, I heard a slight noise coming from the ground where the herbs were growing. I peered over and was surprised to see freshwater gurgling and bubbling up out of the ground forming a small pool of water. I was enchanted and wondered, how can this be? Thus began my curiosity of water. When I asked my father about it, he said that the properties of water are unique.
What does this have to do with thinking out of the box, you may be asking yourself. I found that when I suggest to a client to think outside the box, I receive a sideway glance implying ok, how? I found merely suggesting thinking outside the box was not sufficient enough and started using my water analogy as a way to entice a different way of thinking.
As my father mentioned, water has several unique properties that can be used analogously as a way to understand out of the box thinking especially for leaders during difficult and challenging situations. Let’s explore three properties as an avenue for inspiring leaders to set themselves apart and explore new territory.
Water does not have to flow from a higher gradient to a lower gradient as I experienced that summer day when I discovered the natural spring. Leadership is often about leading against the grain and pushing onward, and upward, holding the vision. How can you defy the norm and succeed? How can you change your approach and push through the obstacles and emerge victorious?
2.Floating in a Solid State
We all know that water floats when frozen. Exemplary leaders can rise above crisis, rather than getting caught up in the depths of the situation by maintaining a solid stance based upon their strengths of creativity and passion. One of the leadership strengths is “holding it all together” during difficult times. Do you become overwhelmed with a critical upset? Can you rise above and maintain a reliable, constant, and firm posture during the upset or do you get caught up in the milieu and lose focus?
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim, you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead, you relax and float.”
~ Alan Watts
I love how water meanders down a mountain, creating a path to its final destination. If a rock or log is blocking its path, it finds a way to get around this obstruction. Inspiring leadership can overcome the obstacles rather than getting stuck and blocked. In the midst of confrontation, the leader, like the water, can see a way around the blockage not through strength but perseverance. What comprises this perseverance? What do you draw upon when confronted with confrontations and obstacles of steering the company on its path? The inspirational leader draws upon their integrity, passion, accountability, delegation, creativity, communication, all contained with a high level of respect and dignity.
Thinking outside the box is to flow like water against the gradient and discerning which path to take. An inspiring leader can find ways around the hurdles and know whether to continue upon the direction chosen or changing direction and forging a new path to reach the goal. Like the natural spring I discovered that summer day, a leader can be a flowing resource for the company with renewed ideas and support, sustaining the team during difficult times.