Overcoming Plateaus

September 29, 2008 — Leave a comment

For the past 8 years I’ve been stuck. At least when considering my weight, which has been pegged at a certain number. I’ve tried multiple methods to shake off the extra 7-8 kg around my middle, but little seems to work. Over the years I’ve eliminated sodas, white flour, and most junk food from my diet. I regularly bike, swim, run and lift a few weights. But regardless of whether I spend a week buffeting my body in a series of meetings or working out with extra intensity, within a few days the scales seem to revert back exactly to the same value as before.

Physical trainers, coaches and athletes refer to this as a plateau. When athletes experience a performance plateau, some radical change is needed to overcome inertia, get off the well-beaten tracks, and forge new pathways to fresh levels of desired results.

For me, this is taking the form of a 90 day experiment in radically adjusting my diet and exercise regimen. I expect to see some radically different results by the end of this year.

It occurred to me this morning that I may be experiencing the same phenomenon in my leadership. Over the past several years, my role required me to serve many leaders from many different countries over vast physical and cultural distance. Working with an amazing team of people, we figured out ways to communicate, clarify direction, coach, listen, assess and motivate people toward fulfilling a common mission. We stretched, grew, failed, learned, and experienced many moments of shared victory.

Over the past year, I’ve discovered that my new role requires many of those same skills. So I’ve been doing my best with another good team of folks. The difference is that I sense a personal plateau in some tough areas that I have not yet been able to surmount. Specifically, this relates to how I internally process the natural conflicts that come from leadership. I keep experiencing some of the same situations, and I keep responding in the same manner, and I keep getting the same results. Albert Einstein identified this pattern – doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results – as insanity. It’s a leadership plateau.

Leadership is influence. And what is the point of influence? To help an individual or a group of people move together in a new direction. By this definition, conflict is inevitable if leadership is occurring. Now it’s a question of degree and response. I’m asking myself: what lessons of the heart do I need to learn in order to experience different results in the next 90 days in my leadership?

Are you hitting a plateau in your leadership? What attitudes or behaviors might need to be radically addressed to bring new results?

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