What lessons do you learn on the journey?


Sunday morning the temperature was great and the skies were clear, perfect weather for a bike ride and a spot of geocaching. Being a goal orientated kind of person, I had in mind to cover about 20 miles and find 6 geocaches. Geocaching is a hobby/sport which gets me out of the house and active if you want to find out more check out this site www.geocaching.com

After about a mile my front tyre developed a puncture. Now normally I ride with a spare inner tube and did on this occasion, unfortunately it had already developed a split so was of no use.  It would have been easy to head back home to watch the Grand Prix as there was no chance of me covering the miles, and getting all the caches at that point. However, I decided that as it was such a nice day I would lock the bike up where it was and head out on foot.

Changing my method of travel also had some unexpected advantages. Travelling at a slower pace than normal and not having to concentrate hard on avoiding rocks and tree roots gave me the chance to take in the scenery, and think of other things. For example I normally blast past the bridge that is in the photo at the top of this post. Today I had the time to enjoy it and take the photo.

The slower pace also gave me a chance to think through a problem at work that had been evading me for a few weeks and come up with a solution. Had I been on the bike then I am certain I would not have come to this revelation. Further into my walk I reflected on the leadership lesson that I was learning and one I have repeatedly experienced. So often with a project/programme something will happen that derails progress and things don’t go exactly according to plan; people talk about cancelling; effectively giving up. But when you hold people and yourself to the original objectives then you find ways to still deliver. Now it may not be exactly what you set out to achieve a reduced scope maybe but deliver nonetheless. Also so often in these scenarios you learn something through the tough project either about a better way to deliver, a more ingenious use of the technology or perhaps something about yourself. What I repeatedly learn is that giving up or staying still is not an option it does not help with progress.

With my bike ride I could have turned back and not achieved anything. It would be easy to look at it and say I failed as I did not meet all of my goals but I don’t believe that the goal is always what you start out to achieve.

The best leaders are the ones that don’t give up just because things don’t go according to plan because they have the awareness to recognise that staying still is not an option and chances are they will discover something important along the way.

As for what I achieved; yes I found 3 geocaches and covered 10 miles, but I also got to take in the scenery and solve a big problem. What leadership lessons have you learnt on the journey?

  • Will Barnett

    It’s a great point Neil. I think another thing I’ve learned sometimes which may relate to your recent bike/foot journey is that at times of change where things don’t feel right it’s actually better to slow down and get some perspective and insight to refocus on your goals. Tackling problems at a different pace or through different eyes can radically change your course of action and choices for the better.

    In reality this can mean take some time out (if possible) or get advice from an external advisor or mentor that you know thinks differently to you.

  • http://www.neiljpearce.com Neil Pearce

    Completely agree Will and the external perspective can be really useful too whilst remembering that no one understands your own problems like you!

  • http://www.davidsanger.com David Sanger

    “The best leaders are the ones that don’t give up just because things don’t go according to plan” 
    Key point. That’s exactly when leadership begins to matter. thanks

  • Mukul Mathur

    Interesting observation, btw I got to your blog from linkedin. My limited experience in Project management has taught me that something will always go wrong. I usually try to do as much scenario analysis as possible at different stages of project.