A couple of weeks ago I was waist deep in the snow in the Swiss Alps. I was headed to an exit point for a wingsuit proximity BASE jump but at that moment I was only concerned with my next step. I was struggling through. I needed to create space around me, force a gap in the snow, pull my crampon-clad foot up and high and then drive it forward. It was tough going. I had to develop a better strategy.
I knew that in order to get through this I had to look up. Focussing on just my next step would leave me stuck waist deep, just one step further forward. Of course I needed to take this next step, but I also needed to think more strategically – where would my 6th step be? What about my 100th step?
I looked up and searched with my eyes. Was there a better way? Could I find a better solution?
I spied an area of what seemed like more compact snow about 10 painful steps to the right. If I headed that way I would be away from where I needed to go. But, if I was right, then the going would be much easier. If I kept my head up and drove my legs in that direction then life might become significantly easier.
And it did.
Instead of being waist deep I found a patch of snow that went only up to my calves. What an amazing different this made. I was able to skirt the deeper snow and made it to the exit point without too much more trouble. I donned my gear and had a fast and energetic wingsuit flight, landing in a snowy field at the base of the cliff. Life was good.
I had been stuck in my moment, focussing just on the present. If I hadn’t looked up and focussed further ahead on my journey I would have been stuck wading through that snow for some considerable time. The lessons are the same in business. Times are tough for many companies. They’re forced just to make ends meet, starved of cash flow and reluctant to take risk, to enter new markets, to be different.
But without putting your head up, defining your strategy and reacting to it you might struggle to free yourself from this cycle. Of course you need to focus on meeting your next order, or your next footstep. But can you take time out somewhere to hold your head high and focus a few steps further ahead, or off to the side?
If you find yourself plodding along then take a quick pause and consider not just your next footstep but the path and the journey.
Question: How far ahead do you focus and what tools do you use?