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Action Blindness

Dr. Foster Mobley // History, Wisdom Leading

When I was much younger, before the advent of cell phones or pagers, I had an experience shared by many at the time - the experience of trying to meet up with family or friends in a crowded place like an airport or amusement park. Looking back, it was epic in its comedy and predictability. Both parties wandered around to where we each guessed the other would be, probably passing each other in the crowd and getting frustrated. It was only when one side stayed put and waited patiently that we all connected with the people we were looking for. Humans don't do patience very well. Leaders certainly don't. We prefer to be assertive, to force the action and make things happen. It's what we are trained to do, in fact. We want our teams to have "first mover advantage." If we can't always be smarter than the competition, we'll at least work harder and often take the first steps. A bias to act is an important part of a leader's tool kit, but it's a bias best tempered with patience. Said another way, assertive action with a purpose is part of effective leading; action for its own sake is foolish. Wise leaders know that sometimes, you simply have to stop walking frantically, sit down, and look for the opportunities in whatever finds you. Are you solely biased to action? What opportunities have you missed by being impatient?

When I was much younger, before the advent of cell phones or pagers, I had an experience shared by many at the time - the experience of trying to meet up with family or friends in a crowded place like an airport or amusement park. Looking back, it was epic in its comedy and predictability. Both parties wandered around to where we each guessed the other would be, probably passing each other in the crowd and getting frustrated. It was only when one side stayed put and waited patiently that we all connected with the people we were looking for.

Humans don't do patience very well. Leaders certainly don't. We prefer to be assertive, to force the action and make things happen. It's what we are trained to do, in fact. We want our teams to have "first mover advantage." If we can't always be smarter than the competition, we'll at least work harder and often take the first steps.

A bias to act is an important part of a leader's tool kit, but it's a bias best tempered with patience. Said another way, assertive action with a purpose is part of effective leading; action for its own sake is foolish. Wise leaders know that sometimes, you simply have to stop walking frantically, sit down, and look for the opportunities in whatever finds you.

Are you solely biased to action? What opportunities have you missed by being impatient?

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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams