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The Doldrums

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Traditionally, the "doldrums" were regions of high atmospheric pressure in the North and South Atlantic oceans. Because the winds in these areas were weak and unpredictable, sailing ships would often become trapped for weeks while waiting for breezes to carry them to the trade winds. Some, desperate for fresh water and to get to their destinations, would even lighten their loads by driving their cargos of horses overboard to drown, leading to the other name for the areas, the "horse latitudes." But in the modern age, the term doldrums has come to mean a period of being stuck, directionless and uninspired, going nowhere. That's what midsummer tends to feel like, even in a busy organization. The holidays are months away, Q3 seems to be dragging on forever, and it can be difficult to sustain focus and energy for projects. During times like these, drawing energy or inspiration from outside of ourselves is a fool's choice. Rather, leaders must recognize doldrums in themselves or in those they lead and find the right reasons to continue pushing, inventing and stretching their creativity even during those long stretches where it seems that the project is dragging on with no end in sight. Bonuses, incentives-they aren't enough to get us through the doldrums. Our winds need to come from within. What are you doing to be the breeze your people need to sail swiftly?

Traditionally, the "doldrums" were regions of high atmospheric pressure in the North and South Atlantic oceans. Because the winds in these areas were weak and unpredictable, sailing ships would often become trapped for weeks while waiting for breezes to carry them to the trade winds. Some, desperate for fresh water and to get to their destinations, would even lighten their loads by driving their cargos of horses overboard to drown, leading to the other name for the areas, the "horse latitudes."

But in the modern age, the term doldrums has come to mean a period of being stuck, directionless and uninspired, going nowhere. That's what midsummer tends to feel like, even in a busy organization. The holidays are months away, Q3 seems to be dragging on forever, and it can be difficult to sustain focus and energy for projects.

During times like these, drawing energy or inspiration from outside of ourselves is a fool's choice. Rather, leaders must recognize doldrums in themselves or in those they lead and find the right reasons to continue pushing, inventing and stretching their creativity even during those long stretches where it seems that the project is dragging on with no end in sight. Bonuses, incentives-they aren't enough to get us through the doldrums. Our winds need to come from within.

What are you doing to be the breeze your people need to sail swiftly?

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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