I can still remember the feeling of handling the controls of the small plane flying over Beaver Lake. The scenery was beautiful, and the sense of momentary control of the airplane was awe-inspiring.
No, I am not a pilot, but my friend Mark is. For a brief moment, Mark allowed me to experience what it feels like to fly a plane. I was inspired that day as I learned from Mark about his training to become a pilot.
When learning to fly, pilots are taught to utilize their gauges as a means for distinguishing reality. It is possible for a pilot to feel like they are flying horizontally in a low visibility situation. Yet, the plane could be somewhat vertical. An accurate picture of reality is only obtained by the pilot checking their gauges. The ability to correctly read their gauges enables the pilot to determine the difference between what they feel and what is real.
Leaders, like pilots, work to navigate followers from one destination to another safely. Leaders assess the flight path, current conditions and other risks that may cause them to change direction or speed. When faced with uncertainty, leaders can also find it necessary to assess their current position and direction correctly.
2020 has been a year of “low visibility” for many leaders, and disorientation can quickly occur as you continuously adapt to changing conditions.
If so, this may be an excellent time to check your gauges. You might consider one set of gauges for your organization and another for your relationships, or even a set for your health. Here are some “value add” questions to consider, which can help you determine the degree of value “in reality” you have added to your workplace and/or life.
Examples of organization value add questions may include: How have I added value to the organization for my stakeholders? How have I added value to the bottom line of my organization in 2020? How have I added value to the lives of my employees? In what ways has my organization added value to the community in which I reside?
The second set of gauges you might consider checking are various gauges within the relationships in your life. How have I added value to those who are closest to me? How have I added value to those who are far away? In what ways have I added value to the lives of my friends or co-workers?
Last but not least, here are some questions for your wellness. How have I added value to my physical, mental and emotional health? In what ways have I added value to my competence?
The sets of gauges and value add questions are endless. Through checking your gauges, you may be surprised to discover that what you feel is not real. Perhaps you will be encouraged as you identify ways in which you are adding value to that which is essential to you, even in difficult changing circumstances.
On the other hand, you may find that you are flying in a direction you never intended and may need to course-correct for 2021. Regardless of the gauges you choose to check, by choosing to fly by what is real, you stand a better chance of ensuring you arrive at the right destination.
Erik Dees is a partner with Milestone Leadership in Northwest Arkansas. He can be reached by phone at 319-504-3083. The opinions expressed are those of the author.