There’s a point just upriver from me called Ryan Point. To sailors on the river it can be a wind suck where you lose power, if you’re not paying attention. It’s harmless, just part of the river and local knowledge. All you have to do is stay powered up, or tack before you get into it, or drift because you want to. Or, you can remain ambivalent.
“There’s a leadership gap,” said the guy next to me on the plane. He’s been training companies for decades to rock their products and is noticing a vast leadership gap among the millennials. “They have positions and responsibility, but they don’t know how to lead”, he said, and it’s challenging his ability to train.
It strikes me a bit like Ryan Point. Not knowing how to lead is on the surface, harmless. But if you have the local knowledge, you can make a choice ahead of time of what to do with your boat. Drifting because you don’t have a choice and drifting because you chose it are two different things. Leadership comes from the latter, not the former, whether you’re leading your own life or the lives of others, or both.
Ambivalence is tricky that way. It seems neutral, unassuming, harmless. But it’s hypnotically choiceless. It gives nothing to lead by, to know yourself by. And that makes it powerless. Easy to drift.
Nature is never ambivalent. The sun isn’t ambivalent about whether it will rise or set today. The river isn’t ambivalent about the direction of the current. But we humans have the choice to drift. Or lead.
There’s a little power technique that’s easy to forget. It’s hidden (in plane sight) in what you don’t want. When you don’t know what you want, but you know what you don’t want, it’s a point of direction.
For example, I’m sailing and I don’t know which way I want to go upriver at the moment, but I know I don’t want to lose my wind at Ryan Point and I see a line of wind in the middle of the river. So I’m going to jibe right here and head across into the center of the river.
Voila, a choice, which leads to the next choice and the next. I may catch a fabulous line of wind in the middle of the river and that gives me more options for where I want to go next. It may give me wind that takes me all the way up river without having to jibe again.
Leadership didn’t die, in the man’s example above, just because a new generation came along. They may simply need a new spark that calls out what has been ambivalent within them, unaccessed. You may be that spark.
Sometimes you may need a new spark that calls out what has been ambivalent within you. Unaccessed. A reason to make a choice, get clear on something small that you don’t want, and head across the river where new wind awaits to power up your sails for new choices and your new adventures.
Here’s to more of you in this world,