What Leaders Can Learn From Playing in the Sand

I recently took my nine year old grandson on a road trip that included a visit to the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. My idea was to show him the wonder of this amazing site. But when we arrived at the first set of dunes he chose to play in the sand rather than climb further. So I went up a little way to be still and to absorb the peace and grandeur for myself.

I kept an eye on my grandsonGreat Sand Dunes NP and saw that he was in the moment of playing in the sand and rolling down the dune. A leadership image came to mind as I watched. How often as leaders do we have a grand vision of what we want to accomplish and just assume that others will get it and follow along? And yet there are those followers who prefer to play in the sand. It’s what they do best. Just as astute leaders take time to be present and listen to those who work for them, I decided to join in his play.

It was then that I gained another perspective. As he dug down in the sand he kept exclaiming excitedly, “Look it’s moist!” As leaders, when we let others “play in the sand” they make discoveries that we would never have seen because we are fixed on the grander vision. Those discoveries can often bring new insight and expand our visions. And don’t assume followers won’t get the vision. The next day he said, “The Sand Dunes is a special place!”

So follow your vision but sometimes play in the sand with others to gain their perspective. Be prepared for new insights. You may be surprised!

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About Dr. Ethan Raath

Highwire Leadership - Owner/Consultant www.highwireleadership.com
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One Response to What Leaders Can Learn From Playing in the Sand

  1. Sometimes I have found that if you start playing in the sand, then the person you’re with will then look around and see the big picture. It may be unrelated, but sometimes when I’m in a meeting with someone who starts playing with their phone, I’ll start playing with mine. Usually, the person will stop and look up (and I’ll follow suit).

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