- On March 4, 2014
I was really excited to see the start of the Iditarod race this past weekend. Maybe something about our recent ‘polar vortex’ conditions with another snowstorm on the way stirred in me a greater appreciation of the challenge of staying focused on goals, even with difficulties around every corner.
It also reminded me of a wonderful little leadership book my friend at Husky Power Dogsledding in western Maryland had loaned me– Be the Lead Dog: 7 Life Changing Lessons Taught by Sled Dogs, by Liz Parrish, a 2008 Iditarod finisher, and Barbara Schaefer. It is an insightful book filled with interesting stories that help bring greater awareness to your personal leadership.
I’m not a big dog person yet the synergy involved in dogsledding absolutely fascinates me. The dogs become an extension of the musher. They know where the musher is focused and respond accordingly.
One of the stories from the book has become my go-to image for regaining my focus when I am feeling overwhelmed with information and decisions. It’s the story of a training run which takes the sled along a highway for a short time. A logging truck is coming up the highway from behind the team. Although the musher’s gaze and her signals have not moved, her internal focus has shifted towards this new condition, the truck rumbling up from behind. The sled team intuitively responds by starting to veer where her attention is—right out into the path of the fast-moving logging truck. By consciously shifting her intention back to where she was heading, instead of allowing the reality of where she was to distract her, disaster was averted. The dogs moved back on path and continued a successful run.
The image of getting my sled back on track and being aware of, but not diverted by, competing information has helped me regain momentum on my work, communicate with clarity on my direction, and resolve misdirection before it starts.
What happens when you get sidetracked by distractions? How does your team respond when you lose focus? Like the sled team, even when we think we are keeping on message with our words and our actions, if our internal focus moves to something else the energy and direction moves too.
Be watchful for times in your day where your focus gets diverted from your main objective. What technique do you use to bring yourself back ‘on track’?