There is always clarity above the fog. In the world of meteorology, fog is a collection of dense water particles that accumulates near the ground. The word fog can also be associated with a state of mind, one that leads to confusion and disorientation. Either way you look at it, fog makes it difficult to see and think clearly.
Recently, I was headed for my weekend hike at Kennesaw Mountain. As I drove towards the destination and was a couple miles out, I could see the tip of the mountain peeking through the dense fog surrounding the base. Once I arrived, I was in the midst of that fog. It was heavy and dense. I could barely see thirty yards in front of me, it would not be until I reached the peak that I found clear skies…the clarity above the fog.
There are conditions that generate fog in our leadership worlds too. The fog in a leader’s life consists of a dense collection of busyness, deadlines, distractions, and burnout. All factors culminating in the perfect storm that keeps minds running, leads to sleepless nights, and operating on an empty tank of gas. It’s a high-pressure leadership system that can cloud your vision, confuse, and disorientate.
When the fogginess sets in on our leadership worlds, here are four ways we can find clarity above the fog.
Even though there was fog at the base of the mountain, I knew I just had to push through to get to the summit where I could find the clarity. In this case, I knew it was there, all I had to do was keep pushing up the mountain to get to it. When I reached the top, I could still see the fog below me, but blue skies were with me.
Maybe not always the best solution, but a final surge to push through the fog of leadership can do the trick to obtain clarity. For me, I am task orientated, so arriving early or staying late with no interruptions occasionally can do the trick. Pushing through can develop the grit necessary to face the challenges leadership can throw our way. The best way to develop that grit is to just start putting one foot in front of the other until you get where you need to be.
Escape Reality and Create Space
Climbing the mountain is an escape for me. AirPods in, music or podcast on. I love to get to the top and peer out over the skyline It is such a refreshing feeling conquering the mountain and being able to sit in the stillness of space. The space allows me to think, pray, and reflect.
When I face foggy conditions in my world, I like to escape reality and create space. For me, it may be a climbing a mountain, a good book, a trout stream, a beach with rolling waves, a long nap, or camping next to an open fire in a remote area. Whatever your escape is, it can help lift the fog of leadership and life. It doesn’t always feel productive in the moment, but my greatest creativity, reflection, and recharging comes in space. Every leader needs space to get better, but to be better as well.
Remember the Why
I like the escape and space components of the mountain, but it is also good exercise. Staying healthy is a big why for me in hiking the mountain. The better physical condition I am in, the less stress I bear and the better I feel overall. I want to be healthy for the people I love. That’s a big why.
Jon Gordon tweeted, “We don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it.” This is leadership gold! The tasks pile up and our focus gets redirected inward, we become disorientated. Here is the thing, our why is not about us, it is about others. When we forget that perspective, we become selfish, versus selfless. Making it all about you can cloud your purpose, your why. When the fog sets in, remember the why behind what you do.
Relentlessly Pursue the Vision
I had some encouragement in the midst of the fog that morning. I had already seen further than anyone else on the mountain that morning. I had a unique Vantage Point that gave me the inspiration to relentlessly pursue the clarity at the top. The climb through the fog was well worth it with seeing the end goal in mind.
Vision in leadership is simply, the ability to see further. Not everyone has 20/20 vision in leadership. It is our responsibility to cast vision and lead the team to the destination. That destination could be the pinnacle of your profession or simply rebuilding an organizational culture. When we have the destination in mind, the fog tends to lift. It isn’t always easy, but we must relentlessly pursue the vision.
All of us have experienced foggy seasons in leadership. For those who haven’t, the fog can set in at any time, without notice. Leadership is hard, it’s not for the faint of heart. We carry many day-to-day burdens, personally and professionally.
Fog dims sunlight, but eventually sunlight wins out. Fog rarely exists in the presence of full sun, that is why you will find it hiding the dimness of morning and night. The sunlight reminds us of the promise that there is in fact clarity above the fog. Clarity is right on the other side of pushing through, creating space, remembering your why, and relentlessly pursuing your vision. The fog never lasts, keep on keeping on.