course corrections

EmPulse for Week of July 12, 2010

course corrections

Navigating the twists & turns of everyday life often involves some minor adaptations we call course corrections. These are mere practice lessions for the major course corrections we will have to negotiate when our lives sail through rougher seas. Going off to school, becoming responsible for our own lives, getting married, getting divorced, starting a family, losing a job, being fired, losing our parents, burying a child, a wife, a husband— none of these events are simple matters to endure; some are painful, some, oddly exciting. Any one of these experiences will bring on the occasion for a major course correction. This will be the time when our true metal will be tested and refined.

How we negotiate a course correction will determine, to a large degree, who we become on the other side of the circumstances. Not all of us handle change very well. A worst-case scenario occurs when we stand by idly and wait to see what happens. We simply relinquish any control and responsibility we might have to influence the outcome of a situation. Just short of this kind of passivity is the position of avoidance— we avoid facing a course correction by sticking to our guns and maintaining the original course direction we set, even though it leads us into catastrophic wreckage. We need to pay attention to that funny little voice in the back of our head sometime; and we should carefully consider the insights of close friends who know us well.

Course corrections always demand that we change. Whether it be a shift in corporate ethos, personal perception, or team realignment, course corrections acknowledge changes in societal wind direction that demand we steer our course on another heading. On a corporate level, this will mean uprooting offices, families, relationship networks…, the whole kit & caboodle. On an individual scale it may mean admitting that you just might have been wrong about some cherished traditions or practices that are no longer appropriate on this new bearing. It may mean it’s time to learn a different perspective on things.

Advice on Navigating Life’s Course Corrections

1.       Establish a set of core values which are non-negotiable, which are central to any course correction. How will this course corrections challenge my/our core values?

2.       Ponder the implications of a course correction. What will I gain? What will I lose? What will I have to let go of? How big a risk is this new direction?

3.       Run a potential problem analysis (thank you Charles Kepner & Ben Tregoe) on each course of direction.

a.       What might go wrong if we stay the original course?

b.       What might go wrong if we change bearings and set a new course direction?

4.       Find a set of friends with different perspectives than your own and have them play “devil’s advocate” with you.

5.       Think through things. Stop thinking. Put everything up on a shelf for a week. Look at it again.

6.       Pray…, but listen, too. You really need to listen for the input of the God who made you.

Course corrections are a part of life; get used to them. Do not try to circumnavigate them; the earth is flat, it has boundaries, and you will fall off if you sail too far off course. Better to settle on a new bearing and take the helm on the new course correction.

Have a nice week.


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