Sometimes problems can fix themselves. Let me show you how that happens. My friend Ed was nearly a year older than the rest of us. He had a driver’s license before any of us did, so Ed drove us everywhere. And we rode in style. He had his older brother’s hand-me-down car. It was a red 1972 Plymouth Duster.
Ed’s car had a lot of mechanical problems, but we didn’t care because it had a killer sound system—an 8-Track tape player bolted under the dash with two Pioneer Triax speakers mounted on the back deck.
Among the many mechanical problems, the speedometer didn’t work. It had been broken for a few months, and Ed had been putting off repairing it. Ed’s dad was constantly on him about fixing that speedometer, but Ed never seemed to get around to it. It had become a serious point of contention between Ed and his father.
Problem Solved One Saturday morning, we were headed to the lake, travelling about as fast as a 1972 Duster with an in-line six-cylinder engine could go. Of course, we had no way to know exactly how fast we were going, and weren’t paying much attention to the road either.
All of a sudden we came up to an old unguarded railroad crossing—the kind with a huge dip where the road railroad tracks cross the road. By the time we noticed the dip, there was nothing Ed could do. There was nothing any of us could do, except hang on.
Nearly Knocked Us Out The car hit the dip and bottomed out on those railroad tracks. As the car bottomed out, our heads hit the ceiling. Now there is one thing you need to know about cars made in 1972. There was no such thing as plastic parts for automobiles! That steel roof nearly knocked us all unconscious.
The car surged out of the dip, and nearly went airborne. Then it repeated the violent up and down action a half a dozen times until those old, worn out shocks finally got the car under control.
When the car finally leveled out, the most amazing thing happened: the speedometer came back to life! Ed couldn’t wait to get home and tell his dad what had just happened. And when he did, I was there to see it.
Ed walked up to his Dad and said, “You see, Dad, if you put something off long enough it will fix itself.” I will never forget the look on Ed’s dad’s face.
Leadership Is NOT Like That Leadership problems are not like the speedometer on a 1972 Plymouth Duster; they will not solve themselves. Solving problems as a leader requires action. Solving real-world problems requires us to actively make adjustments and changes. As leaders, we must pay attention to the areas that need improvement and seek out ways to grow and change to meet the challenges of everyday life. Change is hard; it takes committed people—committed leaders—to make real changes and improvements.
We are one month into the new year. What resolution did you make this year? Have your goals been met all by themselves?
What problem are you putting off in hopes that it will solve itself?
What challenge are you facing that requires your attention, your leadership, your action?
Don’t wait until you hit a major bump in your career. Get out there and take action before you are barreling towards a dip in the road and there’s nothing you can do but brace for impact.
Problems rarely solve themselves. Change is difficult; it will not happen without your guidance as a leader. Your leadership matters! Make sure you are prepared to face your leadership challenges by seeking out opportunities to take action and grow.