Taking a turn for the worse could be better than staying on the current path.
The expression “took a turn for the worse” implies bad news. But what if staying on the current path was not in your best interest?
Getting to our family cabin during the winter requires snowshoes or skis. When you arrive you have to shovel out the door, start a fire and make some hot chocolate. But sitting in the cabin is not the reason we go. Playing in the snow is the mission.
My kids favorite activity was sledding down the steep hillside road. On one trip, hearing their joy as they plummeted downhill was contagious. We only had three sleds and I have three boys. If I was going to experience a frosty acceleration I had to improvise. That’s when the proverbial light went on and I retrieved the canoe. The boys watched as their mom and I carried everything up the hill. We climbed in, pushed off and I used my paddle as a rudder to guide us down.
We picked up tremendous speed in a short period of time. The boys cheered as we flew past them. I was screaming in pure delight. This was better then an old sled!
Now, as you reach the bottom the road takes a hard right turn and levels off in front of the cabin. On approach I began to dig the paddle into the snow hoping to navigate the turn. We didn’t turn. Our momentum launched us straight off the road into a thicket of bushes and trees.
The canoe did not slow down. It pushed through the branches carving out an unexpected path. The front edge of that fiberglass projectile suddenly found an object that would not move out of the way - a fence post. I know what it means to come to a “dead stop.” Well, the canoe stopped. We continued forward and slammed into the front. A moment later we rolled out of the canoe breathless, dazed and bruised.
The boys were laughing in hysterics. The doctor laughed uncontrollably when she asked me to explain how my injuries occurred. It’s funny now, but I wasn’t laughing then.
Unexpected turns happen. You can count on it. The surprise of those experiences and the consequences are not always pleasant. However, most people will tell you that the “turn for the worse” made them stronger, more thankful, and closer to their family than before. The turn became the catalyst for a change of heart or a reality check of what is really important.
In business and leadership, getting caught up in our own success may divert us from the turns we really need to take. The momentum we’ve created could become our worst enemy. The current path might be a dead end. There are some turns we really should take. Here are some lessons I learned from my missed turn:
- Every idea is not always a great idea.
- Test your ideas and equipment before you launch.
- Take time to consider the dangers.
- Be prepared with an exit strategy.
- Surround yourself with people who won’t mock you.
- Some turns in the journey are to be desired.
- Learn to laugh at your mistakes and move on.
by Steven Iwersen, Keynote Speaker and Ambition Expert