on leadership: dead reckoning

Sometimes circumstances require that you calculate your position using no information other than knowledge of your previous direction and distance traveled. Of course, this statement specifically refers to marine navigation, but it serves as a rather good metaphor for life and leadership.

Two years ago I became “Emily”, drawing courage only from deep confidence in who I was. In other words, I solidly built upon my “previous direction and distance traveled”. But I had no clue how things were to unfold, and the way they did unfold completely surprised me.

Leadership is often like this. Sure we try to acquire as much data and metrics as possible. We try to collect others’ narratives and experiences to guide us. But sometimes we must dead reckon: Sometimes we proceed with only our own internal reference points—our intuition—our knowledge of previous direction and distance traveled.

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