I dream a lot. In a previous blog I wrote about walking through a maze, being followed by hungry wolves.
In my latest dream I was CEO of a company (It was a nightmare, not wishful thinking) and I was taking a casual walk with my pack of loyal canines on a loose leash. The individual pack members closely resembled persons I recognized as my department managers, my management team. While casually walking we saw a forest in the distance. It was a scary large, dark forest by the looks of it, with lots of unseen creatures lurking in the shadows. Rather than walking towards the forest intentionally, the forest seemed to come to us unavoidably. The forest clearly was a crisis heading our way, and unintentionally but also subconsciously, we entered the forest and started walking the ever-narrowing path ahead of us. My pack of disciplined, well behaved pedigree dogs – the guys in my management team – were getting anxious, by the perceived threats looming in the dark just beyond eyesight – and grasp for that matter. They were starting to bark, louder and louder. Barking up random trees, pulling on their leashes in haphazard directions.
Because of this new, unplanned and unfamiliar environment we found ourselves in and the perceived threats all around us, every dog started to respond in his own way. Some barking up trees, some running backwards, others dashing forward or crouching behind trees. Some dogs froze while others defecated spontaneously. Some old dogs remained calm and just followed the path that they were following like they always do. My otherwise experienced and coherent pack of dogs had just transformed in a chaotic, barking and snapping-in-every-direction mayhem of fur and fangs. I tried to control them by pulling on their leashes. Some dogs responded and stood by my side, while others pulled their leashes loose and either started running around on their own, or fled into the woods and started barking back at me with their fangs exposed and neck hairs raised. We produced a lot of turmoil, inadvertently attracting more creatures of the forest, curiously peaking at our group in predicament from a safe distance, vividly catting to each other from their elevated tree branches.
The trees however were not impressed with the vocal crescendo that my group of canines was producing, and did not move aside. The shadows remained, and the spooky creatures in the gloom and on the branches did not flee their forest. Our position did not improve, despite the best efforts of my poor 4-legged friends.
After fervently trying to chase our crisis away in an energetic but uncontrolled way for hours with limited results, my pack of heroic guards started to get tired. Every time we approached the edge of the forest or found a clearing, new trees quickly sprang up, further limiting our view to the exit. While some of the dogs sat down panting in the midst of the forest, others ran off and disappeared and some fled into the forest, turned and started to bark back at the remains of our group – getting smaller as we continued. Eventually, we got used to living in the forest and got accustomed to the permanent state of its presence. We sheepishly accepted our new environment and gave up fighting, and started dwelling with the evil creatures around us, sharing our uncomfortable new home with a considerably smaller pack than we entered the forest with so long ago.
I wish I had trained the guardians of my company. Showed them what a forest is like before entering it unwillingly. Showed them how to follow a path without being distracted by the birds and creatures around them. Use the snifferdogs to sniff out the creatures in the gloom. Use the sledge dogs to pull, the rescue dogs to rescue and the guard dogs to bark. Train them to stand by each other and hold their ground despite the difference in individual competences, instead of running around barking up random trees. Use every member of the pack in what he’s best at, but now in a new unknown environment. Give them purpose to find the exit (instead of running around hoping to stumble upon one), and the means to get there.
And after all, it’s just a forest. Other people have been here before us and have found the exit. Don’t make the same mistake I did in my dream. Let these people tell you where the exit is, and show your pack how to find it on their own.