A sad, but inevitable hazard of leadership is that you often find yourself in “The Pit.”
You may have fallen, or been pushed, but It’s a place of personal pain, heartache and confusion that is all too familiar to those in positions of responsibility. Some of the pain is self-inflicted, the rest is collateral damage from doing the work of leaders. The greatest wound of all comes from the betrayal of a close confidant, trusted staff or even a family member.
The journey out requires a request for help.
Sadly, leaders often struggle with the very act of asking for assistance. Somehow to ask for help implies a double fault, as though such action confirms the failure. It’s a no-win scenario that leaves many leaders trapped.
Those who are healthy (or desperate) enough to make the request, often turn to an expert, a consultant, a confidant, a mentor, who will help pull them out of the mire. But with a multitude of self-declared counselors, finding a trustworthy advisor can be a challenge.
Consider the story of a traveler who’s fallen into a hole.
As the victim struggles to get out, three people pass by and offer consultation.
The first advisor begins with a detailed explanation of why the failure occurred, pointing out every misstep and ending with a stern admonition to avoid duplicating such errors in the future. But of course, that does little to free the victim.
The second counselor rebukes the negativity of the first and offers a more positive solution. Shouting encouragement and affirmation from the edge of the precipice, he passionately exclaims, “You can do it, believe in yourself!” But still, the victim remains trapped.
The final co-traveler, upon hearing the request for help, jumps into the deep pit and joins the frustrated victim. “Oh no! Why did you jump in? Now we’re both down here!“ exclaims the helpless victim. “Don’t worry,” comes the reply, “I’ve been here before and I know the way out.”
Consultants come in many varieties. For the courageous leader who takes the step to get such help, choose wisely.