Recently a young little raccoon traversed the countryside to enter the Big City (St. Paul, MN) in hopes of conquering her 300 foot tall mountain of a challenge. Summit a skyscraper. People said it couldn’t be done. They said it was too tall. They said she was too young. Well, we think we actually have a few things to learn from little #mprraccoon when it comes to leadership.
The first is to Just Get Started.
Like the raccoon, she didn’t hesitate. She jumped in, without fretting over every detail of the ascent. We as leaders don’t always know what the outcome will be on the new thing we’re starting, so it makes us hesitant to just start. But sometimes simply taking that first step gives us the energy and momentum to keep going and do great things. It gets others excited about your vision, and gets them to join you in the cause. So take a cue from #mprraccoon – just get started!
The second lesson we can learn and simply acknowledge, is that people will try to keep you from your goal – intentionally or not.
When the raccoon was just one floor up from street level, people jumped in trying to get her down, not believing that she had a goal in mind. They thought they knew better. Sometimes we as leaders need to trust our instincts and keep on the path we’ve set out for, believing it is the best for us. The big picture may not make sense to everyone at the beginning, but that’s what sets leaders apart. We know that when we keep pushing, and have the right encouragement around us, great heights are possible.
The third take-away from the #mprraccoon is that it is never a simple, straight line to the end.
We often know this – in theory – but when it comes down to it, it can be a bumpy road to achieving the goal. We can plan the route to take, think through possible roadblocks, and have the brightest people helping us along the way, but whenever we embark on something new or different, difficulties are bound to come up. So then it becomes a matter of how we embrace those unexpected events. The raccoon absolutely faced difficulties scaling a smooth stone building in the middle of a busy city, perhaps not realizing just how long a journey it would be. So how did she face those trials? She chose the path that was right for her. She took breaks along the way to recharge. She didn’t give up. The difficulties didn’t cause her to turn around and undo all the progress she made. She saw it through to the end. And at the end, there was food waiting for her. What’s waiting at the end for us in our projects?
The fourth lesson is that people-from near and far-will unfortunately expect you to fail.
The raccoon quickly had a crowd watching her every move. She was scrutinized and judged. Why would she take on such a task? Doesn’t she know where she is, or what she’s doing? Of course she can’t make it successfully. We face those same doubts from others all the time. The trick is to not allow the criticism to take hold, and keep you from fulfilling your goal. Continue to remind yourself regularly of the good that will come when you reach the end, how good you will feel for seeing it through, and the confidence you will gain by trusting in the abilities of yourself and those around you. Find that one person who is your encourager and who knows you can do it, whatever the challenge is you’re faced with.
The fifth and final lesson we’re taking from the #mprraccoon today is that no matter the obstacle, there is always a way to succeed.
The raccoon didn’t give up, even when she felt like she couldn’t go on, or didn’t know what path to take. We could all take some of that determination and apply it to what we do. There may or may not always be people cheering you on, but if we continue to press on, there will be success in the end. It might not always look like exactly what we initially hoped – I’m sure the raccoon didn’t expect to find cat food and a live trap waiting for her on the roof of the building, but she made it, and she was rewarded in the end.
We realize this story is a little goofy, and we might be reaching a bit far for these lessons, but don’t we need to be open to continuous learning and taking encouragement, no matter the source? It’s part of what makes you as a leader brilliant. So next time you’re faced with a new challenge or new project, take a cue from #mprraccoon and press on.