Rollercoasters and Rockets

You know that feeling when you’ve plucked up the courage to take the plunge and go for a ride on the rollercoaster. You’re a little excited, anxious, scared, worried, but ultimately full of anticipation for the ride. You might think about the risks and ask yourself is it dangerous, will I get hurt or will it make me sick? Yet, you still climb aboard. The ride starts and your are hopeful and excited, as it slowly creeps to the top of the first ledge and you know what’s coming next. Then it happens and you whizz back down at a great speed and your stomach leaps and jumps around and as soon as you are down you fly right back up and do it all again, looping the loop, rising up and falling right back down again, but then it slows down and ends at a steady rate and you calmly get off, albeit with wobbly legs, but a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction wanting to do it all over again.

When people say “life is a rollercoaster”, it really is. Work and projects are the same.

The trick has got to be how to make the work rollercoaster ride a joyful and positive experience rather than a terrifying nightmare ride.

If your work rollercoaster ride is dangerous and scary, then at some point you have to accept you need to try a different ride something more gentle and predictable like the merry-go-round or thunder mountain (for the Disney fans). You physically cannot keep riding the rough ride repeatedly.

In my opinion, the work rollercoaster journey is driven by the culture and leadership style.

I’ve seen a great response from my team this week on how positive, encouraging and supportive leadership has brought an energy and buzz. It has been truly amazing to be part of this journey. This has been a perfect example of creating the right culture and bringing out the passion and drive from everyone, tapping into the strengths of each individual and creating synergy.

We Do Things Because They Are Difficult

I was incredibly lucky to witness a live rocket launch a couple of years ago when I visited the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Truly one of the best experiences of my geeky life. One of the biggest take aways from the tour of the space centre was listening to a video display of the JFK speech when he spoke about the Apollo missions where he said “We don’t do things because they are easy, we do them because they are hard”. That resonated with me so much. The work we were doing at the time had us reaching for and discovering new frontiers and new worlds of technology. And yes, it wasn’t easy, if it was then someone would have already done it. We were doing it and it was hard. But, we have some incredibly talented, passionate and clever people and they did it. Then they did it again and again and are still going. Still solving problems that are not easy.

IT and innovation is often an unknown. We know that there are problems that need solving and we know we can solve them (eventually). Sometimes it takes longer than we thought or we hit issues we couldn’t have planned or anticipated. How we act as leaders and how we drive our teams to deal with these new frontiers, unknowns and complex problems and the culture and environment we create and foster for them are so important. Do we take our team on the exciting and exhilarating rollercoasters or the fearful, terrifying and sickening rides. As leaders that is our responsibility to make sure that we always build our version of Disneyland or Kennedy Space Centre so that our people can leave happy having learned something, dealt with the challenges and had a good happy time in the process.

When we are forced or force our teams to take the scary nightmare ride, it makes us sick and we and will want to to get off and buy another ticket for the exhilarating ride. Hopefully we can find one of those tickets … if not, there’s always stub hub 😊