Monthly Archives: September 2011

Blazing a Trail in Leadership and Life Part 3

From WikiHow:

Plan the width of the trail.







What, specifically, are you trying to carve out?

Perhaps you are choosing a personal trail – making a change in your own life. Your trail will probably be narrow. If you are blazing this trail in an organization it will be wider. How wide? Are you leading a small unit or are you creating broader organizational change? Are you hoping for a few early adopters or do you need total buy-in? Will you need to create a trail that can be widened as more people follow the new path?

Will your trail be direct or meandering? Will it be quick and dirty or planned and beautifully executed? WikiHow does not address this. Still, it figures into your decision on how you will blaze your trail. A direct path might suggest the straightest, shortest path – no frills, not necessarily neat and tidy. This may be driven by a sense of urgency or immediacy. Leaders must sometimes forge ahead, cut through the underbrush and get somewhere quickly. As more people adopt the change, there will be opportunities to tidy up the borders or pave the trail. There’s a place for this sort of “ready, fire, aim!” sort of trailblazing.

Some trails are blazed after considerable planning and preparation. In your personal life this might be a career change or moving into a committed relationship or parenting. These trails may involve much more planning. They may be meandering, taking the scenery (your surroundings, preferences, lifestyle) into account. These trails may be more beautiful, well paved, free of any potential hazards. What do you want to consider as you initiate major life changes?

As a leader in an organization, you will also do a lot of planning for major changes. Will you blaze this trail all at once or in incremental stages? Will you pave the trail to make the transition as easy as possible? Will you offer rest stops and enticements along the way to facilitate movement along the new trail?

What will your trail look like?

Blazing a Trail in Leadership and Life Part 2

From WikiHow:
1. Assess the density and type of foliage the area has growing and equip yourself with the stuff from the “Things You’ll Need” accordingly.


The first thing that it makes sense to do before initiating any change (blazing a trail) – whether in your business or yourself – is to do an environmental scan. That means looking at the situation from every angle to determine what exists and analyzing the current situation in terms of your desired outcome. I this step, you are dealing with the broad issue o wanting a change. In a later step, you will have the opportunity to get specific about the change.

These questions can be asked What’s going on in your life or workplace? Too much? Dense foliage. Not enough? Sparse. These answers relate to the degree of change desired as well as the challenges inherent. If you or the organization are reluctant to change, you have a dense foliage situation and can expect that the process will take some time. If you are an early adopter, the foliage is sparse and initiating change will be easy. When facing sparse foliage, though, you may want to take the extra step to be sure that this is really where you want a new trail. Is this a desirable, supportable change or are you changing for the sake of change?

Will you be dealing with tall weeds and grasses or thorny bushes and trees? Before initiating a change it will be useful to know the degree of difficulty. And the tools required. Trees and thorny bushes will require heavier tools and thick gloves. Don’t be fooled by the tall grass, though. As in the wild, in life there can be surprises in the tall grass. Know that you may be brought up short as you blaze this trail and be prepared with an array of tools – coaching, communication skills, research skills – to move forward.

What types of things keep increasing in your life or organization? Decreasing? Are these the things you want? What activities are you involved in? Are these the ones you want? These questions relate to the nature of the trail you will blaze and the ultimate destination.

Look to the future. What are the benefits of this trail? How will the change serve you or your organization? You’ll want this information when we move on to determining the size of the trail.

Blazing a Trail in Leadership and Life

Linda Cureton, (her blog is here) CIO for NASA, was one of the wonderful speakers at Womensphere. Her subject was change and, being a self-described info-geek, she went to Wikihow to find out how to blaze a trail. Her comments were based on the following WikiHow article:

1. Assess the density and type of foliage the area has growing and equip yourself with the stuff from the “Things You’ll Need” accordingly.
2. Plan the width of the trail.
If it’s a private trail, it only has to be about a foot (30 cm) to a foot and a half (46 cm) wide, just enough for a single file line of people to go through.
If It’s going to be a public trail, make it wide enough for four hikers abreast.
3. Plan the direction of the trail. Check to see if any unmovable obstacles, such as fences, boulders, large trees, or streams will disrupt things.
4. Cut down or flatten all trees and bushes to make the path. Leave some plants growing at the entrances if you want to make it a hidden trail.
5. Clean up the dead bushes. Remove and rocks that could trip people.


Watch out for poisonous plants and animals and thorny bushes.
Trails disrupt nature.
Nature preserves are government property.

Things You’ll Need

Hedge Clippers (for smaller bush)
Ax or Saw (for trees)
Shovel (to remove medium sized rocks and roots)

It was a wonderful presentation. Anyone who leads in an organization or carries out a change in their own life can succeed by following these simple steps. How? Stay tuned for my take on this over the next few posts here and on Expanding Your Comfort Zone.

Random Blogs to Check Out

OK. It wasn’t my intention to read blogs this morning, but while looking for an event to tell you about – and finding out it doesn’t actually happen until March – I got caught up in my own bookmarks and rediscovered The Lazy Way to Success. It’s a quirky take on accomplishing more by doing less.

This led me to check out Orange Herbert, who is featured on the sidebar and from there the homepage of the Offenburger‘s mixed bag of opinions, slide shows, guest posts, and their own journey through cancer. Worth a stop.

I then meandered over to see what Nancy Colasurdo was up to an found that she had posted an interesting quote:

The person who never makes a mistake and always manages to obey the rules is often a compassionless person, because he sees people for whom the wheels have fallen off and he wonders what’s wrong with them. But the person who feels that he has ruined his life often has more capacity for humility and compassion.

What are you reading?



Maximize … Don’t Compromise

A card from the business game Gold of the Desert Kings reads,

Maximize … don’t compromise. There’s a big difference between playing to win and playing not to lose!

I think about risk often. And I think about ambition and winning and losing. Is there nothing in between those extremes? It sounds like that middle ground is compromise and that compromise is never a good thing.

Then I reread the card and realize this is a comment about attitude. Compromise is not the middle ground. Mutually beneficial is.  Play big or don’t play at all. Be overly enthusiastic, overly generous, overly helpful, overly productive and enjoy every minute of it.

The Cafe is Open – See What’s Brewing Now

Well, it’s certainly been an interesting year. I’ve been heavily involved in executive coaching with a major New York City agency and working on Blueprints, a series of workbooks to help women plan their ideal lives and it just didn’t seem I had much else to say.

Natalie Tucker Miller and I have been posting regularly on our joint blog, Expanding Your Comfort Zone, where we focus on stretching yourself without fear as the way to change. Still, there’s this whole area of life and work that doesn’t always fit into the growth and change framework – so the Cafe is back.

You can expect to find an eclectic assortment of tidbits here – random thoughts, the occasional book review, recommended events, places to visit, conferences and events.

Pull up a chair relax, and feel free to speak up!