How to Walk a Crooked Line to Success


Determined leaders, who don’t change direction, end up in the wrong place. The down side of resolve, tenacity, and determination is refusing to learn and adapt as you go.

The path to the future is never a straight line.

If you can’t change direction you never get there.

You always zigzag to big goals.

Those who never change direction have perfect foreknowledge and wisdom or they’re perfectly in the dark.

The trouble with zigzagging is it feels like:

  1. Failure. You stay the course, even after conditions change, because changing course feels like you made a mistake. Wise leaders don’t make mistakes, do they?
  2. Weakness. People wonder if you have a backbone when you change course.
  3. Confusion. Don’t you know where to go and how to get there? Can’t you make up your mind?

7 Ways to Zigzag successfully:

  1. Focus on long-term targets. Define a zig in terms of long-term success. “This may feel like failure now but it produces better success later.”
  2. Constantly monitor team member success. Reassign or retrain lagers. The same people, doing the same things, in the same ways, year after year, assures stagnation and mediocrity. Make zigzagging normal.
  3. Create a taskforce not a committee. Assign people to short-term projects. When the task is done the taskforce dissolves.
  4. Solicit feedback, input, and suggestions before zigging. Adjustments go better when everyone participates.
  5. Acknowledge screw ups don’t hide them. It’s better to expose bad decisions than pretend they’re ok.
  6. Celebrate progress even if it isn’t perfect. Complaining never motivates over the long haul.
  7. Maximize lessons learned. Learning what’s not useful frees you to engage in what’s useful. Zags indicate growth and learning.

How can leaders zigzag successfully?

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