How to Stumble Forward with Boldness and Find Success
An infant watches others walk and learns that walking is possible. But success calls you to turn possibility into reality by stumbling forward.
Others may have stepped out already, but it’s still the unknown for everyone who hasn’t done it before. It feels like letting go and stumbling forward.
Some live life according to plan. In some ways I admire them. But I wonder how you can even imagine the possibilities until you’ve climbed the hill in front of you and spied new terrain?
Writing Leadership Freak began with stumbling. I had no idea what the heck I was doing. I’d never written anything beyond papers in school. Now I serve leaders all over the world. Stumbling forward changed my life.
An opportunity to stumble forward:
A college student approached me with an offer to start a Leadership Freak podcast. I’m stumbling forward with him.
He doesn’t know it, but he’s suggesting things I’ve rejected in the past. I don’t write about current events, for example. He thinks a current events segment on a podcast would be great. I’m stumbling forward.
Skillfully stumbling forward:
Stumbling forward only works if you know which direction is forward.
Don’t think of stumbling as unfocused wandering. Stumbling forward means you have an idea of where you’re going, but you’re not sure how to get there.
Passion clarifies what forward looks like. Does a podcast connect to my passion for leadership development? Yes. Then stumble on.
Reject perfection, but swing for the fence anyway. I hate the thought that stumbling might be an excuse for being halfhearted. Stumbling forward isn’t drifting. It’s stepping into something new with openness and gusto.
Confidence might begin with ‘I think I can.’ But success calls you to boldly stumble forward.
How might leaders incorporate some stumbling into their personal journey, team, or organization?
What input might you have for a Leadership Freak podcast?
Good luck with the podcast, Dan! I love the analogy of “stumbling forward” as sometimes I seem to “wander aimlessly!” with an end point in mind, but not certain the steps to get there. Thank you for sharing your leadership and insights.
Thanks Lisa. I think the stumbling part is the uncertainty that you mention. We have a good idea of where to go but some uncertainty about how to get there.
I’ll add that the view we have of the future also changes as we learn more.
I love your blog. It’s a great way to encourage a first step towards something new. Take the risk if it makes sense.
Thanks Tadas… best wishes
Cant wait to listen to the podcast
Podcast intriguing option Dan, go for it!
The stumbling becomes lifes lessons on finding our way to stand tall. Sure we all fall along the path, we pick ourselves up to be challenged another day if we are so blessed to see the next day.
Another great thought-provoker here! I get what you mean about this stumbling thing not being ‘drifting’, and it’s a useful distinction to make. Also, it takes time and experience to recognise that knowing the direction isn’t the same as actually moving step by step forward through the 3D reality of life – and to learn to walk we all have to do a bit of stumbling first. The bold will stumble with gusto; the more cautious will maybe feel their way initially, but still make that move forwards into the unknown in that ‘right direction’… About leaders and stumbling, one thought I have is that if leaders went into the ‘stretch zone’ of stumbling more often, they’d feel in their own being some of the insecurities they tend to induce in their staff. This might increase the empathy leaders have for the people who work for and with them. If it also helps leaders to recognise what is a ‘stretching challenge’ for their people that may involve a bit of stumbling here and there, and what is a challenge too far which could involve falling off a cliff (which isn’t advisable), all the better. Learning to stumble and have compassion for oneself may help one have patience with and compassion for others…
Enjoy the podcasting!
Hi Dan… Your posts are always inspiring. I love the way you put forward your thoughts with your own experience.. Thank you. And keep posting such inspiring articles. I love them.
As the saying goes, “If there’s a will there’s a way” 🙂
Thank you so much for this, Dan! I think confidence in your epistemology is what allows you to stumble forward without falling on the rocks – at least, that is what I hope as I stumble towards success in my own leadership goals (and studies). Best of luck on your endeavors, and thank you, again, for an insightful and inspiring post!
Thank you; I sent this to one of the teams I help. Sometimes people observe stumbling and judge it. “What do you mean, you don’t know when you’ll be walking!” Sometimes we internalize it. “I ought to be running by now!”
The podcast is an great opportunity for horizontal growth. I’m looking forward to listening in.
Stumbling forward works only if you get off your rear end.