You have to drive through a small river to get to downtown.
This is what we realized when we visited a small fishing village turned popular American retirement spot, just north of Puerto Vallarta. A flood knocked out the bridge and so now you have to drive through a shallow 20 foot river that runs over the road. What probably started as the only option after the flood is now just a way of life.
This is how it works in our companies and in our own personal lives. We start doing something in a particular way, not usually because it’s the best option, but because it’s expedient. After some time, it just becomes part of the way things are done.
When someone new joins our team, they question why things are done in this way, just as tourists question why the village hasn’t fixed the bridge. But the questions only last for so long before they accept that it’s just “the way things are”.
We become blind to problems that have always existed for the very reason they have always existed. It’s a human frailty. This is why consultants can come into an organization and point out the most obvious thing as needing correction. It’s why we need new perspectives on our organization and our team from time to time. It’s why we benefit from the advice of a friend that helps you see that maybe your favorite T-shirt really isn’t the best thing for you to wear.
This is the essence of leadership – knowing that you can’t see it all and listening to those around you who can point out that maybe you need a bridge.