I recently attended the entrepreneurship conference, Unpolished, hosted at Crossroads Church. Crossroads’ pastor and author Brian Tome kicked off the conference with a story that is relevant for any leader running an organization. Brian told the story of a vacation he and his wife took to Costa Rica. As they gathered suggestions for their trip, several people recommended a hike up one particular volcano—that the view at the top would be the highlight of their trip. They eagerly booked a climb.
The day of the much-anticipated ascent arrived. The trek to the top was difficult and quite perilous. They methodically climbed, focused on the payoff waiting at the summit.
When they finally reached the peak however, a gorgeous view did not greet them. Rather, a swarm of bugs awaited—ready to cling to their faces, arms, and legs. The swarm was so thick, their view was obscured.
They quickly turned around and headed back to the volcano’s base, which was a valley.
It wasn’t until they safely returned to the valley that they noticed the vibrant green grass, beautiful flowers, and the sparkling stream. There was so much beauty in the valley that they hadn’t noticed at the start. Their focus was getting to the top. They were amazed at what they missed.
Their story resonated with me. At Centennial, we walk alongside organizations and individuals navigating the valleys presented by business every day.
3 Examples of “Missed Opportunity in the Valley” We See Every Day
- We lead business owners in succession planning. We have found that many of them are overly focused on “the end”: their retirement and all that comes with it. Those fixated on the end frequently miss all the good that comes before it: the satisfaction in knowing that the company is strengthening the local economy; the joy found in knowing that employees can support their families because of employment at the company; the pleasure in seeing employees learn new skills and grow because of their employment. These everyday occurrences are often perceived as “the grind:” routine, mundane and hardly noteworthy. That isn’t necessarily the case. There is much joy for yourself and others if viewed through a different lens.
- We counsel companies experiencing downturns, helping them identify talent gaps that could lead to organizational growth. Even during a tumultuous time like a downturn, there is good to be found. Teams often truly unite, yielding a much stronger organization in the long run. And, sometimes companies even re-invent themselves—and become more successful!
- We often interact with executives looking for their next opportunity. We encourage them to “enjoy this time,” which is often met with skepticism. What we mean by that is that during career transition, executives finally have possession of a very scarce commodity: time. If used strategically, that time will benefit the leader in the long run—through a re-kindled network, the opportunity to gain additional industry knowledge, even the opportunity to nurture family relationships.
It’s human nature to want to avoid life’s valleys–to instead “get to the top” and “enjoy the view.” Yet sometimes, there is a swarm of “bugs” waiting at the summit. Don’t miss the opportunities that were available in the valley.