Image boarding a hot air balloon for your first flight. There’s a point of equilibrium where the combined weight in the basket (gondola) is equal to the effect of the helium which causes the balloon to rise. There are likely some sandbags (ballast) which are used to control buoyancy (affecting altitude) during flight. When the pilot wants to increase altitude, ballast is jettisoned from the gondola which reduces the gross weight of the balloon and allows it to ascend to a higher altitude. When the pilot wants to descend, helium is released from the envelope. The balloon will remain at a given altitude until there is another dynamic change in the lift equation.
Hot air balloon ascension is analogous to “breaking through inertia and status quo.” In the case of the balloon, ascension occurs by jettisoning ballast which then allows it to gain altitude. In the case of breaking though inertia and status quo, the same principle applies. Recall my recent post on Pareto’s 80/20 Principle, the 80% is similar to ballast in that we have to jettison it in order to ascend. Also recall the three levels of knowing 1) what we know 2) what we don’t know and 3) what we don’t know that we don’t know. What we know and don’t know constitutes only 20% of our knowing. The remaining 80% may be enabling our inertia and hindering going beyond the status quo. This is why seeking others perspectives and bringing our vulnerabilities (blind spots and weaknesses) into the light is so essential.
In the context of Invitational Leadership™, releasing “ballast” is essential to ascension and breaking through inertia and status quo. One of my favorite sayings is, “The first sale is to yourself.” The same applies to Invitational Leadership™. The first invitation must be extended to ourselves. If we don’t have confidence, character and competence, we will not be able to perform at our best or inspire the best in others. The ballast that we may need to jettison (Pareto’s 80%) and the helium (Pareto’s 20%) that is necessary to ascend or break through inertia and status quo applies here too. This also applies to those whom we lead. How might you help your employees, teams and organization to jettison ballast in order to break through inertia and “ascend” beyond status quo?
“Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop” – Peter Drucker
Tips and Practical Applications:
- What invitations are you extending to yourself? Among those you accept, how many are you committed to and actually taking action to achieve? What ballast would you need to jettison in order to gain altitude and break through inertia and status quo?
- What invitations are you extending to your employees, teams and organizations? Do you recognize the “power of the invitation” (e.g. recognizing the potential in others that they may not yet see in themselves)? How can you best support them in gaining altitude and breaking through inertia and status quo?
- Have you noticed that invitations can often have entailments that come with them? An invitation contains permission to attend; it is also a prohibition against arriving at the wrong time or on the wrong day. How can we create invitations that are mindful to both permissions and prohibitions?
If you’ve never experienced a hot air balloon flight, I highly recommend the experience. And, just as an aside, I am terrified of heights (acrophobia). I could not have felt more safe and secure upon ascent and the experience is one that I look forward to repeating in the future.
The Power of Invitational Leadership™,
The Impact of Emergent Innovations
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