You Can’t Fly

We live in amazing times. Never before have people had access to the amount of information available to us today.  We swim in it. The sheer immediacy of it surrounds us like a fog and you almost have to try to NOT let it envelope you.

And I love it.  I love the speed at which information, data, and news flow.

I see a tweet about a new book someone has recommended and in roughly 90 seconds I have looked up the book, checked out the reviews, ordered it, and downloaded it to my Kindle.

Missed your favorite TV show’s most recent episode? No problem, watch it on iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, etc and you can be catching up in about 5 minutes.

Think back to the time before iTunes or Amazon in which we had to go to a store and look for the book, CD, DVD, etc.

As a kid that often meant persuading my parents to take me when they had time.

I had to wait for it.  But having to wait is rare in today’s society.


“The advent of the digital age and the immediacy and convenience of digital video and photography allows people to become an integral part of the feedback loop which actively shapes the content we are fed.” Damien Loeb

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing today’s access to information. It’s great.  We’re able to communicate with our spouses and our kids from half a world away with minimal investment of time, money, or setup.

There are little to no barriers to learning; web sites like iTunes University, and YouTube can teach you things you never imagined you would know without serious investment of time, money, or energy.

Didn’t go to college?  No problem, now you can go online.

I bring all this up for a reason. This immediacy of information has allowed us to grow at a level far faster than that of generations previous.  People are thriving and gaining momentum in their careers through access to the information available to them via the web and elsewhere.

Therein lies the problem.


“The prevailing structures of personal reputation and career advancement mean the biggest rewards often follow the flashiest work, not the best.” Randy Schekman

Smart people don’t often have difficulty in being identified as such. With that recognition comes fast career advancement – which is typically a good thing.

The smartest, most competitive, and most aggressive grow fastest and in most corporations growth means taking on newer and greater responsibilities. More often than not this growth also means growing into a management role.

This may sound overly simplistic, but I will remind you this would entail being a “manager” or “leader” of people.  The problem is, these new managers have never learned to manage or to lead.  I’ve seen over and over again the after effects on entire departments (organizations even) with these new “untrained” leaders.

I think Dave Ramsey absolutely nailed it in EntreLeadership when he wrote: “You can’t fly.  I don’t care how many podcasts or CDs you listen to or how many goals you set or how positively you think… you can’t fly.”

Leaders expect their smart and disciplined workers will do what they have always done in their short careers: figure it out.

The problem is that leading and managing is something you don’t often have the luxury of attempting to figure out on the fly.  By the time the new manager figures out how to lead his staff of three, they promote them to leading a staff of six.  Or more.

By that time these newly minted managers start to believe the hype.

They start to embrace their willingness to learn on the fly and adapt. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with improvisation, I heartily embrace it, the problem lies with people who rely on it as a daily “get out of jail free card.”


Look around you at the people in your office or at your school.  How many of them have grown into a position in which they are wholly unqualified?

Were they in the right place at the right time to get the position?  Are you surrounded by leaders that don’t know how to lead?

Did they not have to wait for it?  Education of your staff is key, but have you skipped a few steps along the way?

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