Help...I'm LOST

by Sherry Heuser

We’ve all been lost. It can happen at any time, at any age. It isn’t a good feeling—we become powerless, frustrated, scared, and even angry. How could this happen to me? What do I do now? This really will ruin my day.

Becoming “lost” can happen to organizations as well as individuals. Whether it is a program or a person, not knowing where you are now or where you are going is unsettling. Doubts, fears, and anxieties rise. Energy and effort is wasted while you spin helplessly.

Being “found” brings relief, comfort, and confidence. Actions work toward goals and progress is made. The route and destination are clear. Regaining your bearings feels good.

So, how can you move from “lost” to “found”? Some simple tips we often share with children can be applied to even the most complicated professional situations.

  • Take a deep breath—In a panic, organizational leaders cannot think clearly, their communication becomes stressed, and they aren’t able to take appropriate action. Remaining calm will give your team the ability to focus on resolving the situation
  • Find help—Look to your allies to help steer you. Ask for suggestions and directions. Pay attention to the world around you—signs, structures, and landmarks can tell you if you are on the right path.
  • Blaze a trail back home—Figure out how to get to a place where you have resources to support you and you are comfortable. Recognize your core and head for it; this is the best spot to be to restart your journey.
  • Reconsider your path and destination—Decide if the route you are following will get you where you want to go, and if the end point you had pursued before was really where you wanted to be. Take the time to plan a new goal or map out a new course.
  • Be aware of distractions—Sometimes, the destination was right and the path was good, but the organization was confused along the way by people or events, and may not have realized progress was stalled or that it became turned around. Assessing the situation may help you recognize that you weren’t really lost, you just had forgotten to continue moving forward.

The next time you are lost—perhaps worrying about a mission that seems to be sliding, frustrated about goals that feel unattainable, struggling to determine your next career step, or just needing help to regain your center of balance—make a path of breadcrumbs out of the woods and find your way again.

Bottom Line: Just because you are lost now, doesn’t mean you cannot be found.

Sherry Heuser is president of Capability Company Consulting, a Raleigh, N.C.-based firm supporting nonprofit organizations' searches for key hires.

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