Leadership Lessons from the Airport

June 11th, 2011 by Gallagher John 2 Comments

I get to spend a good bit of time inside of an airport.  If I am paying attention, there are leadership lessons to be learned throughout the confines of the miles of concourses, moving sidewalks, and ultra-uncomfortable waiting areas:

For the past couple months, I have been experiencing a sore shoulder.  Could be dragging the suitcase around for miles, could be the too-soft pillows in the hotels, but it has been a real ‘pain’.  I found myself with a few extra minutes this week after the red-eye and decided to take advantage of the spa treatment services in the airport.  When I go to the counter, I see a choice of “Swedish” or “Deep Tissue”.  In so many words, the girl at the front desk told me that meant “wimpy”, or “something that will hurt but you will actually feel better later”.  She was also challenging me in so many words, so I chose the ‘deep tissue’ shoulder massage.  That really was 10 minutes of ‘dis-comfort’.  However, today I awoke without the shoulder pain I have been experiencing over the past couple months.  So, what is the leadership lesson?

Too often, in leadership we are presented with 2 options – 1) the easy way – “swedish massage”, or 2) the right way – “deep tissue massage”.  Choose the easy way and you will feel better for a little bit, but likely, your problem will be even bigger in the future.  My friend, Kim Chaney, has referred to this as ‘peeing in a wet suit’.  Or, we can choose the arduous path.  The one that is more painful in the beginning, but likely solves the problem so it doesn’t happen again.

I know that I sometimes choose the easy way and, as a result, feel ‘chafed’ with the solution.  Yesterday, I chose the “something that will hurt but you will actually feel better later”, and, as a result, feel better today.

How do you manage this selection process in your life?

  • Kristen Kelly

    Great lesson John, and some wonderful analogies. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks, Kristen. Hard knocks make up some of those analogies!