I’m not sure if you know this, but next to Christmas, Halloween is the most expensive holiday in the calendar year. The average American spends more on Halloween than on any other holiday, save Christmas. This is my Halloween blog.
You are traveling through another dimension,
a dimension not only of sight and sound
but of mind.
A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.
Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!
Many of you recognize those words above as the introductory words to the television series The Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Zone as a television series ended when I was born: 1964. It had a nice five-year run starting in 1959. I’ve seen many of the old black and white reruns. It has become such a part of our culture that to this day, when something inexplicable happens, we talk about entering the twilight zone.
There were two times my life that I was sure I was entering the twilight zone. Imagine these real and apparently inexplicable scenarios:
The Glass: I’m sitting in a restaurant at the age of 13. Lunch is done and my dad has left to pay the bill. I’m alone at the table with my glass of water. My mind is elsewhere. Out of the corner of my eye, I think I notice my glass has moved. So I turn my attention to it, and stare it down, waiting for something to happen. Nothing happens. I get lost in my thoughts again. A few moments later, I think I see the glass move again. This time I’m totally committed to staring that glass down until something happens. To my absolute shock, as I’m staring at the glass it begins to move by itself across the table. It literally travels about two feet. I’m not making it up.
The Wastebasket: I’m sitting in my home office first thing in the morning just a few weeks ago. It is a regular discipline for me to start out my day in a quiet way. Next to my chair is my wastebasket. After sitting there for about 10 minutes, the top of my wastebasket, which has a swinging cover, begins to automatically swing by itself. I’m startled, and turn my attention to this impossible thing that is going on. It continues to swing by itself. Again, I’m not making it up.
In a moment I’m going to explain the inexplicable—what was going on in both of these instances. Sometimes great organizational leadership also seems inexplicable. The reality is that great organizational leadership does not just happen. It might seem to, but it does not; I promise. You don’t enter the twilight zone where things just happen by themselves. It is precisely because leadership is designed, and you are following your design to be a great leader, that you succeed.
It’s easy to look at successful leaders and think that somehow their successful organizational leadership just happened all by itself. Inexplicable! That rarely happens. That’s why LEAD 24/7 puts such emphasis on building great teams; creating clarity around purpose, vision, and values; and being a person worth following. Intentionally growing yourself in these areas even when that growth is not always comfortable is a far cry from an inexplicable, all-by-itself approach to leadership.
There is nothing spooky or superstitious or miraculous about great organizational leadership.
So here are the explanations about the glass and the wastebasket:
The Glass: The table at the restaurant was connected to the wall. On the other side of the wall a machine was turning on and off. That vibration was carried through the wall to the table. Every time the machine started up, that slight vibration and the slight angle of the table caused that glass to move “all by itself” across the table. I was not in the twilight zone!
The Wastebasket: I didn’t enter the twilight zone then either. Somehow in the middle of the night a small mouse decided that there must have been something good in that wastebasket. He managed to jump up, jump in, and get stuck. And then he decided he’d try to get out while I was sitting there, hitting the lid of the wastebasket and causing it to swing “all by itself.”
I hope you have a great Halloween season! And I hope these fun stories serve as a great reminder that leadership happens by design, not by delusion.