In or Out?

In or Out? by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

The Philippine Sea is an outdoor lover’s paradise! You can snorkel, scuba dive, island hop (on banca boats), parasail, jet ski, paddleboard, surf, etc. But in order to enjoy these activities, you have to get off the sofa and IN the game.

There are plenty of “Monday morning quarterbacks” and other so-called experts who can, and will, question everything you do as a leader. They may critique without mercy, but they will never know the thrill of victory. The thrill of wind blowing in your face. The thrill of victory. The thrill of achieving a hard-fought battle. The thrill of achievement. The thrill of getting OUT of the boat. Each of us has a choice: In or Out?

Ever had a critic who has never been “out of the boat?” Let’s be honest, sometimes it wasn’t their fault. Sometimes circumstances, job responsibilities, etc. required them to stay IN the boat. I’m NOT saying that everyone has to be OUT of the boat all the time. What I am saying is that I don’t listen much to critics who haven’t been OUT of the boat, yet criticize my actions nonetheless.

I’m also saying that there are, at times, choices in life, in leadership, that each of us has to make. One is whether or not to stay IN the boat or get OUT. Staying IN seems safe, less risky, and more comfortable. Getting OUT seems more risky, a bit scary, and more uncertain. … Yet, history, research, and experience tells us that great leaders lead from the front. They’re OUT of the boat. They’re in-the-moment. They’re willing to take calculated risks. They’re not immune to being scared, but they CHOOSE to do the right thing: get OUT of the boat and lead from the front.

Great leaders come in many packages. They may be quiet, loud, short, tall, handsome, homely, male, female, young, old, etc. They have unique traits, personalities “types” and preferences. Yet, all the great leaders who positively impacted our world from ancient times until today, have led from the front. They’ve been OUT of the boat.

As I stared at the Philippine Sea and the beautiful sunset, I reflected on the choices: IN or OUT? … I had left the comfort of my hotel room and walked 10 minutes to watch the sun setting over the horizon. OUT. Was I rewarded? Yes! … I thought about two of my “kids” who had gone snorkeling earlier in the day for the first time (though both were a bit apprehensive). OUT. Were they rewarded? Yes!

Is getting OUT always rewarded? No – at least not on the surface. There have been many times when I’ve gotten OUT of the boat and been hurt. Being OUT is not always easy. But even when it wasn’t easy, even when I got hurt, it was the right decision.

The choice is YOURS. Are you staying IN the boat or getting OUT? Playing to win or not to lose? … The choice is yours, though if you want to be a great leader, you must get OUT.

How do you lead from the front? What motivates YOU to get OUT of the boat? Why do you think it matters?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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