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Oh Dear…

Optimize Blog - November 5, 2010 - 0 comments

So, there was Sarah Glidden, a sophomore cross country athlete for Hortonville High School competing in last Friday’s Division 1 cross country sectional at Wausau’s 9-Mile County Forest course.
In the latter stages of the girls’ 4,000-metre run she was thrown off course by a furry, four-legged speed bump. With a little more than 100 meters to go, a deer suddenly burst out from the woods and collided with Ms Glidden, hitting her in the legs.
Glidden, Hortonville’s No. 1 in her class, is a good runner and as a result of the collision was thrown off stride and partially spun around, but managed to maintain her balance and didn’t fall over. After quickly composing herself, Glidden continued on her way and so did the deer.
Glidden wasn’t injured, nor it appears was the deer and she went on to finish the race. Unfortunately she failed to qualify for the WIAA state meet, placing 18th overall.
Did the collision with the deer cost her a trip to the WIAA state meet? It’s hard to say, but it certainly didn’t help her sprint to the finish line. Her time of 15:55 was 17 seconds below what she ran a few weeks to ago in finishing second at the Bay Conference meet.
Glidden, though, wasn’t using it as an excuse. “I don’t know if it would have done anything to my results,” she said. She has handled it all with grace and a sense of humour adding “I think the whole thing is kind of funny, it’s weird, but it’s funny.”
One might think the incident could happen only in Wisconsin, but not so. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the first time that Hortonville cross country coach Kevin Sours has experienced a cross country runner-deer collision. “When I was coaching in Virginia, I was at the state meet years ago and it was the same kind of deal,” said Sours, who has 20-plus years of coaching experience. “A deer cut across and hit the lead girl runner.”
No word yet if the WIAA plans to place deer-crossing signs at 2011 cross country courses nor is there any proof that the deer belonged to one of the other runners…
Here at Zeitgeist we like to talk about the ‘facts of business life’ and one of those facts and indeed certainties is our ability to be side-swiped, T-boned or catapulted off course by the unexpected.
So in this instance what can we learn from Ms Glidden? Well, despite her plan being interrupted, she dusted herself off, got back on track and finished the race. How often in the business world where at times frankly things suck, do we get thrown a curve ball only to spend an inordinate amount of time complaining, feeling sorry for ourselves and wondering what we had done in a former life to deserve such misfortune?
The next time you get knocked off track by the unexpected, perhaps you too should demonstrate true leadership by accepting that it has happened. Until they invent time machines nothing can be done about it, so get yourself and your team back on track as soon as possible and continue with your race.
Crisis and the unexpected are perhaps the true test of our leadership capabilities. How good are you at keeping context and an even keel in such circumstances? Like Ms Glidden we should put these events down to experience and accept that the next deer may be just around the corner.

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