My new toy is a pole saw. Think of it as a small chain saw on the end of a long pole, used to trim tree branches.
After using it a bit and getting used to it, I found myself doing more with it- reaching higher, cutting thicker/heavier branches. To the point where I was standing near the top of an extension ladder with the pole saw in one hand raised high above me, cutting through a thick limb very high up. Then a thought crossed my mind- “What if this limb hits me on the way down or knocks the ladder out from under me?” I kept cutting…
In his book “How The Mighty Fall”, Jim Collins releases years worth of research he’s done on companies, like Zenith and RubberMaid, that were once mighty, then fell. But while reading it, I found it applies to individuals as much as large companies. Jim discovered that most companies who experience a catastrophic collapse follow a five-stage decline. Here are the first two:
- Hubris Born of Success, and
- Undisciplined Pursuit of More
First, you forget/ignore what reality is and who you are, believing instead something false (there’s the hubris). With that mindset of invincibility, you take on things/risk you shouldn’t (and the pursuit of more).
Back to me cutting that limb. About telling myself 3rd times that getting this limb was a dumb idea I finally stopped. (Yes, 3x. I have a hard head.) It finally was clear to me that this was over-reaching. Success with low, thin branches did not mean that I should go after everything I could possibly reach.
(conclusion next week; guess the tie-in with teaching)