Leap Day. Leap Year. Leap.

Yesterday was a bonus…and extra day for us all in 2008.  “Leap Day”.  Heck, its Leap Year!  The common explanation of leap year is that leap year occurs every four years to help synchronize the calendar year with the solar year, or the length of time it takes the earth to complete its orbit about the sun, which is about 365¼ days. Thus, we add February 29th every 4 years.  Leap Day.  Leap Year. So what? 

I love the word “leap”.  It conjures up old memories as an 8 year old athletic-explorer leaping across the swamp as I tried to catch frogs and newer memories of breakthrough results delivered with my team at a large manufacturing plant.  And since it is just about time for March Madness, we are reminded of one of the greatest leaps of all time: #23 Michael Jordan launching from behind the foul line in an astounding feat of grace and athleticism punctuated by a tongue-exposed slam dunk. Yeah!  Now that is a leap! 

Back to you, awesome leader.  How do you leap?  Describe the last time you took a flying leap? (Sorry, I could not resist).  Many of you may be engaged in “lean” initiatives at your workplace.  Perhaps you are busy embracing your “continuous improvement” selves.  Don’t get me wrong, I see value in the Toyota Way.  I have executed many a kaizen and 5S project with measured results.  But I am talking leap here.  Leap according to the dictionary: To spring or bound upward from or as if from the ground; jump.  Sue’s definition: to boldly launch with zest into the unknown.  Yeah!  Now that is a leap! 

What are others saying about leap?  Check out Steve Farber.  In his modern parable, Radical Leap, Farber beckons us to exude extreme leadership and make a radical leap by taking these 4 actions: Cultivate Love, Generate Energy, Inspire Audacity, Provide Proof.  Got love in your work place?  Audacity?  Now those are leaping words! 

Vince Poscente wrote a thought-provoking book, The Age of Speed, that offers counterintuitive views of the speed of life, work and technology.  According to Poscente, we must use speed to our advantage to deliver extraordinary results.  Seems he likes the word leap as well:“To do things faster, we have to do things faster- we have to act, we have to jump. This requires a stomach for risk, because with change and progress comes a chance of failure….granted there are some risks we avoid because they just aren’t smart…But there are other risks we steer clear of solely because they pull us out of our safety zones.  Those are the risks we need to examine more closely: is it smart decision making, or just a lack of courage that keeps us from going down those paths?  Consider some of the risks you could take in your life that might help you reach your goals faster.  What is keeping you from taking the leap?”  Hint: stop and craft your authentic answer here. 

No conversation about radical leaping is complete without a short clip from the genius of Tom Peters. In Reimagine (one of my very favorite books), Tom alludes to Olympic-level leaping in one of his fantastic “was-is” contrasts: “be ahead of the pack  >  be ahead of the curve”  Is = leap way out in front.  Way out.  In fierce, passionate Tom language: “The point is not to “push the envelope” or to “think outside the box.  The point is…to rip up the envelope and to burn the box.”  Matches anyone?

Kevin Eikenberry inspired me to take a bold leap several weeks ago.  In our series of blog and live exchanges the questions surfaced: Sue speak: What bold thing will you do this week?  Kevin-ized volley: What remarkable thing will you do this week?  Leap.  Leap.  Thank you, Kevin. 

Seems questions can spark leaps…so I will end with one here and ask you to tell us all what is on your mind.

What one leap could you take today that would make all of the difference? 

5 Responses to “Leap Day. Leap Year. Leap.”

  1. David Speer Says:

    Sue,

    That was great. I think the current economy is a kick in the pants to make that leap as well. I know I’m starting a lot of new initiatives to get my clients excited. Make a big leap or sink in the quagmire…

  2. Kevin Eikenberry Says:

    Sue – thanks for the comment – people might want to read what I wrote bout Leap Day as well – http://www.kevineikenberry.com/blogs/2008/02/happy-february-29th.asp.

    Great post!

    Kevin Eikenberry

  3. Sandra Koelle-Stewart Says:

    Sue, inspiring thoughts! (as usual). I tried on a few answers to your bold question. I always felt an internal resistance to taking a leap … “I should say I’m sorry” (but wait, I’m not ready to give up the fight yet)…”I should prepare myself for a fierce conversation around The Decision Tree concept” (but wait, I’ve got these three other projects that demand my time) … “I should write that application letter” (but wait, I told myself that summer was a better time).
    Wow, this makes me want to take a nap to help make things clearer (but wait, the sun is shining, shouldn’t I be out running a few miles in it?).

    It seems that the first thing we have to do is break down the walls of resistance that help to keep us contained…sometimes for good reason, sometimes to our own detriment.

    I’m often reminded of the phrase “Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.” So to help break down the walls, I’m going to ask myself the Zen question: “When you can do nothing, what can you do?” There is nothing wrong with sitting with a decision as if you’ve made it, as if you’ve taken that leap, and visualizing the impact.

    I’m packing my parachute!

  4. patrice Says:

    I’m working on stepping out (leaping out?), and not fearing it. I’m working on valuing the process – being present, and reminding myself to not overvalue the outcome. It’s the learning that helps me take the next step. The going through it, that gives me the greatest gifts – not the place I arrive. It’s not about going heaven; it’s about heaven in the here and now.

    So in my position on point, I strive to be engaged, focused and attentive, while practicing the art of facilitation. Let me hone the skills to pull everyone out further than they knew they could go, further than comfort, and inspire them push it beyond. This, this feels like a big leap for someone hiding in the cubical farm.

  5. terri Says:

    Oblivious to the fact that it was Leap Day ’08, I happened upon the following line:
    “Leap and the net will appear.”
    -Julia Cameraon

    How perfect is that?
    -t

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