Monday, June 15, 2009

Help! I'm Stuck on the Escalator!

One of the most amazing places to observe and analyze human behavior is at the airport. This morning I traveled to a local airport to catch a flight to a client's site. I parked out in the remote lot where you can park for the incredibly low rate of just 12 dollars a day. I got out of my car, retrieved my bag, and walked by a shelter where several people were meekly waiting for the once in a blue moon shuttle to the main terminal. They stared at me as I walked by with a look that cried out "just where do you think you are going?" Unwilling to waste away 20 minutes of my life waiting on a shuttle, I was audacious enough (forgive me!) to walk the entire half mile to the terminal. For all I know they're still waiting for the shuttle to arrive and rescue them!

When I entered the terminal I witnessed a sight that strikes fear into the heart of every hard core traveler: A broken "up" escalator! To the right of the escalator the empty carpeted stairs yawned like a mouth mockingly laughing at my look of horror. To the left of the escalator I saw the line of unfortunate travelers, all waiting for the single elevator that could get them to their destination. Once again I committed the most audacious act...I slid the little t-handle back into my suitcase and (can you believe it?) picked it up off the floor and climbed the stairs all the way to ticketing.

All of this reminded me of one of my favorite commercials. I've taken the video and made a few minor modifications and titled it "Stuck on the Escalator: A Change Leadership Parable."
(I will also add a download able version to the files and links section of

If you have taken the time to watch this video, I must warn you of an unintended reaction you will have. Sometime in the next few days someone will be complaining to you about how "they" are making them miserable and how desperately they wish "someone" would do something about it... and you will think of this video and start laughing. You wont be able to help it. Don't be too hard on them, though, for this is unfortunately a typical helpless response to change in one's life and work.

It is with this inspiration that I will be focusing the next few blog entries on common barriers and obstacles to change. Many of these I have seen throughout my career in others, but many more I have battled in my own life as I have faced (and continue to face) significant changes. In the mean time, may you have the courage to walk instead of waiting for others to carry you and take the stairs instead of waiting for something to raise you up.

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