Have you ever driven a car with terrible alignment? Even on a perfectly straight highway, the vehicle will drift into a ditch unless the driver constantly compensates for its misalignment. As part of normal driving, the springs in a car’s suspension system gradually stretch out, and the vehicle’s highly calibrated internal components get knocked off-kilter. For this reason, vehicles must occasionally be taken to a mechanic for realignment.
Something similar happens to us as leaders. The daily grind of life takes its toll. We get stretched thin, grow weary, and lose our work/life balance. Unless we pause regularly to realign our lives with our vision and values, we gradually stray off course.
Misaligned Leaders Wear Out Faster
When a car is out of alignment, it puts increased pressure on the tires. The wheels are at the wrong angle to the ground, causing the tire tread to wear down abnormally fast. In like manner, leaders who have gone too long without alignment suffer diminished durability. Having lost sight of their vision, they trudge through life without enthusiasm and energy. They desperately need to spend time dreaming about their future goals in order to revitalize their spirits.
Misaligned Leaders Fall Short of Their Potential
As a car cruises down the road its tires produce friction as they roll over the pavement. Misaligned tires make extra contact with the roadway, increasing the amount of friction and placing added strain on the car’s engine. Since the engine has to work harder, it uses up fuel more quickly and thereby reduces the gas mileage of the vehicle.
Similarly, misaligned leaders do not operate at their peak potential. Without the guidance of vision and values, leaders work inefficiently. The fail to prioritize intelligently and expend extra time and resources as a result.
Misaligned Leaders Maneuver Poorly
Improper alignment negatively affects a car’s handling capabilities. A misaligned vehicle will pull to the right or left instead of heading straight down the road. Unless leaders take time to make sure their actions align with their values, they will eventually violate their deeply held beliefs. They will spend life chasing what looks like success without actually pausing to consider whether it actually will give them the satisfaction and fulfillment they desire.
Thought to Ponder
No one intends to end up lonely, in debt, physically unfit, or perpetually on the verge of burnout. However, somewhere along life’s journey many people quit aligning their lives with their vision and values. They put their lives on autopilot and fail to notice that with each passing day they are inching closer and closer to a ditch.
As 2014 kicks off, carve out some time to think through your vision for the future. Consider whether your present direction is taking you toward it. In addition, think through what you hold dear in life. What changes might you need to make to your lifestyle in order to honor your deepest values?