Always and … Sometimes Or

Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison says sometimes we just have to get out of our own way.

Gary Burnison is CEO of Korn Ferry and the author of Take Control: The Career You Want, Where You Want.

“Uh-oh. You might be getting into some weather …”

I offered this innocuous observation—thumbing through the weather forecast on my phone—while talking recently to a client. She had just told me that she and her family were going camping.

“Oh, I think we’ll be okay,” she said.

“Hope so … Looks like there’s a 60% chance of rain where you’re going.”

You know that’s not all of it, right?”

She went on to explain that the weather percentage doesn’t indicate the chance of rain, but how much of the area will experience rainfall.

“So, there’s a 100% chance that 60% of the area will get rain,” she concluded.

I wondered to myself how I’ve never known this. Maybe I was absent from school that day. Or maybe it’s six of one, half dozen of the other—a distinction without a difference. Or maybe there’s a 40% chance of sun.

Let’s be honest—a conversation about the weather isn’t really about the weather. We’re less interested in atmospheric conditions and far more interested in seeking commonality, connecting, and, hopefully, creating community.

It’s a reminder that life and leadership are very rarely either/or… It’s about and.

Often, it’s too easy to get stuck in our own weather patterns. Maybe we should just get out of our own way. After all, it’s not about us, but it starts with us—and always about how we can change.

Admittedly, it can be tough to escape the narrowing walls of our own perspective. But my truth is not necessarily your experience. Our view may not be what others see. For some it’s a 50% chance of rain—for others it’s a pretty good chance of sun.

Ironically, perhaps, this brings me back to the donut shop in the small town where I spent most of my childhood. Back then, you couldn’t walk in the door without starting a five-minute discussion of the weather—even before you got to the counter. While there was no shortage of perspectives and different opinions, there was always plenty of community.

The message of this short missive? By going from either/or to and we meet people where they are, not where we are.