A huge hurricane was pounding the Outer Banks of the eastern United States. A geologist, whose specialty was beaches and shorelines, was being interviewed.
The geologist had studied the Outer Banks for many years and was speaking fondly about their unique geological features. He was waiting for the storm to abate so he could get out and take a look at the hurricane’s impact.
The interviewer asked: “What do you expect to find when you go out there?” The interviewer assumed he would hear a response of demolished homes, felled trees, and an eroded shoreline. But that’s not what the geologist said —
“I expect,” he said calmly, “to find a new beach.”
— Adapted from a story in Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World by Margaret J. Wheatley.
“I expect to find a new beach.”
I find this geologist’s perspective fascinating and profound.
He is clearly viewing the destruction that will inevitably result from the hurricane as an act of creation. It will be a new beach.
Can you sense the acceptance inherent in that perspective?
He has already pivoted; his focus is no longer on what is, or on how what is will be changed. He is already seeing things differently, before he actually sees that things are different.
He’s looking forward, not back.
* * * * *
There is a leadership change coming in my organization. At the very top. It could very well have force and pressure, like a hurricane.
Within my organization, I am akin to the geologist. The geologist studies the solid and liquid matter that makes up the earth, and the forces that change it. With my OD expertise, I study the people and culture of my organization, and the dynamics at play that affect them.
Like the geologist, I know things will likely change. Things will likely be different with that leadership change at the very top.
I am trying very hard to look forward in the way that the geologist did.
I am trying very hard to simply expect to see a new beach.