Raising the level of your leadership

Quicksand Chicken

As boys growing up in SW Oklahoma, our only swimming holes were stock tanks, or the Red River. Most of the year and especially during summer, the river was just a dry, wide bed of sand, some of which was quicksand.

One of our summertime games was called quicksand chicken. The winner was whoever would sink the deepest before being pulled out by his buddies. Stupid? Not so much. Unlike in the movies where the quicksand swallows up entire wagon trains, it is usually only a couple of feet deep. So somewhere about the knees or thighs, we usually hit firm sand, and if we didn’t, the cry was “chicken, chicken, get me out of here.”

Life and leadership can often be like playing quicksand chicken. So a few good things to remember are:

  • Quicksand is often hidden under a hard, but thin, crust of sand. It doesn’t take much to break through and start sinking. So be careful where you walk.
  • Don’t carry extra weight into quicksand; the normal weight of life and leadership is heavy enough.
  • Until you know for sure whether it is quicksand or not, it’s a good thing to stay close to the river bank so you can grab something if you start to sink.
  • Don’t get in quicksand alone. Have a buddy who can help out if you start to sink.
  • If you get in quicksand, you will start to sink, but don’t panic. Not much good happens in life or leadership when panic sets in.
  • Don’t be stubborn and go under. Get help or get out.

Unless you are super-cautious and unadventurous, you are likely to get in quicksand at some point. So expect it and don’t be surprised. If you have a quicksand escape plan, you have a good chance of getting out before you are up to your neck in…well, quicksand.

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© Copyright 2013 by Dick Wells, The Hard lessons Company.

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