See what I see, hear what I hear, feel what I feel…

Then maybe you’ll understand why I do what I do…

Until then, don’t judge me.

– Anonymous

I’ve always liked this quote because it makes me realize I need a new perspective, more empathy and more compassion for others… Until a recent event made me think differently.

My family and I went for a two mile hike through a beautiful waterfall. My youngest daughter asked to hike in my old hiking shoes that I had worn while trekking Appalachia long-trails. I said “sure,” but somehow forgot that they were worn out inside.

After we saw our beautiful waterfall, we started walking back and the rain started. My daughter then discovered that the hard soul of the hiking boot was coming off at the heel. We had to rip it off so she would not trip on the wet trail.

I thought to myself: “what is it really like to walk in my shoes?

The hiking shoes were too big for her and worn out enough that they fell apart, but they still looked good on the outside. I realized that my style of walking had worn the shoe in ways that were unique to me – something I could handle (even if it hurt). But I did not want my daughter to get hurt; I wanted to protect her and make sure she was safe.

I’m also vested in seeing her develop her own skills to navigate her own path, even when it may be unsafe. I want all my children to know their own strengths, develop their own stride and pace so they can experience life to its fullest.

What do your most worn shoes say about you? Are you willing to let others try them on?

This is relevant for leaders as they develop those around them to potentially take over their position or cause someday. In order for them to be prepared, we need to let them really experience what it is like to experience the work, the challenges, and the rewards.

All too often we don’t think that they are ready or we don’t think it’s the right time. If I had intentionally planned a hiking trip for my daughter to learn to overcome obstacles and challenges in the wild, it might not have been with my worn out shoes and a chance of rain.

So, I challenge you to think about who might be looking at your shoes, your path, your role?

Could you let someone walk in your shoes for a mile? What would you want them to learn?

*Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

About the Author Paul Wright

Paul Wright is the founder of WVS Courses and Coaching, and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs launch and grow new enterprises. He especially enjoys working with social innovators who create a greater good in the world with their businesses.

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