Are You the Titanic?

We all know the story of the Titanic – the unsinkable ship turned out to be sinkable, and as a result over 1,500 people died in this preventable disaster. While the movie Titanic romanticized the tragedy, the facts speak volumes:

  • The Titanic’s total capacity of passengers and crew was 3,547 (2,222 passengers and crew were actually on the Titanic).
  • The lifeboats on the Titanic were sufficient for 1,178 total passengers and crew, and there was space available for enough additional lifeboats for the Titanic’s total capacity.

But why have enough lifeboats if you believe that the Titanic is unsinkable and invulnerable?

Another fact we know about the Titanic disaster is that the culprit was an iceberg, and a critical fact about icebergs is that only 10% of their mass is above the water (90% is under the water and not clearly visible – but we know it’s there).

You’re probably now wondering what the Titanic and icebergs have to do with leadership and business (and life itself). Here are three simple and valuable lessons.

  1. Believing that you or your business are invulnerable is naïve and dangerous.
  2. Like an iceberg, most of your true problems and issues are below the surface, and your solutions must address the real issues, not the surface issues.
  3. Denial and overconfidence are not effective strategies for building your business or your team – in fact they are set-ups for unexpected setbacks (big and small).

What issues are you ignoring in your business or life? What solutions are you developing for surface issues, rather than focusing on the problems and challenges that are beneath the surface? What people, team or business issues are you overlooking or underplaying?

We can never see or know all of the issues that are beneath the surface, but we’re certain to miss them if we’re overconfident or unwilling to be internally honest in assessing our issues and their impact.

Are you watching for icebergs (and their 90% under the surface)? Are you ignoring or downplaying red flags or tolerating people or issues?

The Titanic was believed to be unsinkable, but now we all know better, and over a thousand lives were lost. Your Titanic thinking might not actually result in a loss of lives, but lives and opportunities will be impacted. So I ask you, are you or your business the Titanic?

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