Leading Through the Messy Middle

Updated: May 17



LeadingThrough the Messy Middle


The travel disruption is not over but the industry is moving ahead. We can see glimmers of hope on the horizon. Booking windows getting closer, and ships are stocking their supplies for the restart.


Where are you now?

Robin Sharma says, “All change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle, and glorious in the end.”


For the most part, we are in the messy middle. The worst of the uncertainty is behind us and consumers are flocking to travel advisors like bees to honey.


For travel leaders, the struggle is to get everyone on board with the new beginning. In fact, you may think you are in the messy middle, but your team members keep trying to run back to the beginning. A beginning that feels safe, secure, and known. A beginning that is not there anymore!


Leading change is one of the most important things you can do to create a glorious future for you and your team.

As a leader, there are many times you are called to go first. Such as when the pandemic hit, you had to be out in front making hard decisions about when to re-open, how to keep your team safe, and how to tackle the rebound.

Leading change is different. It is leading from behind. You can only go as fast as your slowest adopter.


When my son was playing elite basketball, the coach would have the team do "Better than Before Drills”. The challenge was to do 25 laps of the field and the entire team had to be faster than their last time, or they would have to repeat the drill until they got it right. These were long, painful practices, as some nights they had to repeat the drill over and over. Players literally fell over with exhaustion.

It was heartbreaking to watch the weaker runner’s struggle. Clearly, some kids are just not born to run. Yet it was profound to see the natural leaders emerge. These young athletes soon realized that unless the weakest runners got across the line faster than the last time, the team would not be able to quit. Instead of striking a glory pose when crossing the line, the leaders would drop to the back of the pack and pull the weaker runners forward.


Leading change comes with the realization that success is a team sport.


Not everyone is going to feel like moving forward, and not everyone moves forward at the same speed. You need to meet people where they are at.


There are three steps to leading your way forward.


  1. Connect with each team member individually. Not as a leader, but as a coach, mentor, and friend. Come alongside them. Meet one-on-one so they can share their experience privately. For those that are struggling, drop to the back of the pack. Pull them forward with the heart of a leader that wants to leave no team members behind.

  2. Clarify where they are on their journey. What does coming back look like for them? Most advisors say they want to come back better than before. Better always comes before bigger. Focus on developing their unique talents, and the results will follow.

  3. Confirm that you understand where they are and that it's ok. Remind them that you see a glorious future with them in it. Each team member brings a unique color to your masterpiece that no one else fills.








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PS Where you are is where you are, and that's ok. I wish you much success on the journey.



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