Where Are Your Fall Lines?

In skiing, the fastest way down the hill is a primary fall line. Every hill might have more than one fall line. If you rolled a ball down the hill, it might go more to the right or more to the left, depending on where you start, the angle you face, and how fast you start the ball rolling.

Parts of my daily walks are downhill. Depending on how I start down the hill, it’s easier for me to tend to the right or the left. I have to correct myself to go straight. I’m not excited about the downhills because I need to manage my walking. (Walking downhill is more challenging with vertigo.) I have to be more intent and watch where I’m going.

I prefer walking uphill. I find it easier to stay straight, and not wander off course.

I bet you have multiple fall lines in your projects, in your life, and definitely in your relationships.

The fall lines in my walks are visible. I can plan my “attack” for my downhill. How visible are your fall lines?

Fall lines in projects are about risks. If the risk occurs as I expected, it’s the fall line I expect. If it’s off a little bit, I don’t expect it. Here’s an example. I thought I would be done with the program management book by now. I’m not. It’s still in beta.

I have good reasons: I had a ton of travel in the fall, many client engagements, and some mourning. I was not able to do what I planned.

That’s normal. We make plans and “something happens.” I don’t know about you, but even with all my experience, I don’t expect dramatic shifts in my life. I expect small shifts, not big ones.

When a big shift occurs, that’s a change in fall line. We need to change how we react and what we do next.

We can try to proceed the same way we planned, and that’s often a failure. Acknowledging the fall lines, changing our immediate plans, and creating options for our next steps is almost always a better idea than trying to proceed the way we had planned. In my life, I call this “seeing the reality, replanning, and more choices.” You might call it something else.

On hills, fall lines are more clear. You might encounter a slight downhill that surprises you, but you are more apt to see the fall lines and be able to pick one to walk or ski down. In life, our fall lines are less obvious. What can you do to make your fall lines more obvious? Regardless of whether we see them, we do need to adapt to them.

That, adaptable leaders is the question this week: Where are your fall lines?

5 thoughts on “Where Are Your Fall Lines?

  1. John

    I like the point you make about acknowledging the fall lines, Johanna. As someone who can often fall into the trap of being rigid, it’s something I need to keep reminding myself about.

    Having four kids, I often find when I come home from work they’ve all been busy letting off their own little landslides, and the fall lines all look different to the day before. I sometimes have to pause to try to take in the new lay of the land before taking my next step!

    1. johanna Post author

      John, kids will do that! I like the way you described it: their own little landslides. Little kids, little landslides. Big kids, big landslides.

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