Do you know the width of a railroad track? Oddly, four feet, eight-and-a-half inches. Do you know why?
“That’s the way we have always done it.”
As the story goes, the four feet, eight-and-a-half inches for American railroads has roots. Why? Because that is how wide they were in England. Why? Because the trams used that width before the railroads came along. Why? Because of the wagons that came before the trams. Why? Because old English roads had ruts that were, you guessed it, four feet, eight-and-a-half inches. Why? Because that’s how wide the ruts were on the Imperial Roman roads made by their chariots. Why? Before there were chariots they had carts which were pulled by horses. Put two old Roman horses side by side and measure the average width of their rear ends and, well, you know what you get. The width of a U.S. railroad track.
You may be dizzy by now, but I hope you get the point. If you can trace your reasoning back to the width of a horse rear end you have officially lost it!
Any time you do something because that is the way you have always done it you risk being stuck in a rut.
Take a little time in the coming days and ask yourself what needs to be changed in your leadership environment.
Also, your team needs permission to challenge the way things are done. Only you can grant that permission. A healthy environment is one where everyone has a voice.
Don’t change for the sake of change, but don’t be afraid of something new.
Maybe it’s time for you to widen the “tracks” or even jump them altogether?
“That’s the way we have always done it,” will only keep you where you are. Unless you are knocking it out of the park, I suggest you consider some changes.
Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.