Getting your ducks in a row #realize10years

“It’s taken me ten years to realize…” As 2019 brings my tenth year working as a professional coach, I thought I’d capture the top ten of many lessons I’ve been learning, and continue to do so (!), through working with amazing clients and the ups & downs of business … keep an eye out for further posts in this series.

mallard-ducks-934518_1920.jpgDo you think ducks ever worry about getting their ducks in a row? I recently met with a coaching colleague who told a lovely story about seeing a duck walking along a busy road with her ducklings in a row behind, right in the centre of Dublin, and how several passers-by, including a delivery guy on a bike, escorted the duck and her fluffy family safely through the traffic to the canal.

The story got me thinking about another of my “top ten” themes…  getting our ducks in a row. We often waste so much time waiting… waiting in line, waiting for an answer… for the right time, to feel ready. We want to feel we have done the preparation, the thinking and rational planning – being clear about the outcome we want and having some idea of how to get there, and where to start – this is all valuable work.

But very often, I’ve noticed with my coaching clients that “getting the ducks in a row” turns into a never ending cycle of, ah no, not just yet, I don’t feel ready, I need to do X, talk to Y, get qualified in Z… and they may never feel ready to start; stuck in an endless loop of indecision, waiting for the next thing, then the next…

As in all things, there is a balance required in this. Really what we are unconsciously trying to do is to manage the risk of failure, and the fear of the unknown, and we may be putting energy into creating even more obstacles for ourselves, rather than pragmatically managing risks.

How would we know when it feels right to do just enough preparation & planning? Maybe before you feel fully ready you might have to prepare to take a calculated risk, step outside the comfort zone, and trust ourselves to find the right way forward?  I’m guessing that mamma duck leading her ducklings out didn’t know exactly what would happen, but some instinct was drawing her to the water, and it’s interesting to note the unexpected support she received along the way to her destination.

So if you’re planning a new project, taking a step into the unknown, or want to make changes in your organisation or team, the following questions might be helpful.

  • What is the outcome I’m trying to achieve and by when?
  • What are the risks to achieving this outcome?
  • How real and impactful are these risks? Are they showstoppers if they happen?
    Do I trust myself to cope with whatever might arise? What’s within my control? What can I influence here?
  • Do I need to have every step mapped out? What if things change?
  • What roadblocks or obstacles might I be putting in place? Am I looking at material risks or are they just beliefs and assumptions of mine?

If you can trust yourself more, make a start when you’re not 100% sure of what’s next, get support from others, how might that help you to lead and manage change more effectively?

Remember too that sometimes action comes before motivation!

Hopefully this will allow you to take to change like a duck to water!

If you want to help your organisation’s leaders and teams to thrive, by connecting, communicating and collaborating better – you might be interested in hosting my in-house “Thriving Teams” masterclass – contact me at liz(at) or connect on social media for more information!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.