When I set out on my bike ride tonight I had a clearly laid out plan in mind that would take me for a pleasant ride along the Peninsula Link Bike Trail about a third of the way into my planned route. As I turned out of the traffic onto the much calmer bike path and headed into the serenity of Pines Reserve, I was confronted by road bunting blocking the trail, redirecting me back into busy traffic. It would be fair to say that I was more than a little miffed!
For a few kilometres into the forced change of route I nearly allowed the disappointment of an unplanned detour to overshadow the possibilities of unexpected discoveries. Instead, the change of scenery presented another perspective that added a new dimension to my ride as I took in my new surroundings. Embracing the detour enabled me to enjoy the journey while still reaching my original destination.
How often in life and leadership do we set out with a clearly marked out plan for the day, a new year or even a career path and encounter unwelcomed detours that take us off course? Along the way we have a choice to resent and resist these detours seeing them as obstacles or to embrace and engage them as opportunities. Keeping focused on your end goal allows you the flexibility to adjust course along the way and integrate detours as a part of the overall journey.
Whether it be a bike ride or a leadership experience, it has most often been the detours that have presented me with the greatest learning and relational opportunities through the unexpected encounters along the way.