Explorations take many forms. Recently I was on one that caused me to pause, ponder, and seek additional counsel. The organization I was working with had a number of issues they were wading through. The situation was shaping up in a way that plenty of dialogue was happening, ideas and possibilities were on the table, and questions were being asked about how the organization should move forward. But there were also frustrations and clashing viewpoints between various members of the organization, and I wasn’t sure how to handle them.
I called my fellow explorer for advice. After I outlined the scenario he said, “Stop Dwight. Don’t do anything more with them. This is not an exploration; this is a rescue mission. You're being asked to rescue, not explore!”
The comment stopped me in my tracks, not because it was wrong, but because it was so accurate. This was an organization that was sorting through a number of heavy issues. Fingers were being pointed in lots of directions and no one wanted to take responsibility; everyone wanted to point blame. I was getting pulled into the drama. We were Commissioned to help the organization explore moving forward and instead we were being invited to a catfight!
The insight from my fellow explorer was to read and understand the times. To keep looking forward as an explorer, not backwards as a rescuer. His counsel allowed us to continue processing what was going on in the organization, but at the same time, chart a course that kept us thinking about where the organization was going in the future, to keep us from dwelling on the mistakes of the past. Exploring is about thinking forward. It is reaching beyond what is in the organization today. It’s not about reaching backwards to solve yesterday's problems.
The job of rescuing never ends. Wise leaders call rescuing for what it is: broken relationships, old assumptions, and sometimes, it's that the wrong people are on the job.