Stop. Look. Go Leadership

One of the earliest things we were taught when we were children, especially as we gained the ability to walk and go outside, was to Stop, Look, and then Go across the street. Do you remember being taught this childhood skill?

I do.

The crazy thing? Stop, look, go easily applies to our leadership. Too bad more of us don’t follow this simple practice.

You might know of someone who didn’t follow stop, look, go before crossing the street. There were times the person made it safely across the road. Then, there might have been a time when they didn’t.

I think back to elementary school and my friend Antwan.

Antwan lived 5 fives houses away. We’d go to school together, play video games, and have a good time. Then there was that day. The day he didn’t stop, look, and then go.

Rather, he just went across the road. And that was a bad mistake.

There was a terrible accident. Antwan was hit by a car that didn’t see him crossing the road. He wound up in the hospital for quite some time.

Your leadership could become wrecked in the same way. That’s why, even as leaders, it’s important to Stop, Look, and then Go.

Stop: While leading, you have to pause to get your bearings. Take a breather. Let off the gas. Gather your wits. And wait.

We all need a period of rest and focus. Don’t neglect this time.

Look: The next step is to look. You’ll want to spend some time looking.

Survey the land. See what obstacles may be in the way of your vision.

Only by looking will you see what’s coming at you and if it’s safe to proceed.

GO!: Once you’ve stopped and had a chance to look around at your current situation, it’s time to GO!

Like crossing the road, once you’ve assessed the path is clear, it’s time to go. If you wait too long, the opportunity to GO may pass you by.

Take action once you know you’ve got things as close to right as you can. Leaders take action and that’s where GO comes into play.

Leadership requires us to Stop before approaching our next big goal. This gives you the time to Look what’s coming at you. And then it’s time for gameday and GOing.

Question: Do you stop, look, and go in your leadership? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Yes I do. I think it’s smart to take some time to really think/plan before any big move. You’re right, you can see what bumps lay ahead.

    • Awesome man. How has this principle impacted your life?

  • Nick

    I don’t, I’m usually GO, sometimes look. That’s why I love my wife so much. She’s usually the one who stops and looks. So, I’ve become accoustomed to running my ideas, emails, and other things through her before I GO. We work in each other’s strengths and giftings.

    • That’s awesome though Nick. You’ve got the balance in your life, even if it’s not fully you. With your wife next to you, you’re able to get more of the stop, look, go into your life.

  • Pioneer Outfitters

    It’s funny, Joe- but as I read this, I realized that as a general rule- I don’t, in many parts of my life- I typically “GO!” … but as I was reading your words, I could see at those times that the universe took control and made me wait, STOP & Look- I (and everybody else) benefited from it.
    Thank you for this. So often it isn’t the “Big” things that are really the “Big” things and you always bring those to our attention- the ones that are truly the important points.

    • My pleasure Amber-Lee. I’m glad it opened your eyes to see all the times you actually benefited from stopping, looking, and then, even if not by your own choice, going.

  • Such a neat way to think about leadership development. Thanks Joe for helping me re-assess how I lead by the Stop, Look, and Go tool.

    • Thanks Paul! Glad it’s helped you rethink at least a portion of the way you lead.

  • I find that the Stop & Look parts come quite easy to me…moving from looking to going, on the other hand….

    • What could you do to improve moving from looking to going?

      • Joe, I think the analogy of crossing the road has the answer…I just need to look left, right, left again, then cross. (as opposed to left, right,left,right,left,right, oh nevermind…)

  • I used to be like your friend Antwan, rushing headlong toward whatever goal I had in my sights. Then I stumbled upon Michael Hyatt’s “Creating a Personal Life Plan”, and while it hasn’t completely revolutionized by life yet, it has helped to bring focus, direction and most importantly forced time-outs to “Stop, Look [before] Go”. In fact, today is wrapping up one of my monthly retreats.

    One of the insights coming out of this retreat, is that sometimes you need to “Stop, Look and Go back”. For the past 6 months, I have been striving to fulfill one of the “goals” concerning my political involvement, I had set for this year. As I surveyed the landscape around that objective this weekend, I’m coming to the conclusion that I need to withdraw from that involvement.

    Those first two steps, Stop & Look, are crucial to deciding the third: “To Go or Not To Go”, that is the question that can only be answered when one has Stopped and Looked.

    • Good to hear Michael Hyatt’s life plan book has helped you become more intentional and focused.

  • Great formula Joe! We have to release the gas every once in a while so we can refocus on the tasks we should be doing.