“If you wait for all the lights to turn green, you’ll never leave the house.”

Red, yellow and green traffic signalI hadn’t heard this phrase before last weekend when a candidate for national leadership position in the Public Relations Society of America used it to describe why she decided to run for a position.

However, it really resonated with me.  I sometimes feel that as communicators we fall into two buckets:

1) Those who dive in the deep end with no idea how deep the water is, or even if it’s clean and
2) Those who research an idea to death so afraid of what might be on the other side.

As outside counsel, I find myself trying to drive that stake somewhere in the middle offering both an outside perspective and caution to spend at least some time on research and discussion with affected parties. Before diving in, I always ask:

Why do you want to…?

What is it you’re hoping to achieve?

Most often, these two questions lead to a deeper discussion that in the end brings everyone back to a clarity of purpose and strategy.

In the meantime, there are twists and turns and everyone learns a bit more about each other’s viewpoints, and strengths. Questions that might be thrown into the discussion include:

What resources do you need to do this?

Can you derail another project to make this happen? If so, what are the ramifications of doing that?

Who else do we need to include in these discussions?

What else do we need to know before moving ahead?

It’s during these discussions that I often reach into my network to get more information. There are many ways we all do that regularly and social media can make it even easier. Sharing our knowledge, expertise and vision with each other helps us all to make a move without all the assurances in place.

When you have a trusted network of peers, we can leave the house more easily knowing the lights aren’t all green. What questions do you ask before diving in? Or, how did you get comfortable just diving in?

I know I prefer to leave the house together, asking and answering questions together.

Green light!