Leaders: Are you Building a “Bridge to Nowhere?”

Bridge to Nowhere

Many people have heard of the infamous “bridge to nowhere”  in Alaska that became a veritable hockey puck in the 2008 U.S. presidential election and occasionally reemerges in the current election cycle.

In fact one Republican candidate used the cliché to attack another candidate in the February 22nd debate in Arizona.

Most people hear the phrase “bridge to nowhere” and instantly think that to whatever issue the cliché is being applied. It connotes an example of political or bureaucratic waste.

However, we need to look deeper.

On Leadership and Criticism

While this writer is not defending the “bridge to nowhere,” we may be missing something important that is of great worth. The Gravina Island Bridge  concept was to catalyze explosive development to not only Ketchikan, Alaska but the whole southeast region of the state.

Having lived for several years in Alaska, development of new areas can lead to big investment and growth. It is the one state where people in the lower 48 states have great say-so about how Alaska will or will not be developed.

The point is that we often cut our opportunities short based on the superficial criticisms rather than doing a genuine cost/benefit analysis. What opportunities have you missed because others said your vision is a “bridge to nowhere?”

Building that Bridge

When John was sixteen years old his dad asked him, “Son, what do you want to do for a career?

 John said, “I want to be a medical doctor.”

His dad replied, “You don’t want to be a medical doctor. Why don’t you become a dentist?”

“I don’t want to look in peoples’ mouths all day,” John replied.

His dad quipped, “So as a medical doctor you’re going to be looking in some much worse places.” HaHa he laughed.

John never became a doctor or dentist, as everyone he met seemed to have a reason why he didn’t really want to be a medical doctor.

Has Anybody Seen the Bridge?

What issue are you facing that you or others put down by calling it a “bridge to nowhere?” “Nowhere” could potentially be failure but almost every case of success is preceded by risk and an investment of money, time, and resources.

By this definition it may be wise for you to be on a bridge to nowhere because it may lead to a big successful somewhere.

Because of the high level of unemployment in the United States, the government has extended unemployment assistance to ninety-nine weeks. One politician recently observed that an unemployed person could potentially earn an associate degree from college in ninety nine weeks.

There’s you bridge to nowhere that could go somewhere.

Where’s the Confounded Bridge?

To Build or Not to Build. That is the Question!

Okay, how can you decide whether to build your bridge to nowhere and what substantive information may you give to naysayers that your bridge actually will go somewhere? Here are a few questions:

1.       If you don’t take your “bridge to nowhere” where will you likely be in six months or a year?

2.      The questions are thus: Can you afford not to take the “bridge to nowhere?”

3.      Define the potential benefit to your taking the “bridge to nowhere.”

4.      Define the potential risks such as a cost benefit analysis. Be realistic.

5.      Have you found yourself revisiting the potential “bridge to nowhere” because it just may be your calling or destiny?

6.      Do you feel it in your gut? If so, answer all of the questions, complete a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)  analysis, decide, and …start building your bridge to somewhere.

>>> Please add questions you think of under the comments section. I would love to hear your thoughts!<<<

Your Bridges

You should not take every “bridge to nowhere” but indeed, some of them may actually take you somewhere.

In the words of Yoggi Berra:

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”

When you hear the phrase “bridge to nowhere” of what do you think? Can you remember a time in your life when you took a “bridge to nowhere” and it took you somewhere? Have you arrived at a place in life in which the “bridge to nowhere” may be your best option?


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Dr. Tom Cocklereece
 is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist
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Image Sources: images.wikia.com


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