They say, when you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things or dreams you should have gone after, but didn’t. This post is about two leaders that went after “it.”
Several years ago, I read a story about childhood sweethearts, Herman and Candelaria Zapp. They met at the tender ages of 10 and 8, had a long courtship, and eventually married in 1996.
They spent early married life getting settled in their home country of Argentina. Herman was busy growing his computer and IT phone company. Life was great, though they felt something was missing.
Growing up, they always talked about exploring the globe. They weren’t going to put off their dream any longer. So, they left their comfortable life in Pantagonia, Argentina, to drive around the world in a 1928 Paige car that could only go 40 miles per hour. (Buy their book Spark Your Dream.)
Their first trip began in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2000. They drove their way through South America, Central America, Mexico and finally North America to Alaska.
In the last 12 years, the Zapp’s logged 200,000 miles, seen over 40 countries, and had four children along the way.
I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Herman and Candelaria when they had an exhibit at the NY State Fair in 2007. Their story is unthinkable.
“Herman, what do the people at the NY State Fair think about what you’re doing?” I asked. “They say I’m crazy!” he said laughing. “What do you think about that?” I said. “Steve, millions of people have dreams though they never go after them. I’m living my dream. Who’s the crazy one?” Herman replied.
The Zapps have two qualities I see in great leaders:
- They envision an impossible future
The Zapps vision of traveling around the world was something instilled in them at a very early age. A shared vision. Inspiring a shared vision is one of the five practices of exemplary leaders discussed in the best selling book by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge.
When I facilitate the Leadership Challenge workshop, the vision piece seems to be the most difficult for participants. Vision is a word associated with sight. Yet, when we think of vision in terms of a future destination or end game, sometimes it’s very difficult to see.
Visionary leaders, like Herman and Candelaria, are able to see an impossible future as if it were a high definition picture. For them it’s easy. Effortless. Or as Maria Nemeth, a wonderful coach and mentor, would say with “clarity, focus, ease, and grace.”
- They move forward not knowing how they’re going to achieve the impossible future.
The Zapps decided to drive around the world in a 1928 Paige car with virtually very little money. They were surprised by the love and caring they received along their journey. When the car broke down, someone offered to fix it for free. Transportation companies shipped their car from one continent to the next, pro bono. About 90% of the time, they stay in other peoples homes. ‘This (their journey) has a roll call of 12,000 people who have helped my family over the past 11 years,” Herman said.
Great leaders like the Zapps aren’t concerned how they’re going to finish. They’re so emotionally connected to the outcome, nothing can stand in there way. They take one step after another and make it up along the way.
- What’s the big dream for you, your company, or community?
- What are you putting on hold?
- What will tell you it’s time to begin?
As Herman says, don’t be the crazy one, go after your dream.
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