Someone recently reminded me of this clever five-chapter poem about continuously making the same mistakes. It was great to have the reminder because it had been popping into my head as I spoke with various clients. When I first encountered the poem many years ago, I resonated with the first three chapters. I kept falling into the same hole(s) over and over – in my life, my work, my leadership, and my relationships. I often see how my clients fall into the same holes over and over again as well.

Now, however, what truly resonates with me are the fourth, and even more so, the fifth chapter – the concept of “walking down a different street.” I watch many leaders struggle with trying to get out of the same holes – poor relationships with co-workers or their bosses, a feeling of overwhelm and too much to do, the inability to delegate and let go, fear that keeps them from speaking up (or shutting up) in meetings, a life that’s completely out of balance. As I watch them and listen to their stories, I can only think, over and over again, “how about if you walk down a different street?”

The power of Thoughtful Leadership™ is to have choice in this moment – right here, right now – to opt for a different path. To walk down a different street.

Autobiography in Five Chapters

by Portia Nelson

Chapter One:

I walk down the street.
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I’m lost.
I’m helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two:

I walk down the same street.
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three:

I walk down the same street.
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I fall in.
It’s a habit.
But my eyes are open.
It is my fault and I get out immediately.

Chapter Four:

I walk down the same street.
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five:

I try walking down a different street.

What do you need to do to walk down a different street?
Please leave a comment to let us know.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For help walking down a different street, contact Lisa at

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