Following the Crumbs: How Tiny Trails Lead to Stories of Lessons Learned [With Video]

Written by Darren Kanthal

February 14, 2024

An image of two people hiking on a trail and going towards a big mountain

Video Transcription:

Alright, I have to confess something that I’m not really proud of. And that is, I used to own a PT Cruiser. There’s a story to it, and I won’t bore you with the story today. But the important part of this story is following the breadcrumbs that life provides you, and I’ll explain.

My buddy Steve tells this really funny story where he and his wife Kendra were sitting at a traffic light, and what drove by was a PT Cruiser. Kendra watches the car, pauses for a moment, and then asks Steve, “Hey, how’s Darren doing?” So that was following the breadcrumb, right? Life showed her that PT Cruiser, she remembered me, and then boom, she asked Steve how I was doing.

Follow the Breadcrumbs of Your Mind

In one of the professional development programs I led in 2022, we talked a lot about following the breadcrumbs. There was a cohort of 20 people and we went through a lot of topics — it was over the course of nine months.

And what I encouraged the participants to do is follow the breadcrumbs of your mind. So we were talking about a variety of topics — speaking up, performance management, change management, time management, all these real meaty corporate topics. I ask people to follow the breadcrumbs and see where they led.

And more times than not, what it led to was: one, a funny story, which is always appreciated, and two, maybe more importantly, were lessons learned — that when we were talking about time management, they were reminded about the first watch that their grandfather had given them. And it reminded them then of an old boss who told him this really great trick for how to do time blocking on their calendar. Or whatever it was.

So, I share that with you – to follow those breadcrumbs. If your mind goes somewhere, where did it go? Why did it go there? What’s important about where it went? Is it helpful to share this story? More times than not, if we don’t speak up, then we’re not able to help whatever this situation is moving forward.

Sharing Your Story Matters

Yes, to play my own devil’s advocate. Sometimes, we have to choose our battles. Sometimes, it makes more sense not to speak up. And I’m not speaking about those moments. What I’m talking about more is when you have a thought and something within you makes you stop and not share it. And then later, you’re like, “Ahh sh*t, I wish I would have said something.”

So my point is to follow those breadcrumbs, share the story, and see what sharing the story does for other people — especially when there are lessons learned or some endearing story about your grandparents or growing up or something. In this cohort, I watched amazing things unfold by someone just saying, “Hey, I want to share this story.”

So my encouragement to you is – follow those breadcrumbs.

Darren Kanthal

Darren Kanthal, Founder of The Kanthal Group, is a values-driven leadership and career coach with over 20 years of experience in HR and Talent Acquisition. Darren is intensely passionate about helping mid-career leaders cut through the BS, do the foundational work, and achieve their greatness.


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