The Four Guideposts: Lessons from Gamache

by | Dec 22, 2022

A few things got me through the pandemic: bags of Doritos, staring at the ocean, and Louise Penny and her Inspector Gamache book series. 

For those not in the know, the series is set in Three Pines, a fictional town in Quebec. Penny writes in a way that makes you feel like you’re sitting in the Bistro with the characters. They become your friends. You want to hang out with them. You miss them during the day. For real. 

Fair warning, when (not if) you read the series, don’t blame me when you have a constant hankering for fresh croissants, baguette sandwiches with brie and arugula, and bowls of cafe au lait. 

The main character, Chief Inspector Gamache, recruits and trains detectives for the police force. He also has a way about him that defines integrity, loyalty, and calm. 

One night (or every night) when I woke up at 2:00 AM unable to sleep, I grabbed my phone and opened up the Kindle app to the latest from Louise. Gamache had just recruited a new candidate and laid down his guideposts for how to conduct oneself to succeed in the police force:

I’m sorry. I was wrong. I don’t know. I need help. 

I sat up in bed and whisper-yelled as not to wake Mike, “This is it!” 

These are the guideposts ALL leaders should live by and impart to their teams. 

The ability to admit I’m sorry, I was wrong, I don’t know, I need help. 

When we are in the toughest of situations. 

When we are feeling lost. 

When we are confused. 

When we are uncertain. 

When we think we have to know it all. 

When we believe we have to get it right. 

When we’re feeling the pressure of being lonely at the top. 

If leaders, if all of us, when faced with any of those challenges could say, I’m sorry. I was wrong. I don’t know. I need help. 

Imagine what it would do to keep us out of assumption. To create connection through true vulnerability. To remove the pressure of having to know it all. (You don’t, and you won’t.) To admit it when we screw up. (We’re going to screw up.) To ask for help and know we are not alone. 

As I sign off for the year and get ready to take a break, the times I admitted, “I need help” come to mind. The squad I have on the other end of the phone that was there to answer my call is pretty remarkable. Amy Climer, Jill Pearson, Janna Jorgensen, Alex Suchman, Jennifer Miller…and a whole bunch more were there when I needed them and helped me make it through. 

Hopefully, you too are ready to put on the old OOO and have your clever, “See you next year!” messages lined up. 

Hopefully you’ve got a crew of people that are there on the other end of the line when you ask for help. 

Hopefully, as leaders, you can embrace and adapt these guideposts in 2023 and see the impact on your leadership, your relationships, and your well-being. 

I’ll be back on January 12th. Have an awesome break and note: when you read the Gamache series, you have to read them in order. 😉


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