I am a student on leadership studies and also a practicing leader with varying degree of success. There are umpteen numbers of definitions on leadership. My intent is not to define leadership, but share some views on how leadership shapes up individuals and organizations.
Turbulent times build great leaders. Hard conditions reveal a person. Crises contain exceptional opportunity. The best leaders are the product of most uncomfortable conditions. We have numerous stories to share on this count from the early days of recorded history.
Average mortals avoid confrontations and in the process miss the glorious chance of our buried potential. Doing nothing in turbulent times is the worst one can do. Failures make us afraid to take bold steps. In a professional / leadership setting, resisting what make you feel uncomfortable at work and playing safe at wild times seems to be a safe bet, but in long term it’s a very dangerous maneuver. A great skier achieves his greatness by trying at super-hard terrains regularly. There is no bigger truth than this; when you go to your limits, your limits will expand. The more time you spend outside your comfort zone, the wider it grows. True leaders eat their fear before the fear eats them.
In an organizational setting, deficiencies get amplified in turbulent conditions. The recent economic conditions really tested many individuals and business organizations. While several organizations got folded up, the smart and agile ones excelled and even grew at a faster pace than the industry standards. In reality, intelligent enterprises got free consulting advice during these stress tests. The key takeaway from our recent experience is that the organizations must learn to become comfortable with discomfort.
How can someone become dramatically more effective? In a leadership and personally development context, this is what I would recommend. Take bold steps. The very things that make you afraid are the doorways into your leadership best. Our natural tendency is to hang on to the safe harbor of the known. Then we’ll never conquer new land or reach the summit. Setbacks are nothing more than tests to see if you are ready for rewards that are available to you. Most people give up while seeing a wall. You please don’t.
Please remember; if you have not failed, you have not tried enough. You can’t get a break through without going through a period of breakdown. Change is always messiest in the middle. Everything in your past, including the hard times and bitterness you experienced, was necessary preparation to bring you to the edge where you are finally ready to make the true leader you are capable of. Looking silly feels uncomfortable for a minute, but letting your doubts and fears own you feel uncomfortable for a life time.
Let me close this blog with a statement from the legendary world cycling champion, Lance Armstrong, who faced several adversities. Armstrong said, “pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever.” He fought hard the cancer pain and made a huge comeback to life and to his beloved spot of cycling and never gave up. Great leaders and organizations never quit. They are not afraid of failures or initial setbacks. So in this troubled economic times, let’s keep our focus on the goals for the better future for all.
I welcome your feedback and comments.
See you next week!