Leadership can be hard! I was reading an article in *Scientific American Mind about a student from Brown University who in 1984 was studying in Israel. He and two friends were walking while on a camping trip and he was ahead of them. Suddenly he was minus a foot! He stepped on a land mine. Leadership can be hard and in this case, it really was painful! It takes stamina and a great mindset to move forward when accidents happen. Or when one loses money on a business idea it can be difficult to bounce back.
A few thoughts came to me as I read this article. The first was that stepping out ahead of the others is a daring adventure. Leaders put themselves in a position of being risk takers. Secondly, when confronted with adversity, people are forced to be resilient and push themselves to move forward, even if they think they cannot. Thirdly, good leadership is always available to find through referrals and mentors.
If you are an active business owner, you are often we are watching high achievers in business. High achievers who risk putting their own reputation and safety out there for others to follow. And we do follow them, because we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We see how someone has accomplished what we are striving to do and we try to duplicate the format. We look at the system that has propelled them forward and we go to them for success.
Unfortunately, we don’t see all the obstacles they’ve endured. When I watch the Olympics, one of the best parts of it for me is hearing the stories of how the athletes have come to succeed. Quite often they have endured many injuries, personal set backs, or losses. It is great to hear their interviews. Most of the time they take responsibility for the risks they take and move ahead. They do not give up. They get up over and over again.
I am watching a grandson now who is an excellent soccer player and wrestler. In a tournament game, he injured his ACL, LCL, and Meniscus. These are major injuries that needed surgery. He presented to a surgery center that works with a professional team in Chicago to have the repairs. He will be undergoing 8 months plus of therapy to get back into the sport of soccer that he loves. The injury has temporarily changed his pathway to going into college sports for the next year. It has not deterred him, but strengthened his resolve to move forward.
As the author of Erasing Adversity, I say that adversity can make us stronger. It isn’t the experience of success or failure that makes us; it is what we take from the experience that gives us personality and value. Experience alone can sour people, but keeping a healthy mindset and determinations to reach a goal is the secret.
It amazes me how well some people are able to overcome problems. As a counselor and educator I’ve learned not only through my own experiences, but vicariously from other people. The ability to focus on one thing at a time helps. We need to keep things simple. The next time you are feeling stuck or frustrated, take a simple task and complete it. Maybe it’s cleaning out the dishwasher or sweeping the garage floor. Do it and finish the project. A simple task completed well will help you break the cycle of inaction. Create your own healthy system made our of habits to conquer a problem head on!
Another thing that one can do to be successful is to engage with others. Social isolation is unhealthy. Although not everyone is Mr. or Mrs. Congeniality, having purposeful tasks and relationships compel us to be better. We tend to dress the part, take responsibility and smile more when things are going well, but good leadership is open, humble, and honest. We learn to trust people and socialize. In doing so we contribute to the lives of other people; we volunteer; we share and give away our talents.
*Special Collectors Edition Scientific American Mind Spring 2018