Courage is not the absence of fear but proceeding in its presence. Courage is not necessarily acts of bravery against a life-threatening adversary. Courage can be defined as a situation where you are prompted to rise, step forward and risk something, to benefit yourself or others. You must be willing to go to the front of the line to demonstrate bravery. Therefore, Courage is not always about us. It is performed as a practice, a template, a role model to benefit others.
There are instances during a day or a season when you are being watched by your family, group, team, peers and community. How will you respond in difficult situations? When a fear generating dilemma appears, there is a courage stimulating response that is required. How will you respond? Will you be brave?
When an intimidating moment appears in the leadership gauntlet, it is a perfect opportunity to stand up, show courage and be on the front line and take the lead with your people. What does courage look like? It varies with the demand and the scale of the crisis. Courage could mean standing up for them when they are bullied by peers, strangers or management. It could be when unfair assaults on their skills, reputation and performance occurs during a meeting or performance review. Courage could occur during periods of uncertainty when patience and guidance are needed to help someone make it through a frightening predicament.
Courage could also manifest itself in the ability to show weakness, vulnerability, empathy and compassion. Courage provides the opportunity to let down your guard and connect with people. Look for opportunities to show people that you are on their side, that you can identify with them and fight with them. You can roll up your sleeves, join the fight and work with them.
You must be awarethatfatigue it is one of the obstacles you will encountergoing through the leadership gauntlet.Self-healthwill strengthenyour mental physical and spiritual well-being. When we are fatigued, we cannot do our best work. We are not able to think clearly or created. I’ll run down feeling of low energy also reduces our productivity. A key component of is the amount of rest we receive. The sleep foundation says that “While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more. And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, most older people still need at least 7 hours of sleep.” Are you getting enough sleep every night?
Secondly, we are surrounded by date to increase our awareness of nutritional foods and those products that may be good for us. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NHLBI suggests that we have a healthy eating plan. “A healthy eating plan: Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Limits saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars.”
In my book, the Isle of Knowledge I focus on the mantra that I use every day. I want to get my REPS in as a part of my normal routine. R stands for reflection. I begin each day thinking about the day and the activities that lie before me. E is for exercise. It may be simple calisthenics stretching or going to the club for more rigorous activity, such as lifting weights, running or participating in a spinning class. P is for prayer to ensure that I am spiritually centered. S is for study, which requires light reading to establish continuous learning. The study may be at the beginning of the day, during the day or at night before I go to bed.
You would agree with me that you do your best work when you are rested. Your ability to last and avoid fatigue is influenced by your eating habits, exercise routine and the amount of sleep you receive.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives are familiar with the customer referred to as the “Know-it-all doctor.” The connotation was not just a physician who knew everything, but an individual who was arrogant and spoke to people in a condescending manner. There was a feeling of superiority which made it difficult to deal with others. The air of arrogance made it hard to be effective as a leader. The person who knows everything and feels no one can teach them anything, is difficult to talk to and may not be open to receiving important information.
Many times, we use arrogance to cover-up for an insecurity. We don’t want people to recognize a deficiency in some aspect of our behavior and we do not wish to be challenged. On other occasions we do not wish to be questioned because we feel we are better than everyone. Humility is not a skill that makes them comfortable.
When you make the commitment to move beyond arrogance, it must be done with authenticity. Here is an example of what not to do. A manager received feedback that addressed his arrogance of feeling he was always right. It revealed that he did not listen to his direct reports, did not solicit their comments, but when they were given, he would not value or use them. It was described as follows.
He would adopt the stance of a good listener, someone concerned about his staff’s point of view. He would lean forward, establish direct eye contact and use transitional phrases such as, go on, is that so, I did not know that and tell me more. At the conclusion, he would thank them for their courage and valuable input. He would close by saying, he was glad to have the opportunity to know how they felt, but he would continue with his idea and the original plan. His subordinates were confused and wondered why ask for their opinions and bother going through such a pointless exercise. His actions curtailed their ideas and reduced trust. Why give comments if they did not matter?
Personalize your actions to prevent arrogant behavior by focusing on these areas.
Beware of arrogant tendencies.
Listen to others.
Involve others in your decision making
Include their ideas to show you value their suggestions
Do not respond in a threatening manner when you don’t like what you hear
People do not wish to support the arrogant person. They may withhold information. They may watch someone go down the wrong path and remain silent. They will surely not give them their best effort. They will do just enough to keep their jobs. They will engage in OMDB (Over My Dead Body) behavior and thinking. Review the poem below and reflect on it and discuss with others.
Many of us may be blind to our arrogant ways. In order to change we must be open to critical remarks without taking them personally. Act as if people may feel you are arrogant, and request insight. A manager read the poem below and was offended, for it struck a nerve. He was offended by the content because he thought I was speaking to him. However, members of his staff contacted me and confirmed that it was an accurate depiction of his arrogant leadership style. Let’s act as if this might be the case. Remove personal anxiety and allow people the opportunity to give you comments that are good for everyone.
How do you respond when things don’t go your way? When disappointment is your payment for living a good life, working hard and following the rules, how do you overcome? When the promotion you expected is postponed if not rejected and hope is difficult to manage, and your confidence in damaged, how do you proceed?
How do you pick up the pieces when expectations are shattered, everything that mattered in that moment is discarded, as your opinions are disregarded, how do you position yourself to win? This question and equivalent inquiries will challenge you, as we continue to live a life that makes a difference.
Cancer patients, who overcame adversity, and other people who are struggling with or have overcome against all odds, will tell you something similar. When they came out of the tunnel, life streamlined their purpose and they emerged from the funnel, after escaping from what seemed like hell, they grateful with being granted, a greater story to tell.
A story of victory, emerging from the fire, being at death’s door, but claiming success. They will tell you how they fought a hard fight and although fatigued, they pressed on for themselves and especially for those who were watching. They will tell you that faith and determination guided them, and although they had reservations, the truth that God would set them free became their reality.
When you feel you’re at the bottom of the well, you may be disappointed, your life may seem disjointed, but you are anointed. And when you feel you at the bottom of the well, keep climbing, for you will reach the top, with a greater story to tell.
A Greater Story to Tell
When you reflect on hurdles in the race;
The many times you stood after you fell.
When you think of dreams you’ve chased
They give you a greater story to tell.
With struggles intense and continuous
Life buckled your knees, but your back was straight.
As children we were told that curiosity killed the cat, but our response was always, but satisfaction brought them back. On one hand we accused curious people of being nosy. However, curiosity was a good thing when you were called precocious. Curiosity is a critical characteristic to possess. Cultivating the habit of being curious is a precursor to creativity and innovation. Employees who constantly approach products and practices with a curiosity lens, are an asset to you, for they will develop ideas to improve your organization.
A corporate culture saturated with curiosity is vibrant and expanding. These individuals examine the status quo to understand its origins, as they look for ways to improve design and execution to increase overall quality. One of the tools of the curious is an enhanced ability to ask questions. They know that the right question will provide them with the information they need to understand and improve overall performance. Why have we always done process, this way? Many professions depend on the ability to ask questions; lawyers, salespeople, counselors, coaches, teachers, parents, years, psychiatrists and lawyers.
Curiosity paired with questioning skills will uncover information needed in an environment of continuous improvement. Think of ways that you could be more curious and set up a process to establish a curiosity infused workplace. Have fun with it because it will be exhilarating.
New leaders, in my day, were given 3 pieces of advice. These words were to guide us throughout our business careers. These words could also be a gauntlet for any leader. They have been known to demolish the morale in an organization and destroy someone’s reputation and career. We were told to never get involved in conversations regarding sex, politics and religion.
A new leader had many areas to grow and we did not need to be distracted by these very volatile topics. We can debate the relevance of this advice today, but I would like address one of the topics in a positive way. We frequently hear about the desire for employees want to bring their entire selves to work. We cannot deny that spirituality is important for many people.
Spirituality is a key part of our makeup that defines who we are. Organizations may not discuss religion in the workplace, however many of them will provide space for people to reflect, study and pray at work. Organizations should be sensitive and aware enough to encourage religious expression, outside of proselytizing (recruiting) and making others uncomfortable.
Spiritual Leadership in our 31 Day leadership gauntlet refers to the way our spirituality influences our decisions and our interaction with others. It also covers how we express personal values that align with corporate values. Creating a climate where morality, respect, responsibility, integrity, caring and forgiveness are practiced, is essential for a respectful workplace.
Developing new skills requires a change management mentality. New skills must be practiced and reinforced over time, with continuous application. The more powerful and experiential the training with total immersion in the new skills, will result in new behaviors that are sustainable.
However, you must deal with inertia, which is resistance to change. Secondly you must contend with the temptation to resort to previous behaviors in the face of difficulty. Observation and experience reveal that in a crisis, if the new skills are not firmly embedded in the subconscious, we revert to previous behavior. We retreat to what is known, comfortable and firmly established. We may discard the new information, new practices for the comfortable behaviors of the past.
If change is not fully incorporated into your rote memory or natural rhythms, you may easily relapse. Therefore, it is important to have powerful implementation procedures that are rapidly reinforced repetition to replace the memorized subconscious behaviors.
Additionally, you must firmly believe in your people and adhere to your leadership pledge to their success. In the heat of battle, turmoil or a crisis, remember that your long-term effectiveness as a leader may hinge upon the following. Your ability to be steady, call while refusing to relapse and abandoning new programs and practices for the old way of doing things.
We appreciate those who perform for us, especially actors and actresses. In a world where authenticity and transparency are encouraged, we honor those, who make a living, assuming another identity and playing different roles. William Shakespeare wrote, in the play As you like it,
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”
There are instances, where we assume certain traits and behaviors that initially feel awkward. They are not a natural part of who we are. We may be in the early stages of development. Therefore, we must fake it until we make it or act as if we have the skills, until they become a part of us.
When someone consistently plays a role, we can anticipate their actions and this predictability draws us into their character. This reminds me of us. We are vulnerable and share our personalities, so others can anticipate our actions. This predictability builds comfort, awareness and trust.
I was a part of a drama team at church, where we were trained by degreed professionals and practitioners, in the art of the theater. My manager questioned my hobby. I remember thinking, “you are asking me to act day at work, and least I can get some training to do it better.”
We are asked to act and play a role or different roles every day. We should at least play them with authenticity and transparency, until they are natural, realistic and believable.
In our role as leaders, there instances where we must act as a leader, until we put on the full mantle of the mindset and the role.
Survival is our strongest need, according to many philosophers. Abraham Maslow lists it among our basic needs, which we must fulfill before we move on to satisfying other needs on our list of priorities. Survival is dependent upon making the necessary adjustments to changes in our environment. We must include these adjustments, as a part of our evolving skills.
The quality of survival is linked to our adaptation ability, therefore our success in making adjustment to competitors in the marketplace or whatever environment surrounds us. Our objective is to aim higher , rather than barely making it. We do not want to do just enough to get by. We want to thrive and prosper. A standard of living above the baseline of existence is a desirable goal. But to achieve this enhanced quality of life, we must make continuous adjustments to our behavior.
The poem Adaptation addresses the adjustments we need to make educationally, relationally and professionally to improve our prospects for higher earning power and fulfillment of purpose. Charles Darwin wrote about the survival of the fittest and that holds true in the development of species and in developing a personal profile competitive enough to make it in the business world. Adaptation encourages the survival of the fit; those who take the time and make the effort to anticipate challenges and respond to change. Only progress is satisfactory. Movement is essential to momentum.
If someone has not seen you in several years, what change would they notice?
How has your business environment changed?
What adjustments have you made or must make to keep up with new demands in your profession?
How have you adapted to the technological demands of your profession?
How do you stay on top of matters that require your attention?
Alvin Toffler mentioned that technology has accelerated in this world of high tech, but we have not changed that much socially, in something he calls high touch. How are you socially keeping up with the times?
How are you adapting to find time for the ones you love?
The opening quote in my book the Isle of knowledge states that “I feel pressure from my purpose to align my passion with my potential.” This sentence illustrates my internal struggle to find my purpose and ensure that it is connected to my passion, so that I realize my potential, and my desire to make a difference in the world.
What is your purpose? We wrestle with the realization that we are blessed and may have talent and opportunity that is not fully utilized. We tend to go with the crowd as it relates to our careers or to align ourselves with what is popular or the most financially rewarding. Information came out recently about the top 10 jobs for the future, which indicated technology was the dominant career choice. Are you a technologically driven person? How do you align technology with your purpose?
You may be in a job that is not rewarding or fulfilling, but it is a job that pays the bills. When you determine your purpose, can you provide space to pursue it and keep your day job? Pursuing your purpose may require you to develop a ‘HIT’ list (Hobbies, Interests, Talents). This may provide the vehicle for you to address and fulfill your purpose.
Your purpose can sometimes be recognized in the things they give you the most excitement or feeling of value. Oftentimes, purpose is not about you, but what you can do for others. Through purpose you may find your significance. During your leadership gauntlet you may encounter a variety of distractions that derail you from finding and fulfilling your purpose. But you may find that within your purpose is God’s plan for your life.