Last week, I shared that great leaders accept their path in the world of leadership, and keep moving forward. In essence, they own it. They recognize that “this is mine to do.”
Upon further reflection, I think that great leaders not only own the path and keep moving forward but they also embrace their challenges. As Marcus Aurelius wrote so very long ago, “Our actions may be impeded . . . but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
As leaders, we recognize that our work involves, people, structure, systems and culture. We explore mission, vision and values. We spend hours working on strategy, brand identity, and understanding the strategic landscape.
And yet, the result of all this work is that we will continue to experience obstacles and challenges. They do not go away. They just keep coming. People, including ourselves if we are honest, feel frustrated, overwhelmed, anger and even confusion by this. But in the end, we, who sit in the leadership chair, have to make decisions and keep moving forward.
Here is where the great leaders do something unique. They understand what Andy Grove, former CEO of INTEL, meant when he wrote, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.”
Ryan Holiday in his wonderful book, The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Penguin, 2014, writes “It’s a huge step forward to realize that the worst thing to happen is never the event, but the event and losing your head.” Great leaders embrace the difficult challenges before them and do not loose their head. As Holiday continues, “See things for what they are. Do what we can. Endure and bear what we must.”
As the Haitian proverb states, “Behind mountains are more mountains.” There will be more problems in the future. This is normal in the world of leadership. However, our choice to persevere through them is what separates the great leaders from the good leaders.
This week, embrace the challenges you have. Work with others to solve them. Then, learn from them. But, in the end, always keep moving forward with commitment, clarity and integrity. This is the path to being a great leader.