Leading Through Hell and Back

Leading through hell and back is a blog about guiding others and yourself through the most difficult circumstances.

While leading people, you lead them through the sunshine and rain, the good times and the bad, and sometimes it’s heaven and sometimes it feels like hell.  Now I am not speaking entirely in the business world, but rather leaders in a general sense.

Many different individuals, some famous and some are not, that in the course of their life have trudged through the hardest of times, in the most difficult of circumstances.  Allow me to give you a few examples.

Mahatma Gandhi- This man is a famed figure for his non-violent civil disobedience, leading India to its independence.  This man was assassinated in 1948 with three bullets to the chest.  Gandhi truly was a leader, but it ultimately cost him his life.

Martin Luther King Jr.- MLK was an amazing figure in America’s history.  He was immortalized for his stand against racism and segregation.  This Baptist minister charged the gates of Hell with his passionate messages of equality and ultimately gave his life in the month of April 1968.

Susan B. Anthony- The face of the dollar coin, this pioneer of women’s rights forged a path that few would dare to walk.  She paved the way for women voting, even being arrested and accused of destroying the sanctity of marriage.  Her impact is still being felt today.  But the road was long and hard for this leader.

Many of the liberties that we enjoy today are the product of leaders storming through the violent fires of resistance and persecution.  I want to provide you with a few ideas to help you lead in the toughest of times and encourage you to lead when you feel the heat beating upon your life.

1. Identify Your Calling

What is it that stirs a passion in your heart?  Keeps you awake at night, with your mind racing a hundred miles per hour.  It calls out to you and drives you to near insanity because you cannot seem to wrap your arms around such a mammoth task.

People are called to many different causes.  Some are called to find a cure for various diseases.  We find people in the states that take up social causes, as well as in foreign countries where clean water is scarce, governments are corrupt, and views on women are low.  You can go to our military in the past and present and find men and women that lead a group of soldiers into the jaws of hell, with some giving their very lives to protect those of us here at home.

Teachers, business people, industry leaders, politicians, clergy, parents, coaches, mentors, police, firefighters, military personnel, and many other leaders that find themselves up against the odds and having to lead through difficult circumstances.  Here are three things that having a calling will do for you:

  • Gives you stick-ability:  A calling will plant your feet in concrete and allow you to stand and lead though everything is against you.
  • Gives you encouragement:  When it seems like you are up against it all, you can always go back to your calling and remember why you began this path in the first place.
  • Keeps you zoned in:  When you have a calling you seek to master that one thing.  You won’t let the winds scatter you all over the place, but rather you are the thin arrow flying down a very narrow path hitting the bulls eye.

“If you find what you do each day seems to have no link to any higher purpose, you probably want to rethink what you’re doing.”
― Ronald A. Heifetz

Do you have a calling?  If the path you are on leads you into the presence of strong difficulty, you better have a calling if you want to remain faithful to your cause.  Find your calling today, or better yet, answer the call that’s been nagging you for years.

2.  Develop Fortitude

The definition of fortitude is, courage in the midst of pain and adversity.  Listen, leadership is going to require a great deal out of you.  You may find yourself in a great deal of trouble and fearful situations and you will need courage to face them head on.

Most people have never heard of Desmond Doss, until recently a movie titled “Hacksaw Ridge” directed by Mel Gibson, was showing in theaters.  Desmond was a Seventh Day Adventist that did not believe in carrying a gun.  Oddly enough, he enlisted in the military to serve the US Army as a medic.  Doss found himself in WWII at the battle of Okinawa, with many calling him a coward and questioning his beliefs as a conscientious objector.

During a major counter-attack the Japanese wreaked havoc on top of “Hacksaw Ridge.”  While most of his comrades took cover Desmond Doss, through much fortitude, rescued the lives of 75 infantry men atop of that blood soaked hill while sustaining four major injuries himself.

It’s men and women like this that can lead people through hell and back.  Leaders with fortitude and a back bone to face the most incredible challenges and endure such amazing conflicts.

I know of no higher fortitude than stubbornness in the face of overwhelming odds.

-Louis Nizer

May we have leaders with the utmost courage and strength.  No matter the circumstance or battle you may face, the deep calling, and a healthy dose of courage will help you when it seems all hell has broke loose.

3.  Remember Those Behind You

Never forget, as a leader, when you are going through the fire, there are those going with you through the same fire.

For various reasons you are the leader.  You have proven yourself and have gained the position of leadership.  Therefore, there is a great responsibility given to you for those you lead.  Everyone is looking to you for guidance, instruction, and yes, inspiration.

There are a few things you can do to maintain your focus on those around you when you are going through difficult times:

  • Give them a job to do– I remember as a boy when our power went out for several days because of an ice storm and as a kid I was pretty scared.  But dad instructed me to go out back and carry wood in, and let me know I was an important part to this family during this difficult time.
  • Show them you trust them– Similar to giving them a job to do, but taking it a step further, you are transferring to them that you have confidence in there ability to handle complex problems in the midst of turmoil.
  • Lock arm in arm– I tell my guys all the time, we win as a team and we fail as a team.  Leaders shouldn’t shirk their responsibilities when all hell pours out, but instead get in the furnace with them, leading and comforting them along the way.

There was a sign I read the other day that said, “The comfort zone can be a beautiful place, but nothing grows there.”

 -Someone a lot cooler than me said that!

It’s during these hellish battles that we grow together, the team matures, and your leadership abilities develop even greater.  There are some things that you just can’t learn outside of the hard times.

Conclusion

So the next time you have to lead a group of individuals through the fires of Hell, never forget that these trials are for your benefit, and even though you want to focus on the hear and now, let us cast our eyes on the horizon to view the lesson and benefits that we shall receive through much patience, fortitude, and strength.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” -Winston Churchill 

 

 

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3 Ways To Get “Back” To Leading

Screaming in excruciating pain, leadership in this world today seems to have fallen and broken it’s back.  One of the worst injuries a person can sustain is a broken back, creating all kinds of havoc upon the life of the individual.  By way of introduction, I am going to mention a few common effects of a back that has been broken:

  1.  Crippled Leadership– Ineffective Leading
  2.  Paralyzed Leadership– Inactive Leading
  3.  Dead Leadership– Indefinite Loss of Leading

Leadership needs to get “back” to doing what it’s function was meant to do-LEAD!  Many “leaders” need to press their “life alert” button, because they “have fallen and can’t get up!”

Staying with our theme, “The Anatomy of a Leader,” I want to give you three ways that will affect a leaders back and get them “back” to leading.

Get a Backbone

I love this quote I saw sometime ago,

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”

-Alexander the Great

We need a generation of leaders that are going to get some grit in their crawl and take a stand.  Strong leadership is one of the crowning jewels of a nation, a business, and a family.  Sometimes, that means standing alone!  Sometimes, that means being misunderstood, or even mocked.  But the leader with a backbone has weathered many a storm, and has stood on the bow of the ship and guided it through some rough waters.

Do not confuse what I am saying. I am not talking about being belligerent, loud, and obnoxious.  Being a jerk and running people over is not leadership.

You may be an introvert and still be strong, quite but confident, and humble but bold. Some of the greatest leaders in history were introverts. They lead without being loud!  They leave their mark without being a mockery!  They can guide without acting like God!  They have authority without a bad attitude!

Having a backbone, standing strong, and guiding with confidence, will get you “back” to leading.

Backing Up is Not an Option

Forward progress should be the direction of every aspiring leader.  Carrying the weight of the world and feeling the pressure of your position will many times send the leader into retreat and backing out of their responsibility.

Fear is a great monster that torments our mind, but can be a great motivator that thrusts into forward motion.  Fear holds back many leaders and cripples them from any real and true progress.

“There can be no retreat when there’s no rear. You can’t retreat, or even withdraw, when you’re surrounded. The only thing you can do is to break out, and in order to do that you have to attack, and that is what we’re about to do. Heck, all we’re doing is attacking in a different direction.”

—Marine Major General Oliver P. Smith, in Korea, 1950

Great leaders know that there is no retreat.  No retreat in the fire!  No retreat in the fight!  No retreat in the face of failure!  What are you going to retreat to?  Where would you go and what would you be doing?  Those with a backbone must not back up or back down, but march on!

The back is the most vulnerable part of the body when you are in the retreat mode.  You cannot protect it or shield it.  Let me give you a few things that will keep you from moving backwards:

  • Courage- Merriam-Webster said that courage is the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

Courage is the main quality of leadership, in my opinion, no matter where it is exercised. -Walt Disney

  • Confidence- Confidence is a state of mind.  To me confidence comes from small victories every single day.  I go to work every day with the mindset of winning.  We have the best product.  We have a great team.  We have an amazing customer base.  I can have confidence in the fact that whatever I face or whatever I feel, I can overcome it by simply pressing forward and not giving up.
  • A Calling- If you do not believe in what you are doing, read my lips, “YOU WILL NOT MAKE IT!”  It has to be a passion that drives you through the fiercest trials and battles.  You need to find your calling!  You know what it is!  It has been nagging on you for years.  Go for it and do not look back!

Use your back for other purposes other than retreating, and those around you will follow you and trust you, because they can see that you are a person that is willing to stick with the stuff no matter what!

Brace Yourself

When I lifted weights a lot, one thing I wore all the time was a back brace.  I would be lifting heavy weights and would need additional support to keep from hurting my back.

Listen, you need to brace yourself for the burdens that you are about to lift.  The leader needs a strong back in order to carry such a load.  Why wear a brace?

  1. Support- As a leader you need support.  Whether it is motivational resources, a mentor, a spouse, your team, or whatever you deem strong enough to keep you motivated.
  2. Strength- Constant training is necessary but will leave you weak and vulnerable at times.  A brace will help you maintain form and posture, to best assist you in your strength training.  You will need strength as a leader!

These two things will help you brace for failure and fatigue.  Do not let the burden of a leader cause you to back away or back down, but rather put a passion in you to lead with great influence.

The ability to handle these loads will determine your ability to lead. It’s true, the leader carries great burdens, more than the average person.  Brace for it and press on!

Your back is without a doubt a vital part to your body.  It affects your lumbar, posture, nervous system.  It attaches the brain and the tail bone.  The back is important to the leader’s anatomy and must be protected at all cost.  TheSuccessfulLeader blog wants you to get “back” to what you love to do and are passionate about-Leading!

-Dustin Carr

http://www.thesuccessfulleader.wordpress.com

Like my blog on Facebook and Twitter, and share it with those that you know that could use some encouragement as a leader.  Thank you!

“No Guts, No Glory!”

“Who am I kiddin’? I ain’t even in the guy’s league…It don’t matter, ’cause I was nobody before…I was nobody. That don’t matter either, ya know…It really don’t matter if I lose this fight. It really don’t matter if this guy opens my head, either. ‘Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed. And if I can go that distance, ya see, and that bell rings, ya know, and I’m still standin’, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life, ya see, that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.” 

-Rocky Balboa

Rocky is without a question one of the greatest movie series of all time.  I mean, what is there not to love about a small-town underdog competing with big league boxers, overcoming great odds, and marrying the woman of his dreams?  We all can quote the movie, we love to run upstairs and throw our hands up and start shadow boxing like the Italian Stallion, and all of us guys can quote the scenes where Rocky is trying to woo Adrianne with his savvy Italian accent and goofy little sayings.

The left-hander seemed to have it all, but what made him so great was the fact he had guts!  When you think of the Anatomy of a Leader, you cannot bypass the fact that every great leader has guts.

It is almost like this meme I seen the other day, “I was cut from a different cloth, and they don’t make my fabric anymore.”  Have you ever met people like Rocky that were cut from a different cloth?  Every generation has them, every age group has their rising star, every industry has their genius, every army has their general, and every family has their patriarch or matriarch. These stars outshines the rest of the pack, they stand head above shoulders to their peers.  They saw differently, spoke differently, acted differently, but most of all they had the guts to lead their generation.  Let me give you a few points that will hopefully inspire you to be a successful leader.

 1.) Be Willing to Start at the Bottom

Rocky Balboa is a fictional character, but gives a true representation of all the great leaders that we have come to know and love.  He was just another kid, scrapping his way around town and trying to make his mark on life.  It takes guts to step into the ring each day and battle your way to the top!

Starting at the bottom is awesome!  I see three things that gives me optimism with starting from the bottom:

  • There is room for advancement
  • There is so much knowledge to gain
  • It teaches you work ethic and perspective

My mom worked at McDonald’s, and she decided she wanted to make more money, so she got into the management program at McDonald’s. And that’s how you move up the chain. It’s not by demanding that minimum wage is raised; it’s by actually acquiring the skills. That’s the way that people get ahead in life.   -Raul Labrador

It takes guts to start at the bottom and work your tail off to rise to the top!  I do not know where I saw this from, but our generation complains about $8 an hour when our grandparents seen it as opportunity in their day.  I love that!

Rocky rose to the top!  He worked to the top!  He bled to the top!  And when you rise to the top this way, you feel humbled, yet you feel like you belong there.

2.)  Be Willing to Rise to the Top

My mind goes back thirteen years ago, as a young man starting in the preventive maintenance industry vacuuming cars and cleaning their windows.  I never thought of being anything other than that.  A few short years after starting with the company, I became the assistant manager and then a year or two later I rose to the top management position.  

Drawing from my own experience I can give you a few things that assisted me in rising to the top.

  • I worked my butt off– As a courtesy technician I worked my tail off.  We were doing to 35 to 45 cars a day and I was working 54 to 58 hrs a week.  Every position I took, I strove to be the best.  Do not wait for luck to come your way, prove yourself and create your own luck.
  • I wanted to learn–  I wasn’t satisfied with just doing courtesy.  I wanted to know every position in the building and be the best at every position.  When I became management, I made a ton of mistakes but I bought every book, watched every video to help me maximize my effectiveness.  Now, later in my life I decided to go to school for business management to rise to the next level.
  • I was never satisfied–  I am never satisfied where my team is.  I want to always drive for records.  I always want to maximize my team’s efficiency.  I want to take our team to whole new heights.

It takes guts to rise to the top.  The ascent to the top is full of obstacles and setbacks, and it means having guts of steel to make it to the highest summit.

3.)  Take Others With You

Never forget that when you climb the summit all by yourself you are only risking your own life.  That is the safest way to go.  When you get to the top by yourself, you alone get all the glory.  That is the selfish way to go.

climbers on everest

It is when you take others with you and you invest in people that you take the greatest risks.  It takes guts to invest in others.

John C. Maxwell said it best, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”

The leader trains, they communicate, they cast a vision, and they bear the load so that their team shines in the end, so when it is all said in done the leader can say, “We did it together!”

Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.

-Chris Hadfield

Conclusion

This is no doubt my most important blog yet.   Do you have the guts it takes to be a true leader?  To train harder, work harder, risk more, shine less, and be the leader that you need to be to make a difference.  Never be satisfied and get the guts it takes to make it!