4 Realities of Leadership Few People Talk About

My Dad taught me a lot.

In many ways he had a natural ability to teach.  Slow, methodical, caring.

But there was one thing Dad taught me that was not easy for either of us.  He was close to pawning me off to another family the day he taught me to drive a stick shift.

That day was supposed to be a step towards manhood for me. As I struggled and bounced that little red Toyota truck all over the parking lot we were in, my Dad may have rightfully considered trading me in for a better model of son!

By the end of a couple hours Dad was discouraged, in need of a chiropractor and we could both smell the clutch on the truck starting to burn. Should I even have to clarify that it did not go well?

Years later I asked Dad about that day.  With such grace he said, "Son, I didn't care if you ever learned how to drive that truck, all I cared about was getting my tail out of there!"  Such compassion!

While he eventually did teach me how to drive, Dad's statement illustrated an unspoken issue leaders face. When we are thrust into the leadership landscape we are often left to discover some important truths on our own.

While some of this is life, some of it is also unfair.  Today I want to unpack a few essentials that most leaders do not talk about. While they often go undiscussed, these truths are always felt.  

Leadership is hard.

Whoever said being a leader is easy has obviously never been a leader. Making tough decisions, dealing with difficult personalities, intense pressure, managing problems and never having a quitting time are just a sample of the obstacles leaders face.

Difficult circumstances cause many leaders to quit. Giving up is the kryptonite of many. Start developing grit and toughness now, you're going to need it. Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. There are hard days and decisions ahead of you. Do not quit. Resolve to do what is right above what is easy.

Leadership is thrilling.

Being a leader is like riding a roller coaster. There are ups, downs, feelings of fear, times you wish the ride would end and occasional moments when you feel like you may hurl! Instead of viewing this as a negative, embrace the adventure of it. Leadership is a thrill ride.

I love doing things that get my blood pumping. Surfing, mountain climbing, bouldering and (very soon) hang gliding! Adventure thrills me. Just like any thrill, there is a bit of fear involved. Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. Seize fear instead of allowing it to seize you. The positive side of fear is it offers you the opportunity to overcome something!  Overcome fear and lean into the thrill of leading.

Leadership is a grind.

Leaders show up every day. There will be days when you feel in the zone, everything clicks for you. Conversely, some days come down to showing up when you do not feel like it. More often than not being a leader is grinding out mundane day-to-day issues. Commit to the grunt work of leadership

Consistency counts. The process is rarely sexy or cool. Greatness is found in the shadows of faithfulness rather than the spotlight of fame. Show up tomorrow and give yourself to the grind.

Leadership is worth it.

A leader does not simply perform a job, she answers a deeper calling. The work you put in matters. You are making a difference. You may not see the fruit of your work right now, but the best results take time to materialize. Keep going. Push harder. Don't stop. It is worth it.

If you are struggling today, stay in the game. Own these truths and know your work counts. When I face difficult moments as a leader I focus less on tasks and more on people. People are the end game of leadership. To help you stay focused, put yourself in a place to serve those you lead. People matter. People are why you lead. Serving people remind you that leadership is worth it.

Stay in the game.

Keep leading bravely.

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