My family enjoys hiking. Sometimes we conquer larger mountains, other times we settle to summit a small hill. One hike in Gatlinburg, TN proved to be especially challenging for my oldest child.
Initially our trek was going well. Not sure about you, but I gauge "going well" by how much or how little complaining there is from my girls! This day, they were both feeling good.
Around an hour into a 4 mile hike we happen upon a group of hikers coming down the mountain who obviously did not enjoy their trip. One of the more negative of the bunch says to us, "Good luck, it's another 2 hours until you are at the top!" Those words were our turning point. Shelby looked at me with a face that said, "What!?!? I am done Dad!" My daughter emotionally checked out and I secretly hoped a bear would find those negative hikers a bit further down the trail.
Shelby was overwhelmed with the reality of how difficult our journey was going to be. We pressed on a little further, but ended up abandoning our hike and retreating back down the mountain.
Difficulties, obstacles, rough terrain and complexities can overwhelm us. Perhaps you have faced one. Perhaps you are facing one right now. In these moments we have a few options: We can quit, we can stay stuck where we are, or we can keep going in the face of a problem. No matter what you are facing, personal or professional, I believe you should keep going.
Here are 4 practices to help you press on in the face of adversity.
Get off the crazy train.
I heard another leader share those words recently and it stuck with me. Often I find myself reacting emotionally to an issue instead of responding maturely. When dealing with difficult or complex issues, our first step should be finding an emotional balance. This post will help you determine if emotional over-reactions is one of your leadership weak spots?
Repeat this to yourself: Do not be an emotional roller coaster. Go ahead...you can say it as many times as necessary. Your team needs you to be balanced. Your family needs you to be stable. You need you to be at peace. This is not about shutting feelings down, rather about being bigger than your feelings. Effective leaders have a grip on their emotions rather than emotions having a grip on them.
Develop some grit.
Our team has been using this concept of "grit" to describe that inner toughness needed when facing leadership hurdles. The decision to lead is the invitation of adversity. It is in these moments we tap into grit. Tough people always outlast tough circumstances. Tough terrain molds tough people.
Accept the challenge to increase your commitment level. There is a difference between "I kinda want this" and "nothing can stop this." If the task was easy, anyone would do it. The task is tough, but you can be tough too. Do not quit. Do not buckle. Step up, toughen up and face this moment with grit.
Form a plan, fine-tune the plan and follow the plan.
One thing that keeps us on the "crazy train" too long is the absence of a plan. When faced with a challenging issue or project train yourself to slow down enough to create a plan. You will have to adjust along the way, but follow your plan.
Some situations require quick action. Planning does not negate speed. That is a common misconception. Especially in adverse moments, you need to plan just your first few steps. Do not wait until you have 10% of the plan formed, that is too late. Plans should be an incremental, step by step, easy to start and easy to adjust. The enormity of the task ahead of you can be paralyzing…so just take the first step…do the next right thing.
Take one step at a time.
You can't do everything at once but you can do one thing at once. Complexities can overwhelm to the point of the paralysis. The way to break out of this is to take one step. One step is the difference between being stuck or making progress.
I heard a statement recently saying, "It’s a big elephant, I’m gonna eat it one bite at a time." You don’t lose 40 pounds one day, you lose 1 pound over 40 days in a row. A person overcoming an addiction doesn't need to focus on fighting the battle everyday for the rest of their life, they just need to fight it today. A leader does not build a high-level team overnight, greatness demands time.
Our time on the mountain that day was cut short. Adversity wants to diminish the impact of your life. Implement these ideas into your approach and see yourself rise above even the most complex struggles!
Keep Leading Bravely!