Finding Your Greatest Contribution
The worst thing in life is recurring frustration that could be avoided.
In life, everyone repeats until they learn.
Your greatest contributions are the answers you find while navigating tough times – storms.
The storm has an answer you haven’t found yet.
- Celebrate storms. Resist and you’ll repeat. All leaders navigate rough seas. Fighting storms drains energy that could be used to navigate them.
- Go below deck and reflect on your journey. Reflect or repeat. If you don’t reflect you’ll encounter this storm again.
- Do you have a feeling that you’ve been here before? Have you encountered similar storms?
- What is there about you, that invited this storm to return?
- What have you learned from past storms?
- How are you better because of previous storms? Worse?
- Climb the mast and look around. Reject the inclination to close up and pull back.
- Explain the situation to a trusted advisor. There’s power in talking about it.
- What does it look like to successfully navigate this storm?
- Who do you want to be?
- What’s the worst/best that could happen?
- Listen to the person who says what you don’t want to hear. How might they be right?
- Choose a forward-facing course. The worst thing you can do in a storm is nothing.
Cling to curiosity when the seas are rough.
Sometimes we cause our own storms.
- Spending more time fixing weaknesses than maximizing strengths.
- Not standing up for your values. It’s better to be in a storm caused by standing up for your values, than to suffer because you compromised.
- Ignoring feedback.
- Letting yourself off easy.
- Neglecting responsibilities.
- Blaming rather than owning.
- Acting independently with a closed mind.
The way you navigate storms expresses and forms your greatest contribution to the world.
How might leaders successfully navigate storms?
What lessons have you learned in storms?
Yes. This one got printed. I have been weathering a long storm and it is time to start reflecting on the journey. Thanks for the great questions coach.
Thanks Perspect… We all need someone to throw us a rope and pull us up out of the weeds once in a while. 🙂 Best for the journey.
Dan as a CFO, I dealt with several firm threatening crises in both private and public companies. My overall approach became to:
1. Face the true reality of how bad things were but mostly how bad they could get
2. Explore all your strategic or financial options often with advisors
3. Learn the unique rules, terms and techniques of each crisis. Even money problems come in different forms
But most of all I learned a lesson from the Flying Wallendas. When you are on a Crisis high wire, focus all your energy on getting to the other side. If you focus just on not failing or falling, you often will!
A very good topic.
Brad James http://www.bradszootales.com
Thanks Brad. Wonderful addition to the conversation. Face the “true” reality. I think we spend too much time wishing things were different.
Also, the Flying Wallendas illustration is a real nugget. I’m using that one.
You may appreciate this video for your research on the the Wallendas.
It was years ago when I heard this message in person and have never forgotten the illustrations about focus and moving forward.
Two things, Dan…
“Listen to the person who says what you don’t want to hear. How might they be right?” This one is so tough, but so right on. Sometimes we think we have all the right answers, even in the storms. The quicker we embrace the fact that we don’t, the quicker we’ll embrace the wisdom of others.
And second…”Blaming rather than owning.” This one not only causes our own storms, but it keeps us in them. When we identify and own our weaknesses, mistakes, shortcomings, not only are we showing our vulnerability, but we gain respect as we press on to overcome those.
I think it helps tremendously to be prepared, to know storms are inevitable, to embrace them rather than reject them. There is no growth without struggle. And don’t we all want to grow as leaders?
Thanks Beth. Written like someone who has navigated a few storms. 🙂
I hadn’t thought of the dual application of “blaming rather than owning” … I like it when an idea grows.
Between you and I, I hate it when others are right… 😉
Great post Dan. Love your style and the content. It is a fresh breath of inspiration everyday.
Thanks Thomas. Because of twitter, I feel like I know you. Thanks for the encouragement. Keep up the great work.
I agree with an earlier comment. I’m printing this post! Storms are tough and it takes time to reflect and unravel all the components in order to determine a new path forward.
Thanks Rita. You hint at another impart success factor. It might be difficult, but, give yourself time.
Dan, your storm analogy of what often faces leadership is excellent, and even better is how to celebrate rather than fight it. Since you mentioned frustration and self-inflicted storms, I think most leadership storms are more “mind” than “matter.”
A few blogs ago, Annacarole and SGT Steve responded to your post “Lousy Leaders.” Their basic contention was in reference to a “post-modern leadership environment “ that seems to be changing from character values and a focus on people values–to “a new leadership without [contribution or character] purpose.” Their insights have much to do with your post today.
For example, many leaders do not recall what qualities got them to where they are: What are we “not” doing today that we did to get us where we are?
We’ve all experienced and even overcome storms of life and work. As we think back to our beginnings and recall who we were, what qualities we used, what inspired our energies, what shaped our character, what made us come alive, why we wished to succeed, and what we promised ourselves we would and would not do when we became decision-makers—we take inventory of our assets and we recall what we worried about back then turned out all right and our mental angst and frustrations were a waste of fruitless energy.
And the points Annacarole and SGT Steve indirectly made is the best preparation for good work tomorrow is do good work today. Think back to beginnings…to a time when we were on fire. Life was amazing, we were rockin’ it. All was good, and often great because of inner growth and contribution. Let’s recall what thoughts, behaviors and practices we used to engage ourselves in our beginning, but for some mysterious reason, have fallen by the wayside. What were we doing when we were MOST on—even in times of storms and adversity?
Thanks Books. Your introduction of going back to past behaviors and attitudes is important. Drift is easy. We forget the fundamentals, then we get into trouble.
I find the seduction of current success and opportunity has a way of “helping” us forget what we are all about.
Good morning Books;
I am humbled by the accolades and appreciate the kind comments.
Hope you have a ‘Great’ weekend!
i do for the people and put out the truth!
Quoting: “The storm has an answer you haven’t found yet.” We must be ever mindful that there as an optimum answer (likely not correct – wouldn’t know if it was) IF we are willing to do our best in terms of effort. Because it is a ‘storm’, there will be some false starts / mistakes; learn from them and move on!!!
A little more than half of the storms that happen in people’s lives are self-inflicted storms, in my opinion. Regardless of how they come about, any storm is bad. Thankfully, however, if you know how to avoid creating your own storms, you can save yourself a lot of headaches–and save your team from a lot of grief.
Failure and rough times always hold the greatest lessons. Agreed! Nice post. http://www.mkpalmore.com