I used to commit to only having two favourite leadership qualities; but over time a third deserves recognition and comment. Determination (or persistence). Leadership is the thing that inspires us to be more than we currently are, to get to where we are not now.
Things get tough
Grand visions and inspirational speeches are good. From my own military aviator experience, a comprehensive, detailed and professional briefing is essential before a mission, see my Mission Command post. However, when the journey has begun the reality can be intimidating. The weather can be worse than anticipated, the enemy may be more aggressive or plentiful than intelligence informed, the very activity can be exhausting. And what about failure? What about the times things just don’t go as planned?
Don’t give up
This is where lesser mortals give up, return to mediocrity and craft plentiful excuses as to why it wasn’t meant to be. However, for leaders the prize is still to be attained, the mission is still to be completed. This is where determination kicks in – a rounding up of all available resilience to see the mission accomplished and the goal achieved. We are inspired when we hear of great triumphs through adversity…and I believe it is in our DNA to go further than we thought was possible.
If you’re a leader but you’re thinking of giving up then here are some people who’ve trod that path before you:
- As a young man, Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a private. Afterwards, he was a failure as a businessman. As a lawyer in Springfield, he was too impractical and temperamental to be a success. He turned to politics and was defeated in his first try for the legislature, again defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for congress, defeated in his application to be commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854, defeated in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and defeated in the senatorial election of 1858. At about that time, he wrote in a letter to a friend, “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth.”
- Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
- “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot … and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”
~ Michael Jordan
And if you need some help with this, someone to be accountable to or just some great coaching to be the leader you want to be then give me a call.