SUCCEED THROUGH PERSISTENCE

“I don’t think I can make it!” 

I used to take my family to a Christian family camp every year. Horn Creek is located in the Sangra DeCristo mountain range just above the city of Westcliffe, CO, and just below Horn Creek mountain. Throughout the years, I would hear stories and recounts of people hiking to various caves, gold and silver mines, and a WWII plane crash. Understanding all of these stories made me want to go and explore. However, the idea of hiking down to the plane crash intrigued me more than anything. I had read the history of the crash and saw the guns and other items in a small museum in town. I was told the aircraft was left as it was except for the crew remains and the weapons. 

“Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent”

STEVE MARTIN

I told my wife I was going to go check it out. She encouraged me to go but said it would be difficult due to my physical condition. I convinced her I could do it. I have a neurological disease called Char-Cot-Marie-Tooth. The lack of nerve and muscle stimulation causes atrophy in my hands and feet, creating a loss of strength, balance, and foot drop.

One morning, a couple of friends and I decided to hike down to the wreckage. The journey down was difficult, and I fell a few times, trip all the time, but I made it and enjoyed looking around and checking things out. But then, we had to start back up. 

I never imagined the journey would be so difficult. About a third of the way up, I couldn’t go anymore. I couldn’t feel my legs, my heart rate was way up, and the altitude took away my breath. I told one of my friends,

I don’t think I can make it, call a rescue helicopter to come to get me.” 

I wanted to give up. My body was begging me to stop, and my mind wished to follow suit. But I persisted and I made it to the top—lungs, and heart intact. Everyone clapped and hugged me! What made me continue to go and achieve my goal? Persistence.

During the COVID-19 crisis, leaders have become stretched beyond their knowledge and capabilities. All levels of leadership are experiencing this. As I continue working with leadership in these difficult times, I’ve seen some high-level leaders fail and watched other leaders persist through the challenges. 

So how does one persist through the challenges? Well, I identified six things I did to maintain my persistence to the top of the mountain. In thinking through each one, I realized these could certainly help increase a leader’s persistence in a challenging and stressful time.

Here are the six things that helped me keep going t when everything in me wanted to quit. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to give up, refer back to these, and I believe they can help you.

Ignore everyone

“Energy and persistence conquer all things”

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

At the beginning of the climb, I saw all my friends climbing with ease. Every time I saw someone hiking with ease, I felt terrible about myself. But when I stopped worrying about what others were doing and focused on my persistence to achieve my goal, I began to focus on my mission and how I was going to make it. When leading in difficult times, you need every ounce of energy to persist through the challenges. Focus your efforts on what matters.

You are your biggest supporter

I’m going to make you so proud”

NOTE TO SELF

When I started the hike, I was hanging with everyone. However, within 15 minutes, I was far behind and alone. At first, I was frustrated; my friends abandoned me, but then I realized my burden wasn’t for anyone else to bear. Eventually, one of my friends realized I was not doing well and came to check on me. He encouraged me to persist through this. That motivated me to turn inward and find the strength and determination to keep going. I began to encourage myself with every step. Leading in challenging times means that sometimes you have to hike alone. If you find yourself in that position, find a way to persist through it by encouraging yourself and realizing you had past achievements and will have future success.

Stop and appreciate the little things

The little things matter in life. Appreciate everything you see, hear and experience.

DENIS BAKER

I remember as I was climbing up the mountain, I would have to stop often to catch my breath. When I was standing there, I began to notice how the wreckage spread out alongside the mountain, and the field was a lot larger than I thought. As I continued in my persistence, I kept getting glimpses of the beauty all around. In those moments, I gave no thought to my struggle. In these challenging times, persistence will increase your confidence and leadership ability. Focus on the journey to the finish line. Embrace new experiences and welcome the struggles and challenges.

Focus on the next step

Remember that our persistence today creates reality for tomorrow.

Denis Baker

On my climb back up the mountain, I would get discouraged when I would see how far away I was from the top. I realized that if I persisted through the struggles, I would make it to the top! When we face difficult challenges, we can struggle with the thought of eliminating anything the impossible, which opens the door for resistance to creep in. By persisting through difficulties, you can keep build momentum and achieve success. Remember that our persistence today creates reality for tomorrow.

Stop looking for a way out

“The easy way out usually leads back in”

PETER SENGE

I wanted a helicopter to get me out of there! I couldn’t go anymore; I didn’t have the strength. I even asked one of the guys to carry my fat body out. When you are suffering, or in pain, it is easy to want to make it go away. But when you persist through the pain and struggles, you will overcome and set yourself up for long-term growth.

Recognize your limitations

“Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits”

UNKNOWN

I had to be honest with myself. I was in pain, couldn’t breathe, and didn’t have the same strength in my legs as everyone else. I was pushing my body to the limit. My approach needed to change. After realizing I would not keep up with everyone and that I was going to make it to the top a long time after everyone else got up there. I realized through my persistence; I would make it to the top. Your leadership process might not look like everyone else’s, and that’s OK. We all lead differently. Instead, maintain your persistence, and you will see success.

SUMMARY

As we continue through this crisis, there will continue to be many challenges, difficulties, and a bunch of bumps and bruises along the way. When the journey becomes more uncomfortable than what you are used to, it can be easy to throw in the towel and retreat. But if of persist through the challenges, you can find the strength to keep going, and will discover the reward was worth the effort.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

ENDURING THE HARD TIMES

Thank God for the tough times. They are the reason you are there – to be the leader. If everything were going well, the people wouldn’t need you.”

JOHN MAXWELL

Last week was exhausting. I didn’t say it was terrible, but it was difficult. You know when you have one of those weeks where you get knocked down, get back up, only to be knocked down again? Well, that was me last week.

Being a Health and Safety Professional during the COVID-19 crisis is pushing every button and pulling every last string I have. Every day consist of multiple virtual conversations, meetings, and phone calls. Last week I made decisions that were contradicted; I issued a process that had many grammatical errors. And I gave people advice that was off from our company position. But one thing I can admit, is through my ability to endure and be patient, I was able to overcome my difficult week.

But on a practical level, where did I build the endurance and patience I needed to get through last week? As a leader, I look to grow my leadership capability in many ways, whether reading books, taking on challenges, creating leadership classes, or merely writing my blog. However, I base my leadership foundation on the Word of God. With this knowledge base, I can persevere through difficult challenges and difficult times.

Last week brought me to consider this bible verse. Colossians 1:11: 

11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have high endurance and patience,….

This verse gave me the answer I needed to get through last week: God’s power produces endurance and patience within us. 

What I found is endurance and patience will empower leaders:

WHEN CONFLICT ARISES

WHEN DIFFICULTY ARISES

WHEN CHALLENGES BECOME IMPOSSIBLE

WHEN A CRISIS OR TRAGEDY STRIKES

WHEN THE TEAM LOSES HOPE

A weak or passive leader would fail in everyone one of these situations. During difficult times, people want leaders who can endure the worse conditions and who patiently employ faith and grit.

If you are afraid to fail, you will never do the things you are capable of doing.

JOHN WOODEN

We are in a time where many friends, families, and colleagues are dealing with difficulties beyond measure. As leaders, we need to step up and encouraging them to endure patiently.

Will next week be better? I don’t know, but I am going to continue to patiently endure through what ever happens. By doing this, I will increase my influence and become a more effective leader creating a higher morale with those I lead. YOU CAN DO THE SAME.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

CHURCHILL LED WITH COURAGE IN A CRISIS, SO CAN YOU

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point.”

C.S. Lewis

On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became the prime minister of Great Britain in a time known as “Britain’s darkest hour.” The former prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, had tried to reason with Adolph Hitler, but he failed. Europe lay devastated before the German Wehrmacht. Nothing could stop the onslaught of the Germans racing across France. At last, in desperation, the British parliament turned to the aging Churchill. Many British people had already resigned themselves to defeat. But, in a series of speeches, Churchill roused the nation. In one of his most famous speeches, he declared,

“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches; we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

WINSTON CHURCHILL

We know how this story ends. Britain and its Allies stood up to the “fury and might” of the enemy and defeated the Germans.

In an ideal business world, we don’t face great life-and-death crises, as Churchill did. But in this current COVID-19 crisis, I think many, if not all, businesses, are facing a similar situation as Great Britain and as a result, leaders are in a similar situation to Churchill.

As we continue in this current crisis, it is critical leaders dare to make the most difficult decisions in their lifetime. Until Britain faced its greatest crisis, its citizens did not feel the need for Churchill. But when they had nowhere else to turn, they finally placed their hope in him. Occupying a corner office does not take courage. But facing the COVID-19 crisis requires every ounce of a leader’s courage. The problem is many in leadership positions suffer from an acute absence of courage. A successful leader’s tenacity to tackle their most significant issues must include courage. 

Churchill said it best;

Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

WINSTON CHURCHILL

I recently completed a John Maxwell course on courage and identified 4 of the most significant benefits of having courage. John had several benefits he listed, but I feel these four benefits will encourage you to build your courage.

COURAGE IS FEAR

Writing this article put me in a position to define the word courage. In my search for a distinct, yet reality-based definition, I found a quote from Nelson Mandela that explains it best:

 “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

NELSON MANDELA

In other words, courage is not an emotion (like fear); it’s a practice—an act of will. Courage is what we demonstrate when we feel scared about taking bold action but do it anyway.

As with my Peloton bike workouts, the more I practice courage in the face of fear, the stronger I become, which will prepare for even bigger crisis down the road. Courage is crucial to our leadership because the more courage we show courage, the more influence we have. 

COURAGE ENABLES YOU TO MAXIMIZE THE POTENTIAL IN YOU AND OTHERS

Leadership requires courage. You cannot lead unless you find a way of developing and generating courage in yourself and then “encouraging” others.

COURAGE LETS YOU BE HEARD

William Brown said, “People don’t follow titles, they follow courage.” When people increase their courage, others are more willing to listen and act. 

COURAGE PROPELS YOU TO REINVENT YOURSELF AS OFTEN AS NEEDED

You have the power to leave the familiar In a time of crisis, Leadership is not for the fearful, it requires courage.

The best words to sum up my intent is through the words of Thomas Edison’s during his last public message delivered during the depths of the Great Depression:

Be courageous! I have lived a long time. I have seen history repeat itself again and again. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has come out stronger and more prosperous. Be as brave as your  fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!”

THOMAS EDISON

YOU WILL PAY A PRICE WHEN LEADING IN A CRISIS

“Great leaders are never stress-free,struggle-free, or failure-free.”

UNKNOWN

There is always a cost to leadership. When leading in this time of crisis, leaders must step up more than ever. However, the price of leadership will be much higher. Leading in a crisis is like a car engine, if you ramp up the RPM’s past the red line for too long, you are probably going to blow the engine. For many, ramping up our leadership means working longer hours, engaging in stressful situations along with making tough decisions. I know this can be hard and raise your anxiety, but you are what your people need NOW! 

So how can you lead in this crisis and maintain the sanity needed to be successful? 

Lean on the wise

If you think everything depends on you, then I believe you own too much of the burden. Maybe you ultimately have the full responsibility for the outcome, but that doesn’t mean that you must operate alone. Reach out and seek advice from those you trust and admire. We all have a mentor or two that can give you information and provide ideas and suggestions.  

Vent to those you trust

Leaders in high-stress situations need to talk to people outside their circumstances. As the pressure increases and the anxiety mounts, conversations with a trusted friend, counselor, or coach will help you reduce stress, anxiety, and regain a clear perspective on the situation. The result of doing this, is renewed energy and a drive to attack what’s ahead.

Increase your physical wellness

We think of stress primarily in emotional terms, but it has a significant physical component as well. Rather than getting less sleep because you’re so busy, make it a priority to get more sleep. The same is true for physical exercise—running, swimming, biking, etc. My wife and I purchased a Peloton bike in November. The investment in this bike has been the best thing ever in reducing our anxiety and building up my mental and physical strength. This has resulted in my ability to maintain the energy required to make difficult decisions and address difficult situations. 

Elevate your spiritual well-being

The most significant power for leading in chaotic times comes from above. It is tempting to spend less time reading the bible or praying when there are so many demands for our time. However, these practices are crucial to gain the wisdom, perspective, and peace that we desperately need. Remember the words of Martin Luther:

“I have so much to do that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.”

MARTIN LUTHER

I doubt I have said anything you don’t already know that many of you could add more information to clarify my knowledge. Still, as I continue to deal with the current crisis and cope with the extreme change in life and work, I am looking for ways to recharge and re-evaluate my self and improve my leadership. I hope this will help you do the same.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

LEADING PEOPLE IN A TIME OF CRISIS

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading today.”

Abraham Lincoln

The world is in unequaled times with the COVID-19 crisis. The history of the world has experienced many different types of crises throughout the ages. But, anyone reading this blog has never experienced what we are going through now.

The current worldwide situation has poured out anxiety, worry, and uncertainty. I’ve heard John Maxwell say, “there are no two consecutive good days in the life of a leader.” Admittedly, that statement got your attention. Think about the day before your organization enacted the “Crisis Management Team” or began developing policies and procedures that shook up and changed everything you’ve were doing. What was the day like before that?. Maybe you accomplished several goals, perhaps you made the most substantial sell of your career, or were promoted! I’m sure you and your significant other or family enjoyed a beautiful sunny day where enjoyed a great dinner, or maybe you got pizza and ice cream for the family.

There are no two consecutive good days in the life of a leader.”

John Maxwell

Then you wake up the next morning and – BAM, everything you know has been turned upside down, and you are put in a position to lead through a crisis! We are all in it now.

As you grow in your leadership, you are given more responsibility, and that responsibility results in you facing more challenging and demanding decisions. Those decisions may be cut and dry, but in this current crisis, I would expect many leaders are experiencing the most difficult decisions in their LIFE! The most influential leaders in the world are put in situations where they are being advised of many new and unknown situations and conditions and are being forced to make decisions that affect the lives of people and the future of business and society!

The truth about leadership is it does not exist for the leader, but the led.

Denis Baker

The truth about leadership is it does not exist for the leader, but the led. Leaders are principally unnecessary in times of peace and tranquility. In those cases, a manager will suffice. But when people face a seemingly insurmountable problem or crisis, they instinctively look to leaders to lead the way. John Maxwell says, “a leader is one that knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.” True leaders are those who can move people from where they are to where they need to be. They are problem solvers and help people see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So how should we lead in frightening times?

  1. Be visible. When times are challenging, leaders need to be seen and felt. It’s not the time to retreat and try to figure things out behind closed doors. You must put yourself forward as someone that people can talk to or turn to when their fears overwhelm. People want a leader that knows where they are going and shows them how to get there.
  2. Make the horror concrete. Abraham Lincoln said, “A leader must make whatever horror exists concrete. Only then will people be able to break it apart.”. Max Dupree said, “the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”—that means acknowledging what’s going on around us. WE cannot lead through a crisis if we’re unwilling to recognize people are scared, or that the situation is frightful.
  3. Brighten the mood.  Point beyond the fear to a brighter day. Remind people of what the Psalmist said: “Nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.” Leaders must communicate to their people the hope on the other side of the situation.
  4. Be cautious with predictions, but lead the path forward. Don’t communicate an ending or way that won’t take place. When leading people, look beyond the crisis, but don’t predict exactly how things will work out. The simple truth is you don’t know, and that’s okay. You’re not a predictor of the future, but rather an examiner of the current times.  People don’t expect you to know the future but get them there. Clear communication will give people the energy and hope to engage in the necessary activities. 

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”

Max Dupree

We are in a time desperate for strong leadership. Government, businesses, churches, and families are all facing huge problems that only influential leaders can take on. If there was ever a time for your leadership to make a lasting contribution, it is NOW!

Will you rise to the challenge?

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.