In Change, Leaders

“Comfort makes you weaker. We need some variability, some stressors. Not too much, but just enough.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

One of the comments I’ve heard from a few leaders lately is that they wish they could just go back to February, when things were “easy”. I would guess most people have had that thought at some point over the past 6 months. Compared to some of what we’re dealing with now, early 2020 sounds like a vacation.

The first problem with that statement is that back in early 2020 I don’t remember people talking about how easy it was. The reality is that it’s never easy. The challenges change, and some of our current challenges (hello global pandemic!) are ones that we haven’t dealt with before. But if it wasn’t that, it would be something else – maybe a complete collapse of the real estate market and nearly the entire financial system, or the dot com bubble, or any number of company-specific stressors we’ve each dealt with over the years.

The second problem with that statement is the attitude it suggests. I’ll preface this by saying that obviously I don’t consider a global pandemic to be a good thing. People have suffered, people have died, and right now there doesn’t seem to be an end on the horizon. Those are terrible things and no one can argue they are not.

However, what is your attitude about the current situation? Do you see it as entirely awful with no potential for any good? Do you see it as something to hide from until it passes? Or do you see it as an opportunity for growth, both for you as a leader and for your organization?

The reality is that we only grow when we are uncomfortable. We might not like it, we might wish it wasn’t happening, but in our current environment, we can’t avoid the discomfort. What we can do is choose to make the most from it we possibly can.

Think about the challenges you’ve faced over the past 6 months. Think about how you’ve managed them. Think about the decisions you’ve made. What have you learned from all of that? What can you apply going forward? What can you change about how you operate as a leader? What can you change about your business?

You don’t need to be happy about the current state of world affairs, but you can choose how you respond to it. You can recognize that in the midst of stress is opportunity for growth, and you can make the most of that opportunity. You can allow 2020 to be one big black cloud, or you can work on creating some silver linings. The point is that it’s your choice, so make it. Then get to work.

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