In Change, Leaders

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

A consistent theme I hear from leaders these days is how difficult it is to make decisions.  We’re living in a world that’s quite different from anything most of us have experienced before.  People are different, customer expectations are different, there have been two years of crazy global health issues, supply chains are messed up – the list just keeps going.

Most of those leaders who are talking about how difficult it is to make decisions in today’s world follow those sentiments with something about not knowing how good they had it in the past, or a complaint about the government, or a broad generalization about how young people are horrible and lazy.  There’s a huge sense of frustration, combined with exhaustion, combined with a desire for things to come easier.

There are a handful of leaders, though, who are thinking differently.  Recently, one leader told me how exciting this all was, and how glad he was to have to face some of the challenges that we are all currently facing.  He said that he thought he had the opportunity to learn more over the next five years than he had over the previous twenty.

His point was that because everything is new and different and unfamiliar, he had an almost unlimited opportunity to grow.  Think about that.  Is that your attitude?  When you look at the things you’re dealing with right now as a leader, are you excited because you have such a huge opportunity to learn?  Or are you down in the dumps because it seems hard?

There is absolutely no growth in life unless we get out of our comfort zones.  It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about personal growth, professional growth, whatever.  If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.  If it’s easy, you’re not growing.  If you never have butterflies in your stomach, you’re not growing.

As a leader, you have a responsibility to embrace discomfort.  Part of your role is to make sure your organization grows and progresses and improves, and none of that happens if you’re comfortable.  If your attitude is that you want to be comfortable, then your entire organization will have that attitude.  Organizations and their people tend to take on the mindset of the leaders, and if comfort is your goal, it’ll be everybody else’s too.

Embrace the fact that this is difficult.  Look at all those challenges and barriers as opportunities to get better.  You only get better by playing good competition, and right now many of us are facing some pretty tough opponents.  Be grateful for that, and be excited about the struggle.

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