Nothing last forever – not even our troubles. – Arnold H. Glasow
In Bits & Pieces, a story is shared about Somerset Maugham, the English writer who once wrote a story about a janitor at St. Peter’s Church in London. One day a young vicar discovered that the janitor was illiterate and fired him. Jobless, the man invested his meager savings in a tiny tobacco shop, where he prospered, bought another, expanded, and ended up with a chain of tobacco stores worth several hundred thousand dollars.
One day the man’s banker said, “You’ve done well for an illiterate, but where would you be if you could read and write?” “Well,” replied the man, “I’d be janitor of St. Peter’s Church in Neville Square.”
As a leader you will face troubles. In fact, you will probably have more. How you handle the pressures and troubles of life is crucial to your leadership. The truth is no one is immune from troubles, stress, and the pressures that either affect performance at work, or is the source of it at home.
As a leader how you confront those obstacles is what will elevate you as a leader and can be a source of inspiration for those you lead. The choices you make in facing your troubles will define your leadership. Here are three observations to consider.
The troubles that discourage you. The troubles that discourage you are not uncommon. These come as a result of the rough and tumble world in which you live. They come about as a result of the pressures of work: a deal that didn’t come through, earnings expectations that came up short, low morale, petty office squabbling, etc. These issues and more are things that tend to wear you down and take the edge off of your performance.
Discouragement sets in when you allow these things to shape an unhealthy attitude. Dale Carnegie said, “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” This is great advice to consider going forward. How you see and how you react to the troubles you face will make all the difference. When you choose a good attitude you are in a position to emerge from your troubles stronger and more successful.
The troubles that deny you. The troubles that deny you are those that have a way of getting under your skin and preventing you from being the leader you are meant to be. They are caused by a variety of external factors that eventually take their toll and deny you of the joys of leading and serving. Even the best of leaders are not exempt from the grueling daily demands that eventually wear you down.
Unfortunately, some leaders have to learn the hard way that they are not Superman and that at times their setbacks are self-inflicted. Troubles will only deny you if you allow it. The attitudes you choose and your responses to adversity will demote you or promote you. Troubles will reward you or deny you. The choice is yours.
The troubles that develop you. Every leader faces trouble and every leader will have setbacks. The important thing to remember is that those troubles do not define you; they develop you. Many “famous failures” have overcome great adversity and chose not to be defined by their troubles.
Despite the criticism from a newspaper editor for lacking ideas, Walt Disney succeeded anyway. Although he struck out 1,300 times Babe Ruth is a Hall of Fame baseball legend. He was rejected by the US Military and Naval Academies due to poor eyesight, but everyone remembers President Harry S. Truman. As a boy his teacher told him that he was too stupid to learn, but Thomas Edison proved the teacher wrong. This household name dropped out of high school and applied to attend film school three times but was unsuccessful due to his C grade average- but Steven Spielberg has been entertaining us for years.
As a leader you will face troubles. But they do not have to define you. When armed with the right attitude and perspective your troubles can promote you to something far greater than you could have ever imagined.
© 2013 Doug Dickerson