You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
In the past two articles we talked about PERCEPTION and ACTION. First you look at an event as something that happened, the facts, removing as much as you can about the story, the interpretation you add to the event. Then you decide what the next best step is to take. You move into action rather than stay stuck in problem admiration.
This article is part 3 in Ryan Holiday’s great book, The Obstacle is the Way. It is about WILL. What do we do after our adrenalin is depleted, but the obstacle still remains? How do we continue our way through, around, or over the barrier between us and our goal?
Since I haven’t finished the book yet, here is my disclaimer. Holiday inspired me with the three elements of “turning trials into triumph” – Perception, Action, and Will. The examples are mine, so don’t blame Holiday!
We all have that moment when we have hit the wall. When we had an amazing dream or goal or desire. We gave it everything we had. And it wasn’t enough to get us over the finish line. Then what?
I was at a conference and one of the exercises they had us do was to go rock climbing in a gym. Sounded safe. I’m no skinny chick, but I was very athletic growing up so I thought, “What the heck? I can do this! It doesn’t look so tall!” And the first time I climbed it, I surprised myself with my ability to haul myself up the wall! I was very proud of myself! I’d conquered the wall!
But then. Then she had us climb the same wall blindfolded. Now, we had just done it. I knew I could do it. And yet. Adding the element of not being able to see where my next move would be, calculating distances and strength needed, felt debilitating! Everyone around me was young and fit and scrambled up the wall like it was nothing. A walk in the park!
Finally, my turn came and I looked up at the wall, that all of a sudden seemed 10 times higher than it did earlier. I made a mental note of the first few steps and hand holds I would take. I closed my eyes and put on my blinders. And I took that first step.
Slowly, rock by rock, handhold by handhold, I made my way up the rock wall. The whole way I’m having this raging argument in my head. “You are insane! What in the world are you doing? That little boy holding the other end of this rope will be jerked off his feet if you fall! And fall you will!”
“No, he is simply there to give me reassurance. I don’t need him. I have already done this. I can do this.”
“You are one crazy lady. You’re old, fat, no strength and you have to be at least 100 feet up in the air holding on to these little bitty rocks. Look at that, your hand is trembling. There is no way you will be able to continue! You. Are. Going. To. Fail!”
And I stopped. I pictured myself hanging for dear life onto this wall. How would I get down? Was I going to fall? My legs and my hands were literally shaking with exhaustion. It felt like forever – allowing this debate to rage in my head while my body shook.
Then. I said, “Thank you. But I’ve got this.” My Inner Critic just wanted me to be safe. I did not want to be safe. I wanted to soar. I wanted to prove I could do more than my tired body thought it could. I wanted to be strong.
And so. I went on.
And I discovered I was literally one rock away from the top.
If I had let that fear, that need for safety, that obstacle in my head win, I would have lost by one more handhold.
How many times do we stop one step short of the goal because we can’t see it?
I willed myself to be strong. To remember my goal. To step out in faith. And I succeeded in overcoming the fear! I have used that example so many times in my life as an entrepreneur, to spur myself on. To take the next step even though I wasn’t sure where the money would come from. Even though I didn’t know if I could get a client. Even though I don’t know if my business will survive through this time.
What I do know is that I have proven to myself over and over and over that I am strong enough. My dreams are big enough. My drive is powerful enough. My heart is loving enough. I. Can. Win. Even if I fail, I fail forward. Even if I fall, I get back up again. Even if I can’t see that last step, I know it exists.
So I have the will to carry on.
And so do you.
What is Your Triumph Story?
What can you tell yourself when you get down, afraid, feel at the mercy of people and things? What do you say to kick your will into gear?
That is the true sign of a leader. One who looks at all of their people staring at them, pleading with them to keep the company alive. A true leader says, “Ok, just one more step. I can take just one more step. We can take just one more step.” And all of a sudden, you look up and you are there.
Here’s to all the courageous leaders who take the interpretations out of the facts and look at the event for what it is. Then decides on a course of action, even if there has to be a lot of little course corrections along the way. And acts on that first step, having the courage, the tenacity, the stick-to-it-iveness that pushes you even when you are tired, can not see the end, want to quit. But you don’t.
Here’s to those who have perspective, take action, and have the will to carry them to the end … and bring others along with you.
Here’s to you, courageous leader!