Just when I thought I was hitting my stride and had planned an exciting training year, after a month of training, I pulled my sciatica in my right leg and lower back. This made it difficult to relax during my trip to Charleston. My travels turned into visits to chiropractors, a couple of stretching sessions with Charlie at a gym, and massages to relieve the pain that did not want to go away.
Training had to be put aside this February and this happening while watching some of the Winter Olympics . I felt like my training was getting reset at ground zero. Last year I had recovered from a fall, this year it was my back.
1. Inner Strength
If you listen really carefully to the stories of the Winter Olympic athletes, in between the lines are all these recovery stories - accidents that were followed by months and years of physical therapy. Some of the athletes perform with injuries not fully healed while others, after tremendous recovery efforts, are healed and winning medals. Sports training is not for the faint of heart and neither is leadership.
2. The Brass Ring
One of my mentors always says to me, “Leaders must be aware that when they say yes to the brass ring, it means saying yes to everything it will entail and some of it may not be easy.”
Many leaders strive for the next promotion or the next stretch assignment. They may have a vision of what they feel they could do or accomplish, but they may not be aware of everything that new position or stretch assignment may entail. Leaders are surprised by the need for influence and/or politics after stepping into a new position. They are also surprised by how some colleagues may treat them differently. And they may not be ready for the challenges in accomplishing their vision.
Leaders and athletes need to be ready for everything their roles entail and especially for the unexpected.
Another version of this may be leaders who get demoted or get a new supervisor with whom it’s much more difficult to work. There is no prescribed way to move forward in one’s career, and sometimes the desires and challenges are not coming from within but come from unexpected events: leaders might inherit new employees when they step into a new position or else report to a new supervisor themselves; reorganizations happen; changes in the market or products may require new skills or create opportunities or challenges. One never knows what tomorrow may bring. Skills needed today from leaders are agility and flexibility as well as resilience.
4 Looking to the Future
Many of the clients I work with are looking at the future with questions about changes in their organizations, in leadership as well as their own trajectory. As I am writing this I am looking at the future with hopeful eyes and questions. Will I be able to do my 4-day trek in the Grand Canyon in April? Will I recover in time for the 4.4 Chesapeake bay swim in June?
I think of all the athletes who had a chance to go to the Olympics but could not because of injury or setbacks. I’ve had to cultivate patience, courage, persistence, and resilience the last month, and I know many of my clients as well as athletes going through changes have had to summon the same competencies. These competencies are essential to continuing the journey towards success.
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