Resilience is a good trait, not just in leadership, but for every walk of life.
As I made my way past Necessary Endings (last week) I came across this book by Gordon MacDonald. I had picked it up at a leadership conference the year before, almost exactly at the time that I realized I was not functioning at my best. All the speakers spoke with clarity and depth, but MacDonald spoke with a sense of wisdom and warmth that I am sure was heard by all in attendance. His focus was on the vocational pastor after retirement, but the message was geared towards all of us: Transition and growth no matter what stage you are at.
Resilience is one of those things that you spend your whole life preparing for, but not sure if you have it when you need it.
I have since blogged about resilience, reviewed a book for a friend on the subject, and learned from others on how to restore it. When we are weakened, when vision is lost, and when we lose our sense of identity to the work around us, we are being challenged in our resilience. A few old words that were at one time used to describe the character of leadership, speak directly to learning resilience.
Fortitude… Standing firm when we are going through trials.
Steadfastness… Being faithful regardless of the circumstances.
When we learn resilience, these things are put to the test. In fact, you might say we never truly understand them until we are tested. And that is where resilience is born. I remember distinctly reading this book and saying from time to time: How does he know this about me? The reality is that all leaders – all people – fall at times into places where they need to be reminded why they are who they are, and why they do what they do.
The very idea of seeing only the immediate struggle and losing sight of the larger plan was very real to me. I allowed so many voices and inner turmoil to be accepted overtake the purpose for which I was in my position. As was revealed to me, the long game was missing; I could only see the steps before me. His story is based on learning from his coach in the day of his youth, who taught him the power of resilience as a runner. Learning to live and train for the distance was imperative, and so it is for all of us.
If you rely on the things within you that can just get you by in certain moments, you may be in for a surprise. The very idea of training as though you will be running until you are in the grave still seems distant to me. But it makes sense. When we view the trajectory of our lives, it can seem overwhelming, but the reality is that we are always in a place of building resilience. Why? Because even in tough times and when we feel most winded, the race is not over.
How disciplined is your path to resilience? A resilient life is based on ‘running strong’, not the sprint to the next hiding place. Discipline in life prepares us for how we will handle the moments we did not plan for, and may not have imagined them coming. But resilience is found in the training and growth we set ourselves to coming up to the true challenges. Forgiveness and gratitude are a large part of this process of preparing for the long run, both things I could preach on, but needed to reconsider as part of my path to being whole and free.
The alternative is being swayed and toppled in the moments of disparity. We cannot choose the hardship, but we can choose the path to resilience
Let me know how I can help you on your path to resilience… Let’s Talk!