So here I am in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida, spending a few days getting my head together by camping and kayaking in lovely Anastasia State Park. Only the weather is nasty, there's a serious wind blowing in off the ocean, it is raining sideways, and the temperature has dropped enough to be less than comfortable.
I'm not complaining though. There are things to be done, like a long overdue post to FHZ to talk about things like this. Things like going out of your way to do something, having plans, and being thrown a whole different set of circumstances just after you have put your mind to doing whatever it is you planned on doing.
Leaders must be resilient. Leaders can not, for whatever reason, throw their hands up in the air and say, "Okay, things have changed, we can't do anything about it, pack it in, let's go home". The difference between leaders and the rest of the mere mortals is that when we are faced with adversity, we roll with it. We adapt. We come up with a solution. Or we at least try to look like we know what we are doing, if anything, to provide confidence to those around us, and maybe one of them will pull us out of the situation.
I have constant frustration with "officers" who have a problem and their first course of action is…? If you guessed, "Call the Battalion Chief", you nailed it. Fortunately my esteemed officers know better. But there are others. But my point is that leaders see challenges as just that. Faced with a changing set of circumstances, they pull things together, they make a sarcastic or funny remark to lighten up the mood, and they pull forward, only this time, harder, to show everyone THIS is the way forward.
In one of my favorite books of all time, "Gates of Fire", Steven Pressfield tells a story about the Spartans trying to decide how to fortify the pass at Thermopylae by building a wall. The engineers are arguing the wall should be sloped to slow the advancing Persians and to provide a better tactical advantage. Others argue that the wall should have other aspects to create a better killing field. While they are arguing, someone looks over and cries out: Impatient, Leonidas, the Spartan King, is picking up a boulder, carrying it to where the wall should be, and putting it down.
When faced with a situation different than what you anticipated, face it down. Leaders do not permit obstacles to be placed in their way. They see them, understand them, and overcome them. They appreciate what resources are necessary to overtake them and they apply the resources appropriately and effectively. When faced with a problem, don't complain about it, fix it. Create circumstances that you control and never let the circumstances control you.
Also on Firehouse Zen …
- Don’t Raise Your Voice Unless You Are Willing To Raise Your Fists – March 31, 2012
- Leadership That Matters, Part 20 – June 25, 2012
- Merry Christmas – A Call to Lead – December 19, 2011
- Children – April 8, 2013