In his bestselling business book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about the importance of tenacity and humility in Level 5 Leaders—two qualities that help anyone survive in the face of chaos. We all know how our lives can turn upside down with no warning, leaving us confused and doubting a positive outcome. During chaotic times how do you stay focused on critical priorities and keep moving forward? Can you maintain focus when the world seems out of control and you see your plans disintegrate in front of you?
I recently worked with an executive who lost his job when the organization changed direction. As if that unexpected transition wasn’t enough, his wife of 24 years told him she wanted a divorce and out of the house immediately. In a relatively short time, his world was upended. He felt defeated and that everything he had worked so hard for was lost. At the time, he couldn’t imagine what he could possibly do to make it through each day, and wondered if he would ever regain a sense of control and success in his life.
While most people do not watch their lives fall apart frame by frame as if they had stepped into a horror or science fiction film, each of us has had to face a situation that changed the path we’d been on. What can you do to keep focused when life’s distractions want to pull you off course? Whether you’re currently caught in a transition or not, the following steps are important to staying grounded.
- Take care of your physical well-being. Are you eating, sleeping and working out?
- Manage your thinking! It is easy to get caught up in what’s wrong—how will you build the discipline to stop the negativity and remind yourself of the good in your life even if it seems very small or distant at the moment?
- Return to basics. Remember what your reasons are for getting you up in the morning and keep you going even on the toughest day. Do you have a clear sense of purpose in your life that expands beyond your job?
- Identify the top 2-3 people you can trust and ask for their support. How do you ensure you are getting the emotional and mental support from people you trust and who care about you?
- If you are a person of faith, recommit yourself. What do you do that keeps you feeling spiritually connected?
By tending to these five key areas, you’ll build the foundation to navigate the toughest of situations and come out of your challenge a stronger and more compassionate person.
My client is now successfully working in a new company with a much greater appreciation for the challenges others face. He has more confidence in his ability—and a better perspective when little things go wrong. As a result of his own experience, he developed greater humility and appreciation for others that he didn’t possess before his life began to unravel. He is also better at leading people because he has lost some of his judgmental attitude toward others. His chaos provided an opportunity for personal growth has made him a better leader—and one who is certainly more tenacious and more humble.
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