If you start listing off some of the greatest and successful leaders from history, there are a few names which will almost always make the list. One of which is Winston Churchill. He was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, he led his country during trying times in World War II and many of his speeches are some of the most quoted of all time. One friend of mine can quote off paragraph after paragraph of some of Churchill’s dissertations. Even though he did come from a prominent family, Winston Churchill faced personal obstacles, two of which were especially detrimental to him in his pursuit of greatness.
One was a speech impediment. Since he was a small child, he had a pronounced lisp and he really never did conquer it. What he did do is become confident enough to speak in public and over the radio. One tactic he employed was the use of false teeth that were designed to help him lessen his speech imperfections and make him more clearly spoken and understandable. He crafted his speeches in order to avoid words he had trouble with and to enhance his clarity and not over expose his speaking weaknesses.
The second obstacle was what he tagged his “Black Dog.” Throughout his life, Churchill was victim to terrible fits of clinical depression, particularly during stressful times. Early in his career, he suffered significant defeats during the first world war which threw him into a depressed state. Even with this issue, he was able to recover and put those types of feelings aside and work through them without being medicated, believing what he was doing with his life was more significant and important than his own mental stability and health.
It’s amazing to me that he became one of the most noted and famous inspirational speakers of all time and was able to help his country withstand a terrible onslaught by Hitler’s forces and eventually turn the tide with America’s help to be victorious even though his speech was hampered and his mood was always subject to attack.
What personal obstacles are you facing?
Whatever they are, I am sure they are real and damaging. Sometimes I believe that your own personal challenges were designed specifically for you as an attack on your success. That’s why they are personal obstacles and challenges; it’s very personal. Even though that is the reality of the situation you are facing, there are answers and strategies to help you deal with them and persevere. Churchill had false teeth made to helped him, he only spoke words he could use well.
There are also answers for you regarding your personal obstacles but it’s going to take some courage on your part to locate and utilize them.
Your own personal challenges were designed specifically for you as an attack on your success
First is acknowledgement. You must be truthful with yourself that you have some limitations and challenges. Denial is always where we get stuck in the mud. Once you are real with yourself about whatever it is, you can now begin to at least get some traction toward a solution to dealing with it. Churchill didn’t try to pretend it didn’t exist or tell everyone to just deal with him as he was.
Second, find some positives about yourself for balance. If you have some personal obstacles, you also have some personal strengths. Try to tap into them and refine them. Make them stronger.
Third, change the story you are telling yourself. If you see yourself as a victim of the obstacles, then you have placed yourself into a powerless position. Churchill never did that, he saw what he needed to accomplish as more powerful than his limitations. He told himself that story all the time until it became reality. If we are going to be the star of our story, we might as well have a story that empowers us, not the other way around.
Fourth, start journaling. Get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and separate yourself from the impact of your experiences. Engage your conscious brain and reduce the effects of your subconscious system.
Fifth, get as much positive support as possible. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you but not pull you down toward your negatives. If you get the right people, they will know the difference.
What positive steps could you take toward reducing the effects of your personal limitations or obstacles?
For more resources from Tony Richards, sign up for his Monday Morning Coaching Memo.