Have you ever listened to someone describe a very tough time in their lives?
I mean, really listened. Intently.
See if this rings a bell. You are listening to a man who is describing being in the introductory phase of being indoctrinated into the military. The term is “boot camp”. He talks about how grueling it was. What changes he had to go through. What challenges he had to face. What friends he made. How tough the Drill Sergeant was. If you are paying close attention, you would have noticed that perhaps the brutal details of his experience were slowly being expressed as a beautiful memorable experience.
You are listening to a woman who starts telling you what she had to do when first going to medical school to become a doctor. She begins by talking about the new schedule, the tougher classes, the harder examinations, the professors, some she liked and some she didn’t, the friends she made and the highlights. This is usually prefaced by the words “there was this one time”.
It’s interesting how thin the line is between brutal and beautiful where reality is concerned.
In leadership, many times you will always be faced with one constant. Facing and acting upon reality. Reality, which at the time may seem tough and brutal, but when reflected upon may become priceless and beautiful to you. The primary mode of operation in facing reality is trying to process the current status of a company or situation as it truly is, and not merely how we wish it were.
This is not easy.
Since we all have paradigms we use to process situations and events around us, it’s tricky to really engage into the reality of the situation. Think about it. If we were better in this area, we would always make better decisions and have better results. In a lot of instances, we are more proficient at contingencies than we are at prevention. If we could assess reality at a better rate, we would focus on preventative measures to make sure we didn’t get into situations we don’t want to be in. For most us, we have to formulate contingency plans, because once we have faced the reality of a situation, we have to make changes to push it back in the direction we want it to go.
As leaders, we must do our best to encourage people to see things as they really are. Not the way we wish they were and not the way we think they should be. Our first assessment must be the way they actually are.
Most of the mistakes I’ve made in leadership were directly connected to the inability to face a situation in its reality and then take decisive action on it.
Two simple steps:
Not hoping. Not waiting for a better idea. Not continually re-thinking it over and over.
Defining and acting.
If you define and act quickly, you have better chances to compete and win, especially in an ever-changing environment. Stick your head in the sand and lose. Most everyone will know you are losing except you.
Always face the brutal or beautiful reality. If you avoid reality, you are destined for failure.
Act on reality fast. Once you get it, why wait one more second? Adapt your strategies to reflect the reality and turn up trust and speed.
Reality can be brutal when you take time to consider it and frame it properly. It can be beautiful to you once you have faced it, overcome it and enjoyed the results of it.