The word ‘Endurance’ conjures up visions of great hardship – extreme climate, extreme terrain, triathlons, expeditions and army boot camps. Rightfully so as the very definition of the word in the Cambridge Dictionary is “the ability to keep doing something difficult, unpleasant, or painful for a long time”.
However, as everyone knows, the need for endurance isn’t limited to the choice of journeys one may undertake intermittently or the select challenges one chooses to overcome. It’s a daily requirement in our lives, irrespective of choice. Routines of daily life often described as ‘the daily grind’, beg the question whether we are consciously building endurance to embrace what the world has in store for us or are passive participants tossed about on the waves of change.
So how do great leaders build endurance? As the new world order is one with no order, no rules and no guarantees, leaders must prepare themselves and their teams for the unknown. Here are a few ways you can develop a willingness to face the uncertain, a resilience to meet it head on and the courage to outlast the challenges along the way.
- Accept The Uncertain: As all leaders know, difficulties are inevitable and the question is not if we will face them, but how we choose to respond. It’s critical to both expect and accept success and hardship along the way. Positive leaders see an opportunity in every crisis – they demonstrate an eagerness to see what lies beyond the next curve in the path and prepare their organizations for the same. They approach life and work with a sense of balance and realistic optimism.
- Flex Your Muscle: When you exercise your physical, mental and moral muscles frequently, they function better, faster and smoother when required. Athletes training for ultra-endurance events know, that their success is more in the preparation that precedes the actual race itself. Like safety drills test the preparedness of your plans against multiple variables, they also instil a level of confidence among staff in their organization as a whole. Leaders who have refused to remain complacent in good times, who keep pushing themselves and their teams to remain watchful, agile and lean are the ones that stay in the race.
- Bite Size Goals: While keeping an eye on the destination is important, focusing on the next step is critical. Breaking up the largest challenges into small, achievable tasks ironically act as small distractions along the long journey ahead. Leaders play a critical role in making their teams believe in the ability to win. A real captain will be able to steer his / her ship through the worst storms only if the crew truly believe they can overcome the challenges they face through a disciplined focus on each of their roles.
- Persistence: Leadership is never easy – it requires physical stamina, emotional intelligence and an unwavering moral compass to be a great leader. The leader who in the face of crushing defeat finds the strength to stand up, dust off and get going again is likely to gain both the respect of his team as well as the prize. The ability to show up and keep trying, no matter what, is a quality that many great leaders possess. “The quality of continuing for a long time” is how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Endurance; it could well be defining persistence.
- The Larger Good: Ultimately the greatest driving force in an enduring leader remains their belief in their own role in the universe. Understanding how their lives or their business can be a force for good and articulating how this translates in daily life will make a positive difference in the world. It is their stories that endure the passage of time and of changing world values, stories that inspire and awaken people to work towards a better future for all of us.