Hard Questions

hardquestionsSelf deception in adversity is easy. Just like marriage, trouble demands only one thing – authenticity. The less authentic you are, the deeper you get into the mess. At some point, you must put aside your fake self and face the real you. I’ve learned to ask myself the hard questions whenever I’m faced with trouble.

What was your role in creating the mess? Where did you miss it? Did you say inappropriate words? Were you impatient? Were you disrespectful? Were you ignorant? Did you have the wrong attitude or approach?

I discovered that the hard questions produce the best answers and can shorten the time spent in trouble. Also, you attain clarity and move forward faster.

There’s an African proverb that says, “The man who asks questions will never miss his way”. Adversity is life pushing for the real you. It makes you assess why you do what you do. If you co-operate with the process, the results are truly amazing.

Never Alone

neveralone4Have you seen the movie, The Best Man Holiday? It was my favorite movie this past holiday season. Great picture! It had one clear message: it is unwise to go through life’s struggles alone. Find someone, a pet…anybody. It really helps.

Interestingly, they showed how men need a support system just as much as women. Traditionally, men go into their ‘caves’ to deal with their issues, and then come out to face the world. Well, now if you’re to effectively deal with a ‘hangover’, you need a ‘wolf pack’.

Doing life’s journey alone can be a sad experience. For one, it’s not cool to be tied to your own view alone. Life’s freshness lies in the mingling of perspectives. Others see what you do not see…that’s very sexy!

Each one of us bears a mystery to life that no one else possesses. Our uniqueness makes us worthwhile, especially in adversity. Trouble meets its match when we come together.

Also, you have someone to lift you up when you’re low; someone to tell you the truth about you when you’re blinded by the mess.

The Learner

learning3Adversity isn’t cute. We’ve all heard words like, “what does not kill you makes you stronger”. This sounds nice on paper, but we rarely remember such words in a mess. We just want it over with.

Honestly, when I’m going through trouble, optimism is the last thing on my mind. All I want to do is learn. I don’t sit around chanting that everything is going to be alright. However, if I’m able to find the lessons and learn them, then I’m convinced that all will be well.

Adversity is designed to shift our perspective. Junk food is great until the doctor announces that you’re ill, and then you start thinking carrots. Or, you get fired and then the entrepreneurship spirit kicks in. Trouble comes for a reason and I always want to know why.

Learning mode works best for me in trouble; I learn quickly. Adversity is university. You find yourself seated in the class of life…and boy! You better take notes. You’re supposed to get off trouble smarter than you got in. If that’s not the case, then what’s the point?

The Storm

thestorm2Katrina is a lady that’s made her mark in history. When she hit Louisiana in August 2005, the effect was significant and life altering for many. She came in a rage. Also, she went. That’s what I find interesting. Every storm passes.

I’m yet to hear about a hurricane that hit an area and lasted forever. Every storm is designed to end, even the one you’re currently going through right now.

I look back on my journey and recall some storms that I encountered. I thought they would never end. Even amidst all the ‘stay positive’ talk, I just didn’t see it at the time. I was too deep in the mess to dance with cheerleaders. I felt there was nothing to smile about.

Fast forward – and here I am, calmly writing about a time when calm was pure luxury. I’m even smiling.

Every storm ends. Life is full of them, but now I know better. Katrina came and went…they always go. If you’re going through a storm, remember the ancient saying, “this too shall pass”.

The Gap 2.0

reality3Watching five seasons of Grey’s Anatomy alone will not make you a qualified surgeon. Likewise, the fact that you have information doesn’t mean you’ve changed.

In certain areas, there’s a major gap between who you are and what you know. This is very important in leadership.

To succeed in leadership, you must sharpen your senses to be able to detect where people really are compared to the information that they possess. Sometimes, it’s the difference between success and failure.

In my journey, I’ve met people that have mastered ‘the talk’. They are skilled at sounding right, but further interaction reveals that they have no clue of what they’re talking about. It’s all just – talk.

You are not yet all that you know. Admit it.

I’m now quick to admit what I can and cannot do. It saves you the stress of getting into agreements based on capacities that you do not possess.

What I know and have not attained, I’m growing to become. I work daily to close the gaps, but I only transact based on who I am. That way, I can easily deliver.

The Gap

thegap2Frustration is the difference between desire and capacity.

At 14, I wanted a red Porsche Carrera 911 – badly. I didn’t care about my age, I just wanted the car. Guess what? I didn’t get it. Why? I didn’t have the financial or emotional capacity to handle such a luxury item albeit my desire.

Dreamers easily fall into this trap. Sometimes, they spend so much time on the flowery ecstasy of their desires and forget the tough job of building capacity. I would have been a proud owner of a Porsche car if my capacity matched my desire.

This is the trick

First decide what you want, and then proceed to building the capacity required to make it happen.

Muhammad Ali (The Greatest) decided to become a World Heavy Weight Boxing Champion and started waking up early to run 6 miles daily. The basketball icon, Michael Jordan, showed similar commitment; he would practice for five hours, five days a week during off season.

Dreams come true when pursued intelligently. You can get what you what if you’re able to close the gap.

Imperfectly Perfect

imperfectlyperfect2

Breaking News!

The era of the perfect leader is over.

The traditional notion of leadership has been the upright character with no visible flaws, impeccable record and ultimately a moral compass. These individuals are designed to show no cracks and we are not to see them break a sweat.

It’s different now.

By age 25, the average leader has been through enough changes to last nine lifetimes. Hence, s/he is no stranger to the zone called complicated. Life is not black or white and decisions are not simple. Flaws are glaring and perfection is nowhere in sight.

In all that mess, this new leader is required to show up at work and lead effectively. This is the new reality.

Leadership principles still apply, but the challenge is that it makes little sense to the new leader. They’re yet to figure out how to grow into these ideals.

There is hope.

The world still needs leaders and this new crew is up to the task. However, in order to help them, we must first acknowledge their reality. Being pressed for time, they have to be trained to lead as they grow.