“The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in.” – George Washington
Carrying the weight of the world while keeping it to yourself is not fun.
Maintaining composure when all the world seems to be crashing all around you is a lesson I am certain many people in leadership are unfortunately facing today.
Let’s face it, on one hand, you have the reality in which you face in what seems to be insurmountable circumstances and yet… those that work for you are needed to be focused not on pending doom, but complete all out victory.
How much of your hand do you play? And when do you play it?
When faced with such circumstances in my experience, it can be real easy to feel isolated and alone. In this, I found solace in this quote from George Washington.
In it, I was reminded that I was not the first and only person in the history of the world to feel this way. I was also reminded that which we now know to be true… he made it through and found a way.
Understanding this allows me to reposition my posture to that of confidence and not that of timidity. It allows me to focus with clarity on the strategy needed to march triumphantly through the landscape that beckons my passage.
It can be a surreal experience when placed into a leadership role where you are the tipping point. The pressure is intense and when left to carry it alone, by your own making, has the power to unleash the characteristics of hell into your life. Someway and somehow, you must find a way to fight back and tip the scales towards the hands of providence.
With all eyes viewing your every move, people are relying on your ability to lead, inspire, and cast vision for a better day. All the while, your insides ring with not the bell of liberty, but that of despair.
It was in those times that I drew my eyes upon a painting that hung on my wall. I never spoke much about it, it just hung there. It was the famous painting of George Washington praying at Valley Forge.
It was in the long cold winter of 1777-78 as all alone, Washington knelt down and prayed.
In this, I found my posture. In this, I found my ability to lead, inspire, and cast vision for a better day.
My long cold winter was in early 2005 after given control of some badly bleeding companies. It should have been the best of times and yet, I knew the reality of that which we faced.
I knew all eyes were on me, but it wasn’t those eyes that mattered as much as it was where I was placing mine. My eyes were frozen on that which stood before me. It was only when I decided to look Up, did the mountains before me begin to recede into the valleys below.
Certainly the eyes of the many mattered, but, we must realize, it is that which is seen in our eyes, that they are looking for that mattered.
Do they see the reflection of mountains tall and wide from the perspective of the base or that of a reflection only seen from the summit?
Don’t be fooled, they see it. Do you?
A place firmly planted in a future only obtained by the triumphant passage of that which we now face is a place attainable, but to get there, one needs to know that they are not alone and are not called to go it alone, either.
How do we expect to pass through this valley and scale these mountains when our workforce, who is constantly fearful of losing their jobs is crying out for someone to lead them?
I don’t think status quo was an option for Washington.
We need leaders, not managers if we are going to break through this malaise that has fallen upon us.
My moment came when I myself realized that the dire situation we faced called out not for a manager, but a leader.
I didn’t set out for this role, I was thrust into it.
Maybe that is part of the problem we face today? Those in leadership that set out for it, need to act like those who were thrust into it. Those who were thrust into it, must believe that perhaps they… were meant for it.
Which are you?
- Lessons from Valley Forge-NEVER GIVE UP (howardjhales.wordpress.com)