A couple of weeks ago, I had one of those days where everything I touched seemed to go wrong. I dropped things, broke something and knocked something over full of water that went everywhere. Nothing seemed to go right. Even when I attempted to bake a cake, I put too much sugar in the recipe, but persisted anyway, only for the cake to rise too quickly and then come crashing back down resulting in a massive chasm left in the middle of a cake. Disaster! My mood reflected the cake too!
My plan for dinner was to roast a chicken that for whatever reason I’d never done before. I didn’t hold out much hope for this chook and was tempted to head out and buy one given my track record that day. However, I decided I would give it a go anyway and see how we went. Miraculously, it was a success. Perfectly cooked, juicy and with the best roast potatoes ever, even if I do say so myself! At least the disaster day finished on a high.
Of course, the words ‘disaster’ and stating everything went wrong is a gross exaggeration and blown way out of proportion but it was certainly how I felt at the time. It was my reality at that moment and I lost perspective of what my true reality is.
This did remind me of how we can feel in business and as a leader sometimes. When everything you do and every approach you make seems to fall flat or go terribly wrong. When you put your best foot forward only to trip over or feel like you are banging your head against a brick wall. It could be with a pitch you’ve invested so much effort into only to be rejected. When you empower your team only to be let down when you lose one of your best staff despite your best efforts to retain them, when people speak badly of you even though you know you’ve made the right decision for them and the business. It can feel like you’re in a no-win situation and you can feel terribly defeated.
That can be your reality at that moment, but once you get perspective, your true reality is very different.
Once I chose to get out of my funk and reflected on my day, it was overall a great day. The sun was shining, I enjoyed a gorgeous walk with the warmth of the sun on my back, I spent time at home, which I love, and my chook was a great success! There was so much to be grateful for. Yes, things went wrong but if I looked hard enough, the positives outweighed the negative. That is our challenge as leaders, to find the true perspective when things feel very crowded, the chips are down and the noise is deafening.
This can be the times when a business development decision doesn’t go your way, or a team member is acting out, or a conversation didn’t go as you’d wanted it to or the P&L isn’t reflecting the figures you need it to. Sometimes, it can be all of this occurring at the same time. However, there are always things happening around you that are positive too. Always. You just need to look for them and put things into perspective. By doing this, you empower yourself to continue, to push forward and do what you need to do as a leader.
‘A leader acts as they must, not as they feel’. That’s what differentiates true leaders from those that want to be – self-awareness, emotional intelligence and an attitude to keep on keeping on when things get tough. We need these leaders.