To Lead: Manage, Reframe and Relish Reality
We often tend to conceptualize our circumstances and direction as either static or linear.
We either think "this will never change." Or if we do expect change, we think it will be a clean linear progression (up and to the right, of course).
When reality indubitably deals us a different hand from our static or linear expectations we’re shocked. We find ourselves disappointed, or disenchanted, feeling deeply the gap between reality and our expectations. Our plans are almost always built on our static or linear assumptions.
In the (probably) over-quoted words of Mike Tyson,
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Word, Mike. Word.
[Our static sobbings]
“It’s just not the same as it used to be.”
“We’ve changed so much..."
“Welp, this isn’t how we did it in the past..."
[Our linear lamentations]
“According to our 80 page business plan, we should have been growing 15% year over year. What happened?"
“This time last year we were generating twice the amount of leads we are now."
“I changed the copy on my site and expected to grow the amount of [insert vanity metric here] by at least ____. That’s what that infographic promised me. Ugh."
Manage, reframe, and relish to lead.
To expect things to always be the same, or alternatively to progress, scale or grow at a fixed predictable rate sets us up for disillusionment. It will only distract us from doing the work which needs to be done. As leaders we need to manage and reframe our expectations to expect and prepare ourselves for the reality that this is not reality.
We must learn to relish the reality of our smallness. To care deeply but hold loosely to the work at hand, because tomorrow it may all change, usually due to factors beyond our control. It will likely take us places we never expected, but it is our choice on what and how we learn from this flux.
Coveted badges of leadership
Next time you catch one on the chin—discovering the gap between reality and the static/linear expectations you didn’t even know you had—smile and remember this unpredictable journey is the gauntlet which produces the coveted badges of leadership like grit and perseverance and steadfastness. It is the very thing which, depending on how you choose to frame it, learn from it, and move forward, can lay the very foundation on which leadership is built.
Success is never static, and never up and to the right. Plan accordingly.
Onward Brave Ones.
*NOTE: as far as I can tell you won't avoid getting knocked in the mouth, but if your putting yourself out there continually you will surely learn how to respond in a much quicker, efficient, powerful way. Instead of should-haves or what-ifs or if-onlys, just keep pushing higher up and deeper in. As this guy I know from the internet once encouraged me: “[It] gets better over time, especially as some footholds start working out. Keep clogging along."