The meeting in the room was getting tense. At some point I knew it was going to overflow. In my mind there were repeated replays of meetings where I had lost the plot! Today I was calm and observant. The difference between being the individual in charge and, in this case, playing a supporting role was stress relieving. I had little to risk with failure. There were ways I could help. There were also ways I could make things worse. The leaders in the room were not so lucky. They had to deal with whatever happened.
As I watched and wondered about the emotions and actions on display, I considered the advice I would give if asked. Using my many failures as reference points to idealistic principles and truths as my starting points, reminders that I would offer include the following.
Great leaders carry a quiet humbleness about them. The best figure out how to recognize and acknowledge their weaknesses while working to compensate for them. As strong as many are, they know they are incapable of doing everything that is needed.
Great leaders recognize when they fail. In my experience, the actions of those closest to you have an express track to one’s heart. It is as if I am replaying an old Biblical character response to his people, when, “because they defied God yet again, Moses exploded and lost his temper.” (Psalm 106.33)
Individuals have an opportunity to take the ideas of leaders to a better place. Risks are opportunities. Problems are gateways. Uncertainties are doors. Everything that is potentially difficult or a risk can be seen and used as a way to engage to in a collaborative way to lift themselves and others to a better place.
As I watched I realized my message to any leader, myself included, would be the same. The real threat is within. Recognize, embrace, and do something with that threat and you will find yourself in the doorway to opportunities you never realized were within your reach. This challenge has and continues to be my elephant.