I love Greece. One of my favorite mental pictures that I like to recall is from an evening dinner on a roof top restaurant overlooking the Acropolis. Looking at the architectural masterpiece blanketed by the soft glow of the moon along with accents made with floodlights. This special place gave birth to art, theatre, government and social principles. Greece has endured. One of the great battles in military history took place in Thermopylae; where a drastically outnumbered Greek army of less than 2,000 men, led by King Leonidas from Sparta, held the Persian horde of more than 300,000 under the command of Xerxes, for more than 3 days. They endured.
Endurance Is A Significant Part of the DNA of Leadership
The Greek word hypomonen translates to endurance and is described as the quality that enables a person to stay on his or her feet when facing a storm. We are expected as leaders, to face the storm or challenge head on, stand up to adversity, don’t wilt under pressure. I was struck by guidance offered to simply “stay on your feet”. Endurance is not the final step to the summit of a mountain. Rather it is exhibited by each step of the journey, each becoming more difficult as fatigue grows and oxygen diminishes.
Leaders are charged with the somewhat seemingly bipolar task of focusing attention on the long term vision of the desired goal and direction of the team while at the same time, keeping everyone on their feet, attention to detail, and monitoring mundane steps required for a successful outcome. When the storms at work or home come barreling upon us, understandably our instinct is to get out of the way by focusing on something else, procrastinate, or sometimes simply move in another direction. Endurance is staying on our feet, which requires standing firm and staying balanced.
Rory Vaden, a self discipline strategist and one of the best talents of the National Speakers Association, shares a message in his keynote address titled Taking the Stairs. He spoke of the difference between cattle and buffalo while facing storms as they cross the peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. As the storm approaches, the cattle begin to run from it, as a desperate attempt to get away from the force and pressure. The buffalo on the other hand, turn their face toward the wind, rain and snow and walk straight into it. The outcome is the cattle end up moving with the storm, and actually increase the length of time they are enveloped by the battle. The buffalo minimize the experience by taking the storm head-on and letting it pass them by.
Leaders must recognize that to endure is not to absorb punishment or hardship. It is to stay on our feet, moving, dancing, climbing as a way of dealing with the difficulties we are asked to manage and help our team face. Do you agree?