What do you do when your plans are stymied?

Even the best of leaders will discover their limitations when circumstances are challenging. I’m not talking about when the thrill has waned or when you lack motivation; I’m referring to the times when you are working hard but not getting the results you’re envisioning.

How you navigate those seasons in your life and work is a testament to the way you lead yourself.

The English Premiership (top soccer league) launched the start of the new season this weekend. The best of the best know how to grind out a result, even when things are not going favorably–or at least they can figure out how not to lose, walking away with a tie. While not ideal, a tie earns 1 point for a tie versus 0 points for a loss and 3 points for a win. Last year, Liverpool came in second by the slimmest of margins to Manchester City – they had one less point over the course of the season.

Have you ever gone through a tough set of circumstances when things out of your control went sideways? Did you feel your world caving in or everything going against you? Did you find yourself struggling to enjoy life?

As I’ve moved through these seasons (and helped others do the same), I have discovered four important aspects of self-leadership. Focusing on these during times of crisis can help recalibrate us and can help us move more purposefully through challenging circumstances.

4 signs of self-leadership

  1. Remember your purpose (Why)
  2. Be clear on the end game (Win)
  3. Embrace the responsibility of leadership (What)
  4. Surround yourself with people that care for you (Who)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1904-1945) was a model of someone who led well. He understood his purpose. He was clear on the win. He embraced his leadership role. He surrounded himself with people who cared about him and with the things he cared for: establishing the Kingdom of God and the fall of the Third Reich!

Few people have had such an impact on the world as Bonhoeffer. It was his ability to stay calm and resolved in the midst of a life that was disrupted by arrest and imprisonment in concentration camps–and eventual execution–that inspired his fellow prisoners. His writings on discipleship, community, and ethics are classics. His views were tested in real-life circumstances not in an academic institution.

He had this to say about the church:

“The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount. I believe the time has come to gather people together to do this.” 

His was a radical call to discipleship.

Here are three questions you can use for your reflection (or to help others) when confronted with challenging circumstances:

  1. What is the worst-case scenario?
  2. What are the most critical things I/you need to do in this situation for success?
  3. Who can I/you lean on during this time?

How can these questions guide you when you find yourself in need of grinding out a result?




Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash



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