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Success leaves clues. Interviews and dialogues around the clues left by successful people overcoming life's challenges. Breakthrough self imposed limits. Thom Shea is a retired Navy SEAL and the best selling author of "Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL's Way of Life" and combat veteran. Thom shares interviews with extra-ordinary men and women who have pushed through their self-imposed limits. The clues lead to a measurable life.
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May 12, 2019

Resilience is a very misunderstood aspect lately and is truly misrepresented in leadership. The going trend is to look at resilience after the breaking down of either combat soldiers and sailors or businesses which have fallen to constant strain. Odd that we look at the ones who didn’t weather the storm instead of the ones who do. Hey listen, success leaves tracks leading toward success. Losing leaves scars that cause dysfunctions.

Is often funny to witness growth and leadership through the lens of Resilience.

Growth always is exciting up front. And, there never seems to be cause to practice resilience in the beginning.

Growth initially pushes away the fog, allows for new insights and new paths through the darkness. And during planning in the light no one wants to consider what will happen during dark times.

Growth then becomes dirty, as you have to cut down branches and pick up rocks on the trail that impede progress. If you were one who had weathered many storms you would have practiced the resilience side of growth and leadership, by preparing for darkness.

Growth then becomes emotional, when the people who were on your team lose sight of the path they were on that was comfortable and clean and even though that old path led to a cliff and death they are emotionally attached to the feeling they had on the death path. And the ego and emotionally midgetry of people who expect something new for no effort cause resiliency to never ignite.

Growth then and always dies in the 11th hour.  In the 11th hour we always realize we are still carrying many of the processes and gear and people that were on the death path and none of them are helping clear the new path.  We fight the old ways and fight each other and never just keep after it. And that again would have been part of the success equation had the leaders and team actually consider being resilient up front, but few do.

What we never realize is that we are only 20 feet from breaking through, so we settle with the old ways and often turn 90 degrees and maybe even 180 degrees away from success. Most of us cannot endure the pressure of grinding and doing simple mundane things, like making one more sales call, like picking up the trash in our office. And few leaders have the resilience to hear the team complaining and questioning the outcome just one more day. 

Resilience in simply honoring your word over time, through challenges and until the outcome happens. I only care that you honor your word and honor god and honor your family and get to the end, which is where you need to be.

Here is the truth about resilient leaders in any industry or on any team or even at home. Maybe this is a linear way to look at the importance of being a resilient leader.

  1. Commit to the goal before you have a team or a solution or any clarity of how you will get there.
  2. As a leader you must put to words your vision and your mission. And your job from this point on is to keep speaking your vision and mission everywhere all the time and no matter what is breaking apart around you.
  3. As a leader you must get, recruit, and form a team of people around you that are much better at this than you are. If you don’t do this right and do this early, you will not have access to resilience at all.
  4. Develop a base line executable plan that has people doing activity that gets the ball one yard at a time down the field. Once you design the plan hand it to a 8 year old. If the 8 year old cannot figure it out and do it than scrap it and go back to another plan that an 8 year old can do.
  5. Now that you are ready, stop. You now have to get ready for everything that is going to go wrong and prepare for the smack down that will surely come. If your direct reports, or your team captains, or your main team members don’t have the stomach or patience to prepare for the darkness get rid of them or encourage them with your wise leadership to prepare.
  6. Launch the ship, start the project, begin the race.
  7. Don’t give up, don’t give in, never quit until the end.

That seems simple yet those who are resilient know this one fact: no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Not one of them. Every single project or plan or even a football play gets hammered right after you start. Your job as a resilient leader is to clean up the mess and start again. Every thing has and will go wrong. Buses crash, money gets lost or stolen, people die and quit, wives or husbands leave. And this is the first part of resilience, is clean up the mess and start again.

What happens in the 11th hour? By the 11th hour everything is thin, people are tired of it, money is not coming in like you thought, families are exhausted, the products and practices are always changing, and you as a leader are questioning yourself and your team and everything. But what isn’t happening in the 11th hour is resilience. You and your team are not doing the basics and fundamentals anymore. Resilience in the 11th hour is master the basics, do the basics and keep doing them. Don’t quit for god’s sake don’t quit now. Take one more step. Keep the team going one more day. Keep after the basics.

For god’s sake be resilient in your life, because it is the most critical skill to have as a leader.