Leadership Traits: Endurance vs Discouragement

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22-05-2015

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In this section on leadership traits, we will look into how endurance is connected to one’s personal development.

Cycle of leadership growth

1. Youth team

When it comes to drawing out inward strength to withstand stress and doing one’s best, nothing beats camp season to bring out the challenge. The weeks leading to the camp dates are a flurry of session preparations, facilitator briefings, camp shopping, and last minute registrations, among others.

This is the usual excitement that leads up to camp day but also one of the more stressful periods. While there is always a scheduled list of tasks, there is the risk of not being able to endure the pre-camp mad dash which could easily lead to fatigue and discouragement – even before camp starts!

Then there are the challenges with campers. There will always be an enthusiastic bunch who has been looking forward to and excited about camp, a handful of melancholics whose parents signed them up against their will, and still a few more individuals who are simply indifferent about their presence at camp.

Sometimes, we fear that because of the latter two groups, the camp will not be as fun and exciting as we plan it to be. Certainly if we are not careful, we can sometimes allow discouragement to get the better of us.

Undoubtedly such times call for the practice of endurance. Surprisingly endurance has little to do with physical strength; it’s about drawing out the inward strength to withstand stress and do one’s best. And hope is the fuel that keeps inward strength alive.

We refuse to let discouragement weigh down our hearts by bolstering our endurance with a lively hope of inspiring and building a generation of leaders from the youths.

Through our own examples and our intentional design of camp activities, we instil endurance as well as other leadership traits in the campers. Rather than crumble under pressure, we should all learn to take each challenge one step at a time, pacing so as not to get ahead of ourselves.

Discouragement results when one tries to emotionally bear the whole load at once. It’s about facing each day and each goal, one at a time, and be ready to adjust when necessary.

Like a magician before a bed of nails, spreading the body weight over multiple points rather than a single point of a nail helps to disperse the force that otherwise would have easily punctured the skin.

The Leaderonomics Youth team is dedicated to providing youths between the ages of 11 and 19 with opportunities to develop and grow their leadership potential. To engage with the team, email youth@leaderonomics.com

2. Campus team

Life is tough – if you haven’t found out already. Challenges and disappointments come in all shapes and sizes. Worse still, they come in relentless waves to wear us down.

Nowhere is this more evident for someone than the big leap from being a young person into an adult. The leap we are talking about is graduating and finding a job.

Statistics show that 5% gets the right job on their first try. The rest of the 95% end up doing jobs which they don’t want (Source: Economist Neil Howe).

It’s easy to feel discouraged over this predicament. In fact, most graduates hop from job to job hoping to find that magical fit. Most people give up and settle along the way – only to be more discouraged many years down the line when they are stuck in a job that they never wanted in the first place.

That’s why we instil a sense of purpose and self-awareness in the undergraduates participating in our programmes. Students discover their strengths and weaknesses and how they can make better career choices.

We have been asked what is the secret of some people who can seemingly endure setback after setback. For us, the key to endurance lies in the ability to accept failure and learn from it.

One of our signature programmes, Project 25 is a one-and-a-half-year leadership development journey for students to discover and reach their potential. It’s currently available in selected universities.

Here, they will face many moments where they will be out of their comfort zones. These are potential failure moments. We let them know that it’s okay to fail and that failure is the prerequisite to success.

More importantly – both discouragement and endurance are learnt traits. We are not born with either one of it. That’s the good news because there is a choice available to us. It’s in the failure moments where we can choose to be discouraged or to endure.

So our encouragement to everyone out there is ‘don’t think that you don’t have a choice because you can grow from your failures’. As John Maxwell aptly puts it – we need to ‘fail forward’.

Leaderonomics Campus strives to empower undergraduates by arming them with a sound command of practical and professional knowledge, fostering creative and critical thinking, and facilitating the evolution of their unique leadership styles. For more information, email us at campus@leaderonomics.com

3. Corporate services team

“If it’s hard to do, keep doing it! Find new ways of doing it, ask for help after you have tried 10 times and don’t give up. It’s only hard because you have not learnt this new thing yet. Whatever it is, smile and remember that I am here. Once you get it done, you have learnt something new and you have become one bit better.”

Every now and then I give this pep talk to my seven year-old. At times it is met with a renewed glow of hope and determination. At other times, just a big sigh before she heads off to give it one last try. At times like those, I’m tempted to jump right in and give the solution.

This scenario is not uncommon when we work with our corporate clients as well. In many of our talent accelerated programmes for high potentials, we stretch them to make sure they grow, often times through business projects. These projects require them to change their paradigm, see things in a more strategic manner than tactical, come up with new ideas, conduct feasibility studies, speak to stakeholders, work out the financials, plan, propose and get approval from their senior management.

Phew! It’s tiring just to list all that down. And most of the time, that’s how the participants feel.

They start off very excited but mid-way it is not uncommon to find them stressed, discouraged, wondering why they are doing this and wanting to give up. This is when the team and project manager support becomes very critical. The assurance that you have a team going through this with you makes the stress a bit more manageable.

And knowing that there is a project manager and programme manager from Leaderonomics that they can come to for guidance or simply to bounce off ideas, definitely gives them hope that the project can be completed well.

At times, endurance really comes from knowing that there is something to gain at the end of the project. And needless to say, we are often met with very satisfied faces and at times testimonials that say “I am so glad I went through this time of pain. I have learnt so much more in the last few months than my many years of work.”

The Corporate Services team in Leaderonomics aspires to help talents fulfil their potential for leadership through holistic efforts, via intended and customised talent management processes. We pinpoint your talents’ capabilities through talent assessment, and craft development journeys to help them move towards being successful leaders. To know what we have to offer, email training@leaderonomics.com

 

For more leadership traits articles, click here.

 
First appeared on Leaderonomics.com. Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 23 May 2015

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