Recently I ran across a video of a concert violinist who experienced a bit of an interruption. Can you say, “Turn off your cell phones when you enter the concert hall?”
Check out the video and listen for the Nokia ringtone near the end. The response of the musician is priceless.
As a leader, you know that often times things don’t go as planned. Employees leave, players get injured, people get sick, friends move across the country, kids rebel, the boss says I have bad news . . . the list never ends.
If you lead long enough, circumstances will eventually go against you. In that moment, you may think there is light at the end of the tunnel, but unfortunately it might be an oncoming train.
The question is, “What do you do when your plan is interrupted?”
1. Rely on your training. Practice doesn’t really make perfect, as the old saying goes, but it really does make you prepared to handle hardships. The greatest athletes and artists are the ones who practice the hardest. They are also the ones who perform under the most pressure. Practice diffuses pressure!
2. Expect the unexpected. Anticipating that things might go wrong can lead to a relaxed attitude when they do go wrong. On the other hand, fear leads to failure. Learn to go with the flow and your confidence will grow.
3. Have a back up plan. A great guitar player always carries a back up guitar. Tennis players have extra rackets. Your thing might not be strings, but if you give it some thought, you can discern what a back up plan would look like in your environment.
4. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. When and if the plan fails because of human error, be willing to forgive, make adjustments, and move on. If you are the one who messes up, don’t take yourself so seriously. Stuff happens!
5. Learn how to “shift on the fly.” Shifting gears in a manual transmission car becomes necessary when the motor reaches a certain level of RPM’s. In that moment the engine revs itself to a crisis point. Shifting, for an experienced driver, is effortless. However, the experience comes only after those tense moments at a red light 0n an incline, and the sound of a beginner grindings the gears. Likewise, the more things go wrong in your leadership world, the more you will be prepared to handle the interruptions. Your crisis point can lead to a breakthrough.
I am amazed at how often greatness shows its face in the presence of adversity. Learn to welcome the interruptions and you might wow the crowds too.
Any other tips for handling adversity?
Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.