Stay in the fight

Years ago I was the leader of a volunteer organization that I led with all my strength.  We all really believed in the mission and worked hard to achieve our goals.  But, like most groups of people, there were a few complainers mixed in there.  And they quietly complained, and criticized every imperfection.  They worked to monopolize my time and spread their bad thinking through the group.  I fought to resolve the issues but they fought back and they wore me down.  So I retreated into safety.  I stayed at my post, but chose to disengage.  I’m ashamed to admit that I was a coward and the mission suffered.

Leaders need to stay in the fight.  Fight for what’s right.  Fight for your people and fight for margins.  Fight for the mission and profits.  Fight against ignorance and fight for fairness.  When we quit fighting, we quit leading.  It’s wearying but that’s our job.

Of course I’m not talking about actual fist fighting or even leg wrestling.  I’m saying that we need to stay away from the safe easy places of our jobs and move toward the difficult, risky places.  As leaders we need to use our power not for ourselves and our comfort but to fight for goals outside ourselves.  Higher goals than ourselves.

I’d like to encourage you to stay in that fight.  If you feel squeezed from all sides, keep fighting.  If you’re doing all the good you can but you can’t seem to move the bubble, keep fighting.  If everyone else gives up on an important initiative or person that you believe in, keep fighting.  You won’t always win.  But fight anyway.

Leadership isn’t easy.  It requires courage and humility.  Many of your decisions will be difficult.  Negotiations may become tense.  Hours may be long.  People will tax your patience.  These take their toll.  We become fatigued.  Didn’t Vince Lombardi tell us: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all”?

So, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  Pull yourself up and get ready to fight.  Because your mission and your people are counting on your leadership.  And your leadership requires some fighting.  Bob R

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