In my last position as chief human resource officer, we built a great company with a wonderful team of people, but executive behavior began to turn toxic and the winds of corporate culture changed from calm to stormy.
I was fired for raising warning flags about out of control executive behavior. Seven months later the company filed for bankruptcy, apparently due to the greed and egos of a few individuals. This bankruptcy has cost thousands of people and businesses millions upon millions of dollars. The personal and financial costs to me were enormous as well. It was simply a crisis of life.
If you are old enough you have likely dealt with some tough life issues. As imperfect human beings living in a volatile world we are bound to run into difficulty several times in both our personal and professional lives. When these difficult times hit us head on there are several questions we ask ourselves, however two particular questions come to mind: 1) Why me? and 2) How do I get through this?
Why Me? Although this is a very good question, you are not going to like the answer. Tough stuff happens to everyone. When you see someone walking down the hallway who appears to have their life together, walking confidently, dressing sharply and appearing on top of the world, you can rest assured if they have not dealt with life’s difficulties, they will. But my money is on the fact that they have dealt, or are dealing with something in their life that has shaken the very foundation of their beliefs.
We are not alone when it comes to dealing with a crisis. It is a time to bring those close to you closer. It is also a time to discover who will stand by your side. Everyday, someone around you is likely trying to work through a difficult life or business issue. Simply put, you are not alone.
How Do I Get Through This? This is actually a better question to ask. “How am I going to get through this crisis and become a better person as a result?” We can choose to run away from adversity in life or embrace the hard times in life. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should enjoy those difficult days, but rather accept that we are going through a rough time and make the best of it. Otherwise, we will likely alienate all those people important to us: family, friends and coworkers.
The Results. I would much rather work with someone who has been tested by a crisis in life. If they have tasted the scorn of the real world, and embraced and allowed the crisis to make them a better person, this individual will likely make a great coworker or leader. Those who have embraced and learned from adversity tend to develop genuine humility. Humility is a wonderful quality that tells me someone is worthy to lead others.
Those who run from a crisis, or make the crisis worse by creating more issues and drama are not worthy to lead or serve in a position of responsibility. People with excessive ego needs will likely run from a crisis and fail to learn the valuable lessons a crisis brings, hurting themselves and those around them. I am not advocating accepting failure, but rather embracing what should be learned from adversity.
Great leaders experience success because of their humility and give credit to others rather than demanding the limelight or absolute loyalty.
What is a Crisis? The type of crisis you are enduring is not as important as how you deal with it. Whether we are dealing with with abuse, trauma, death or disease, bankruptcy, financial setbacks, family disagreements or workplace distress, we should work to become better people on the other end of the ordeal. This requires accepting crisis as a fact of life and learning through the eyes of humility. It is my hope you will become a better person for enduring your next trial in life and show how it can be accomplished with humility and grace.
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“The best CEOs in our research display tremendous ambition for their company combined with the stoic will to do whatever it takes, no matter how brutal (within the bounds of the company’s core values), to make the company great. Yet at the same time they display a remarkable humility about themselves, ascribing much of their own success to luck, discipline and preparation rather than personal genius.”
— Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great
Graphic Credit: Oblation by Netzie Bebing in Grey Tones