The Valleys Define the Leaders

Posted by Todd Smith

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Leaders are easily identified during the best of times, but it’s the tough times that really breed and define great leaders. Look around. How many people do you see who are stepping up their game and navigating challenging circumstances?  If you are like me, there aren’t many.

Today, we are smack in the midst of a leadership drought. This economic downturn has exposed everyone’s warts. It has separated the real leaders from those who thought they were leaders.

Economic difficulties need not mean that we lower our standards for leadership. If anything, we should raise our sights. This is your opportunity to take control of your future, build your self-worth, and increase your market value.

Whether you lead a business, nonprofit organization, religious institution, or family, here are some thoughts for you to consider on being an extraordinary leader during tough and challenging times.

1.  Seize the moment- Today’s leaders realize NOW is their opportunity to distinguish themselves. They know most people don’t have what it takes to lead during difficult times, so they are growing, pushing, and stretching like never before. While their progress may be slow due to the negative economic currents, they are gaining ground and separating themselves from everyone else who is slipping back.

2.  Suck it up- Yes, times are tough and everyone knows it, but true leaders aren’t griping and complaining like everyone else who seems to have crawled into their defensive cocoons. Instead, they have sucked it up, licked their bruises, learned their lessons, and are focused on offense.

3.  Consume personal growth content- Great leaders aren’t born; they are sculpted through years of learning and growth. They understand the only way to grow and improve is through learning. Today’s leaders are hungry for knowledge that will inspire, motivate, and give them an edge. They also know the best source of valuable content comes from their successful predecessors.

4.  Have a plan- While having a plan for what you want to accomplish has always been important, tough times make it all the more critical. This is not a time for a wing and a prayer. Extraordinary leaders map out their direction with compass-like accuracy.

5.  Fight—It’s easy to get discouraged and have moments of doubt and fear when faced with challenging and difficult times. Great leaders know that when they get down and discouraged, they are not alone. But rather than wallowing in self-pity, today’s leaders are kicking, scratching, and fighting to win. They know deep inside their gut that NOW is the time to attack.

6.  Position yourself—It is easy to take a breather when you’re down in the valleys, but great leaders aren’t standing still. They are working hard to plant their crops and know full well that you must sow before you reap.  When the season changes, the harvest will come, and they will be positioned to lead like never before.

 Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or the CEO of your own company, I want to challenge you to step it up.  Grab hold of the reins and become a role model. Our world is starving for your leadership.

If you have never been in a leadership role before, start looking for opportunities to lead. They are all around you if you are searching for them.  Start to take a leadership role with small projects. Then, as your confidence grows, take on bigger projects.  Sure, it will be a little scary at first, but you can do it.

If you want to control your future, then become the leader of the future. It’s the leaders who have full control, not the followers. As you seize leadership opportunities, you’ll begin to distinguish yourself from 95% of your peers. The process of inspiring and motivating others will enhance your self-worth, market value, and contribution to our society as a whole.

It’s leading through the valleys of fear, darkness, and doubt that define great leaders.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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