Endurance: Necessary Fitness in Leadership

At first, hiking Cathedral Rock Trail seemed like a terrific way to spend a spring afternoon while vacationing with family in Sedona, Arizona.  Little did I realize the “short, steep ascent” the guide casually mentioned would be steeped in leadership lessons that I would not soon forget.  Actually, several of those lessons have been extremely applicable during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis.

You may be familiar with Cathedral Rock, a massive sandstone butte with an intricately carved gap, since it is an often-photographed landmark in the copper-colored hills at the heart of the Grand Canyon State.  The guide we hired pointed out other sites of interest in the surrounding national forest as she led our group up the sandy formation.  Her quick pace did not raise our heart rates as much as climbing bald rocks using toeholds did; we literally had to lean forward and crawl in order to get past several craggy spots.

It took far more endurance to reach the top of that 1.5-mile trail than any previous hike I had been on, but the reward for such effort included the incredible view and the unique perspective I received on endurance.  Indeed, endurance may be the secret ingredient needed for any successful leadership venture.  As Dan Antonelli puts it in his Entrepreneur blog, “the celebrated tech startups and multi-million-dollar investments we read about aren’t because of a few quick business sprints. Instead, they are all the result of strong, concerted efforts of strength and discipline—the type only seen in endurance sports” (for more of his article entitled “Forget Marathons:  Business is the Ultimate Endurance Sport,” go to www.entrepreneur.com/article/237799).

Interestingly, the word endurance derives from an old French term endurer which when translated means “the ability to bear suffering.”  Durability, continuity, and persistence are words associated with our modern usage of the term.  And for anyone in leadership today, endurance has become more essential than ever.  Those who hope to not only survive in a post-COVID 19 world but also aspire to attain new levels of significance in themselves and in their leadership must endure the struggles of this global pandemic, including overcoming shuttered businesses and the corresponding economic instability and uncertainty that has followed.

To help you move onward and upward in your leadership journey, here are a few endurance lessons I learned at Cathedral Rock:

1. Focus on Falling Forward

At LEADon®, we often share with leaders that life requires the determination to simply keep going, no matter what.  When you are weary, fall forward.  Do not look back!  Keep moving ahead with your vision and mission in mind with all the grit you can muster.

2. Make Each Step Matter

Toeholds are everywhere in your personal and professional journey—you just need to look for them.  Take time to consider what your next step should be, then make it.  The benefit of such sure-footedness can be astounding, as  Dan Antonelli succinctly summarizes: “rise to the challenge that every new day presents, if you want true lasting success.”

3. Take the Breaks You Will Need: In an interview given to Forbes in September of 2018, business woman and founder of iTRI365 Cori Moore shared one of her secrets to success: “When I get overwhelmed with building a business, I remind myself to get some rest and not linger on frustrating thoughts that will pass” (see “Endurance is the Business and Passion of This Serial Entrepreneur” at www.forbes.com). It is okay to take time to reset in the midst of your daily grind.  Strive to find equilibrium between working your business and the business of balancing your health.  At LEADon®, we have several online courses that address this topic, including LEADing with Personal and Professional Life Balance® and  LEADers Manage Their Health®  (www.LEADonUniversity.com).

4. Consider Hiring a Seasoned Guide

After retracing our steps down Cathedral Rock that spring afternoon, I became more convinced than ever that hiring our hiking guide was a great decision.  Why?  She had traveled that trail over and over, so she knew the pathway to realizing our goal.  When we stumbled, she encouraged us to keep going, and she pointed out good moves as we made them so we could repeat them again. Outstanding leadership experts can help you and your team successfully tread through uncharted territory too.

Endurance is not often described in business journals or books about corporate success, but now more than ever it is a characteristic that will refine and define your personal and professional leadership.  If the team at LEADon® can assist you as you chart new pathways to success in the days ahead, please contact us at 858.592.0700 or find us at www.LEADonUniversity.com.