Thursday Thoughts: Courage + Counsel = Strength

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.                                                                                                  - Ernest Hemingway

We have all had failures. Setbacks. The things that have, if only for a time, beaten us. While the pain and frustration we feel in these moments is real, it is important to feel something else too: the accumulation of wisdom and strength.

Good leaders understand that working through a hardship is an experience that allows them to grow. Just as any gem is polished by friction, success is frequently borne of hard-won lessons.

These lessons are often rejected. And that’s a shame, because leaders understand that everyone can achieve at high level if they are willing to pay the price – to work through difficulty and accept responsibility for themselves and others.

If this price is paid consistently, competition thins out as more people opt not to take the hard lessons of leadership and continue forward.

Good leaders also reject avoiding bad news, disagreement, and contrary opinions.

A leader with employees who always agree with him or her will reap a counsel of mediocrity.

A wise leader never kills the employee bearing bad news. Rather, the wise leader kills the employee who fails to deliver the bad news. Better to confront a problem quickly, head-on, than to hear "maybe I should have mentioned that” after the fact.

Leaders understand he who asks the wrong questions – usually the easy ones - always hears the wrong answers.

And a wise leader never asks a question for which he doesn't want to hear the answer.

The lesson here? Leadership is hard. It presents myriad challenges. But these challenges - and the breaks and bruises they cause us on our way to the top -  are often our greatest source of strength.