Team Leadership: How Winners Deal With Adversity

June 23, 2008
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Rob “Waldo” Waldman

I remember the first time I was deployed to Saudi Arabia to enforce the no-fly zone with Iraq. I sat in an intelligence mission briefing with 50 of my fellow fighter pilots (my wingmen) where we were briefed on the Iraqi threats. The SAMs (surface to air missiles) and AAA (antiaircraft artillery) were everywhere - each with the reach and power to shoot us out of the sky.

My heart pounded and my stomach ached. I couldn’t help it, but I was scared. The anxiety and fear were almost overwhelming.

For the first time in my military career, I was going to be tested in combat. It was time to put all my training to the test. The years of study, focus, and sacrifice at the Air Force Academy, where I learned the fundamentals of discipline and teamwork, to the 79th Fighter Squadron, where I learned to fly the mighty F-16, all would soon be put to use.

But deep down, I wondered if I was ready. How would I perform under real pressure? Would I get shot down? Would I be able to execute the mission when it really counted?

I had to get focused!

Despite my insecurity, the bottom line was that I was ready. I reflected on all my training and preparation, and I became more confident. All my previous work would allow me to win in Iraq. I didn’t need to be afraid.

Each day, we are faced with missiles of business and life that are being shot at us as we execute our missions. How will you deal with them? Will you take action or shirk away in fear? Do you have the foundation of training, preparation, and mental focus necessary to face those missiles with courage and confidence?

Here’s the secret: Winners work hard and plant seeds of success long before the enemy strikes.

I recently received an e-mail from a friend who works in real estate (she is a very successful time share salesperson). She wrote, “Waldo, I sure could use a sale (and some motivation from you) right now. I know I’ll get over this slump, but business is terrible.”

I felt for her. After all, I’ve been there.

Yes, business is bad all over. Look at the economy and it’s quite clear that these are tough times for many of us and our clients as well. It’s a huge missile and it’s pointing at us all. How we deal with this missile will ultimately determine whether we’ll defeat it.

If you want to test the character of a businessperson, see how they act when sales are down, when they’re having a bad month, or when the competition is winning their business. Will they run away in fear or take courageous action?



WINGTIPS

Here are a few wingtips to help you to take courageous action.

• Surround yourself with positive, successful wingmen in and out of work. Eliminate the naysayers and attract the “Yaysayers.” These are your comrades of confidence who will lend you their wings to fly, but who will also hold you accountable for your actions.

• Flight-plan your day. Get up earlier, schedule your action items, reduce/eliminate TV time, take a course on sales. Get focused on the preparation fundamentals that lead to business success.

• Be a WingGiver. Help your co-workers and associates. Remember, there are folks like you who may be struggling personally and financially. Find a way to help ease their suffering with your skill, connections, and compassion.

• Be thankful. Appreciate all your blessings. Take inventory of where your life is going well, and try not to focus on the negative.

Life has its ups and downs. Don’t resist it. Rather, accept it as a challenge to upgrade your flight status and strengthen your wings.

Remember that winners in life sweat in peace to bleed less in war. They deal with adversity by ensuring that the critical work and relationship building is accomplished before the missiles of life are launched.

If you wait until after the missiles are in the air, it’s probably too late.

Publication Date: 06/23/2008

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