Leadership lessons from a storm rider (2)
The real strength of a leader lies in his ability to build capacity in others to do what he does, not by mystifying his activities largely for the purpose of manipulating the emotions of his followers. Great leaders don’t mystify capacity. They simplify, enlarge and replicate it. But they don’t stop there. They empower and support function. Delegation without the power of execution is nothing but the setting of a booby trap for a follower. For the insecure leader, that is the only way he can reinforce the delusional myth of his infallibility and the followers’ incompetence.
When we are confronted with what seems to be a daunting task or challenge, it is not the enormity of the assignment that holds our emotions hostage. It is our paradigm. This was Peter’s dilemma. He had neither seen nor heard that anyone ever walked on water before! The closest he ever saw to that was being in a boat! So his wildest imagination never pictured that possibility until this experience. Even though he got the revelation and instruction meant to give him a new paradigm, he could not sustain it. More often than not, we approach issues from the prism of our ‘known’ – familiar experiences, limit of our exposure, available resources, mastered skill, circle of relationships and other issues that we are very comfortable with and which define the limits of our ability to deal with the twists and turns of life. We hardly explore possibilities in our “unknown”. Consequently, when we are unable to break the box of those limitations in our thinking, we conclude that it cannot be done even when we have seen others do it or have started taking steps to do it. If anyone else is doing it, it must be because he has some super power behind him. And since we are not so sure we have the same support system, we crave and hug the comfort of our boat! Leadership capacity is crippled and incapacitated when you doubt possibilities of an unusual outcome. A satisfaction with the mundane will never make a storm rider out of any leader. Trying to create what ought to be with what was will always be an exercise in futility. Innovation is always disruptive to status quo. The mindset that kept you boat-bound will never make you a water-walker!
Focus is the stability of achievement. Fear is the disruptive and distracting elephant that walks into the room when we take our eyes off our goal. Storms easily overcome the distracted. Peter began his water-walking adventure by defying the storm at the instruction of Jesus. And everything was going on very well. The other disciples gazed in both admiration and awe. But in an unguarded moment of a paradigm slip, he took his eyes off the instruction and the Source! Pronto, he began to sink! You cannot be motivated beyond your motive. What drives you? What goals are you pursuing? Are they strong enough to make you go through a storm? If they are not, you will buckle under minimal pressure! A downward spiral is the result when you take your eyes off your motivation to focus on your predicament. The pleasure of a future must be far greater in your estimation than the pain of the present. You go through the latter to secure the former.
The only person who will be stranded in life is the one who doesn’t get help because pride prevents him from seeking it! Too many people have become accustomed to suffering in silence. They have made their ego larger than their purpose. When in dire straits, they keep pretending that all is well and never ask for help! Some would readily regale you with the experience of how they were shunned by some people they asked for help from. Those who have never walked in darkness with you can never appreciate your need for light! So, maybe you have been asking the wrong persons. It’s like seeking marriage counsel from someone who has never gone on a date! The man who is trembling by the bank of a river is not the one you should be asking for direction on how to cross to the other side. Imagine if Peter had cried out to his colleagues who were still having a fight of their lives with the storm and the apparition before their eyes! No man can give you counsel beyond what he knows. Peter understood that the manufacturer of any equipment is in the best position to fix it. He knew the one whose instruction got him into this dilemma in the first place. And it was to Him that Peter cried. Peter did not try to ‘spiritualize’ his predicament. Denial does not change a situation. Confronting it does. Faith is not a denial of reality. It does not call those things that are as though they are not. It simply confronts the fact of reality with a higher truth hitherto unknown to the situation. As he found his feet slipping into the raging waters, Peter knew there was no time for grandiloquent platitudes. He laid it bare, “Master, help me!”. Is there a situation that you are faced with right now where you seem not to be in control of a downward spiral in the results you are getting? Seek help. But do it from those who have what it takes to help you, not from the people who are petrified like you are of the experience! As the Holy Bible counsels every Christian, keep your eyes on Jesus, the One who inspires and perfects your faith.
As I said earlier, when you take steps out of your comfort zone, the first elephant that enters the room is fear. The fear of the unknown manifesting in unprecedented or unwanted outcomes. The greatest of leaders will from time to time have butterflies in their stomachs at the onset of a task. Achievement is never a product of not being afraid. It is about confronting your fear and moving against it. The magnitude of opposition is always determined by the magnitude of the assignment. Action and reaction, one of Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion teaches us, are equal and opposite. Any object in motion encounters resistance equal to its velocity. Opposition does not sit down because you stood up! The storm you are afraid of is usually nothing but a test of the integrity and quality of the motive that drives your move. Very often, when you move against your fears, you discover that they largely existed in your head rather than in the experience you are dealing with. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, upon feeling certain symptoms in your body, your imagination went gaga as it conjured some terrible images that made you suddenly lose your appetite until a visit to the doctor and subsequent tests showed that you only had malaria? Remember how your appetite returned with a vengeance? … continued.
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!