Thoughts on Leadership: When the going gets tough

It is impossible simply to coast by in life. Productivity and leadership require that you push yourself, almost by definition. But pushing yourself usually means that there’s going to be some pushback—from colleagues, competition, even your own brain and body. In short, leadership is tough. So how will you approach the challenges in your life?

Again, getting things done is difficult. Whether you approach hard things from a stand point of discipline and careful planning or motivation and spontaneity, there are some more fundamental problems that will inevitably crop up in the face of challenge—namely your brain and your biology. Our bodies are hardwired in many instances to choose the path of least resistance, to be biased towards expediency. Your conscious self has an uphill battle to fight, when a lot of your other systems don’t want to take the risk of tackling a challenge.

All of this is only more true in a time of staffing shortages, a looming pandemic, and an uncertain future.

This means you need a plan? What strategies are you going to employ?

The Harvard Business Review suggests several. First, don’t ignore your mood. It is easier to make changes and deal with problems when you’re in a good mood and feeling naturally positive. So harness those emotions whenever they come and work to foster a good attitude.

Second, present your brain with clear choices and consequences. If you make it clear that there are significant consequences to avoiding hard work, then you are much more likely to make the extra effort than if you continue to muddle in ambiguity.

Third, growth mindset is key. This comes pretty naturally to leaders and is almost a truism, but you cannot forget about growth mindset. This is the surest way to steer clear of despair and straight towards solving any problems that come your way.

Bottom line is, people are not sheer will power. There are other forces at play in our decision making and motivation. Master these forces, and you will be much more productive.

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