It’s not you, it’s me: The 14 words to get you out of your leadership slump

It’s not you, it’s me: The 14 words to get you out of your leadership slump

I believe it was George Washington before the Battle of Trenton that said something like, “You can’t fight the battle you want, you must fight the battle you have”. Many may not remember the details of this relatively small battle during the Revolutionary War – but it was a pivotal one for the early Americans, as it boosted moral from the devastating loss in the New York battles, and convinced more colonials that the fight for freedom was the correct one, and to join the fight for America.

The fight even to get to the battle was not easy. It was winter (Christmas Day and the day after in 1776, to be exact), and bitter weather and a frigid Delaware river made the conditions more challenging. Some of Washington’s troops were not able to cross due to these extremely hazardous conditions.

And still… Washington (GW) went for it. He knew it wouldn’t be easy. But he also knew that if he pushed through the worsened conditions and surprise the other side, his team could potentially win the day. They did.

Luckily for us, we don’t have to cross a treacherous icy river to learn from his experiences:

1.      Some of your success is because of hard work. Some just plain luck. For this one, you have to be honest with yourself. Some of what got you in this situation – with your team, your managers, your work load, etc. is due to your hard work. You stayed up late, working, studying, preparing. You made the conversations – you may have even had to play politics when you thought it was for the best.

But….. let’s be real, some of it is just plain luck. Let’s go to extremes first. Think of the kids of wealthy business people that inherited a successful family business, or the number of child stars that got their start because a parent already made it in Hollywood or Nashville (Miley, anyone?). They started out a few steps ahead… it doesn’t mean they ultimately finished successfully – but they started at a different starting line.

Some of you may work with people that seem to be in a better position than you, for no other reason than luck. YOU may have had the luck at some point too. The point is – it doesn’t matter where you started, or where you’ve been. Or where anyone else is, for that matter. It’s where you currently are (like GW on the Delaware) – you’re in the situation. Get yourself through it.

2.      Fight the battle on your terms, regardless of the conditions. Face it – GW had some less than optimal conditions for anything productive – let alone winning a battle. He was literally fighting an uphill battle in the snow. HOWEVER – he got over it and made it to his advantage. He figured the rivals (the Hessians, German contract soldiers for Britain) would not expect him to be so crazy as to cross in the darkness of night in such conditions – and so he did just that.

GW took a crappy situation and made it his own – on his conditions. If you have a team that doesn’t respect you – or a project that’s not getting done (and you’ve worked your tail off, and starting to feel burnt out) – then stop. Take a step back. Take a deep breath. It’s not the battle you want. Fine. How can you make – what you have RIGHT now – into something that’s yours – your wheelhouse, your strengths – your terms?

3.      Bloom where you’re planted. I heard this several years ago when I actually benefited from hearing the advice I’m giving now. I was in a job that I knew wasn’t challenging me, and no matter how hard I tried, almost nothing I did was recognized as support for the company – nor would I get support on how to improve.

You may not have planned to end up where you are right now. At this age. In this particular job. Leading these people. That’s ok. Think of 3 things that are going well – and think of 3 things that are NOT happening – but COULD – and your life/job/team could be much worse. You may have a few people on your team that drag you down. Bloom where you’re planted – figure out a new way around it. You may not be in the job you wanted to be at this age. Bloom where you’re planted – find the advantage of being exactly where you are (like GW did) and make it yours.

“You can’t fight the battle you want, you must fight the battle you have”

How do you encourage your team to fight the battle?

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