On Leadership: Doing Hard Things



It’s war that makes generals.

~ Steven Lee Elder

Challenges don’t build character.  They reveal it.

~ James Allen

During my career I have faced various challenges from which I have gained knowledge and experience.  One of them I vividly remember was when I was working as a Director of Operations and my team was redesigning our distribution center to improve our shipping efficiencies.  After an extensive planning period we executed.

It was a disaster.

We believed we had thought through all the steps to convert the warehouse to the new racks and locations and update the system, but everything did not go as planned.  The end result was the inventory wasn’t where the system thought it was supposed to be and as orders were processed we began to find we were “missing” inventory and having to put orders on back order.  The inventory was in fact in the warehouse, but just in a location that wasn’t reflected in the system.  Within a short period of time the confidence in the system and inventory was zero.  We began to delay order shipments as we attempted to manually pick and check every order.

After much effort and not a lot of sleep, we eventually resolved the issues and got back on track.  The new system lived up to original expectation and we moved forward.  I was grateful all was becoming normal again, but I still felt heavy responsibility for the problems caused and discussed my concerns and perceived failures with the President of the company.  He said something to me I will never forget.  He said, “Steve, I would rather have a leader who has the scars of being challenged and succeeded than one who has never been tested.”

That was the defining moment for me.  I realized the power of the experience and how I had changed.  I did feel tested.  I had to dig deep to show the leadership necessary to resolve the crisis.  I had been through the fire and, as a result, increased in wisdom.  I knew from then on that I could do hard things and that all things can give me experience to become a better leader.

You can do hard things.  It’s starts with a belief in yourself.  It continues with hard work and humbly seeking help.  It succeeds through persistence and a firm determination to achieve.

Choose to be great at hard things.


4 thoughts on “On Leadership: Doing Hard Things

  1. Great message Steve! I love the example of where you were forced to dig deep and learn from a challenging situation. Reminded me of a quote – “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” Thanks for your words of wisdom today!

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