When Leadership Sucks

Embrace The Suck!

A teammate shared this military slogan in our weekly leadership e-mails and it stuck with me.

I find it interesting how we all “know” that life is not fair but still like to play the victim role.  Here are some things we like to say:

  • I don’t understand why he has it better than me when I work harder?
  • Why is it that some criminals live like kings, and I struggle with all this financial stress and finding a good job?
  • Why do I have to eat all these salads and she can eat whatever she wants and look good?
  • Why do they get to leave at 4pm when I have been working 15 hour days for 2 months?
  • I prepared for this task for 6 months and I still failed.

These statements are all centered on ourselves.  The curious aspect of this focus is that we end up with the “I deserve” mentality.  We believe to be so much more valuable than anyone else that when things don’t benefit us we say life is unfair. In the end, it is this “I deserve” mentality that makes us believe situation x sucks.

The fact is things can always be worse.  There’s always someone that has it much worse.  “Embrace the suck” is not about surrendering to the negative side of life, it’s about maximizing the results and impact with the cards that are dealt.

Leaders must face this kind of adversity. Ask Richard Branson, Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness), Martin Luther King, J.K. Rowling, Jackie Robinson and Abe Lincoln about their “sucks” in life and find out what they did with them.  They took advantage of their circumstances and made greatness happen.

Embracing the suck is all a matter of positive attitude; of accepting that we can only control ourselves and our actions; and to understand that crises can only make us stronger.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts….We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.” —Charles R. Swindoll

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