Today is Pearl Harbor Day if you don’t remember; the day the US was forced to engage in WW 2. I recall reading the account in history and watching the movies depicting that attack on Pearl Harbor. However, one of my favorite movies relates to a battle that occurred six months later; the Battle of Midway. That battle was a huge turning point in WW2 (a terrific example of strategy and execution working together), and I have watched both the older and newer versions of movies about that battle several times. One line I recall from the movie is the admiral of the US Fleet, when learning the exact coordinates of the enemy fleet, giving the order to turn the carriers into the wind and prepare to launch the planes.
While I am not an expert on carrier takeoffs, I understand that in WW 2, flight decks on carriers were not that long. To ensure the planes got the needed lift required to clear the edge of the flight deck, they needed the wind pushing against the wings to generate the necessary lift. Today, even with advanced catapult systems, carriers still turn into the wind for takeoff.
Think about that comment for a moment. Carriers turn into the wind, to face resistance, to enable the plane to take off safely. The planes must face resistance to do what they were made to do. The planes must go into that headwind to achieve their purpose.
Isn’t that also true of leadership. The need for leaders comes to the forefront when time get tough, when the headwinds are against us, and when the pathway is no longer clear. It’s these challenges or headwinds that enable leaders to do what we are called to do.
I can’t think of a time where leaders were needed more. Regardless of your function, there are more challenges now than I have ever seen before. We need leaders embracing that calling and meeting these challenges! Just three quick thoughts on embracing the challenges:
- Calm the situation
- Clarify the focus
- Communicate the plan
When times are tough and the challenges seem overwhelming, calm everyone down and ensure we are under control. Make sure we all are focused on the right things and not letting the distractions of the obstacles cloud that view. Cleary communicate what needs to be done. That’s leadership.
I will close with an excerpt from a poem I recall from my teenage years titled “Don’t Quit”. I recall the beginning and end of that poem:
When things go wrong as they sometimes will
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
And you never can tell just how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
I know many of you are tired right now. Don’t give up on leading. We need you now more than ever. Be what you were called to be!