Hello, and welcome to the Leadership Done Right Podcast, Episode 48: 5 Strategies to Overcome the Resistance on Your Leadership Journey. Hi friends! I hope you are doing well and enjoying life wherever it is that you are listening to this episode!
A couple episodes ago, I talked about my hobby of mountain bike and in this episode, I am going to share one of my recent mountain biking adventures and five strategies I follow to overcome resistance on my leadership journey. By following these strategies, I was able to make it home safely from my challenging mountain bike ride! Before we get into that though, I want to ask you a few questions.
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Leadership Challenges are Like a Hard Mountain Bike Ride
Alright, I want to tell you about a recent mountain biking experience. This weekend, my wife and I went on a very fun, but challenging bike ride.
The Preparation and Plan
We had to prepare for the ride first. We didn’t want to get lost so we figured out where we were going, and mapped out a trail that would be both fun and challenging. The trail was about nine and a half miles long and it was a 1,500-foot elevation climb and decent. As part of preparing for the ride, my wife, Cassie, set up a babysitter to watch our kids while we went on the ride. I also had to get the bike rack on the back of our truck and load up the bikes. And to finish it off, I got the gear ready to go and loaded into the truck.
Once we got to the trailhead, we unloaded the bikes and took off. We both thought we were in decent shape until we began the ride. We started going along at a good pace and in no time, were huffing and puffing. Our legs and lungs began to burn, and soon we were alternating between pushing our bikes up the hill and riding for short stints.
Occasionally we would stop, take in the view with a couple of selfies, and, let’s be honest, we just needed a break. Those breaks were short, but they gave us just enough rest to keep going. We followed that pattern until we finally made it to the top. At the top there was a radio tower and a beautiful view of the valley below. Lately, it has been raining and snowing so the mountains and valley are really green compared to the year-round brown of the dessert. It was very nice and fun to see.
The Thrill of the Downhill
On the ride up, I kept telling Cassie that the ride down was the best part and would be just awesome. But, as luck has it, we started down the mountain and about a mile down I looked back and Cassie wasn’t there. I waited a little bit and still didn’t see her coming so I started to head back. It turned out that she got a flat tire and was walking her bike down the hill.
Well, long story short, I rode my bike down to the truck, and went back to where Cassie was with the truck. I let her ride my bike back down to the bottom so we both had the chance to get the downhill rush. Overall, it was a lot of fun, but there were trials, challenges, and we experienced resistance along the way.
How Does All This Relate?
Now you may be thinking, “That sounds fun and all, but how does that relate to leadership and connect with the Leadership Done Right Podcast?” Well, there are several ways that this story relates to our leadership journey and the resistance we can face.
Every leader experiences their own share of trials, challenges, and resistance. They come in many forms and happen often at times when we least expect them.
How to Overcome Leadership Resistance
Now, let’s talk about how to overcome leadership resistance. I made a list of five strategies I follow, to face and overcome the resistance.
1. The Plan
The first strategy is to create a Plan. In my mountain biking story, Cassie and I made a plan. We found the area we wanted to go, mapped it out, and decided what we would do with our kids while we were gone. Since this was just a short weekend adventure, the plan was very simple, but other situations require a much more lengthy plan.
In leadership, it’s imperative that you create a plan to complete your goals and leadership objectives. The plan can be short, simple, and to the point. It can also be very long, complex, and require many people and steps to complete. What’s most important, is that you have the right plan for the situation.
Each plan is different and requires different levels of complexity, but there are five keys to creating an effective plan regardless of the size of your leadership objective.
1. Create a Clear Picture of the Desired Outcome
The first key is to create a clear picture of the desired outcome. Another way of saying that is to “Begin with the end in mind” as Stephen R. Covey would say. When you create a clear picture of the desired outcome, you define what the outcome should be and what success should look like.
Identify key factors to obtain the desired outcome. For complex plans, there will be many factors and for small plans, there may only be a few factors that determine success or failure.
2. Create Specific Milestones/Benchmarks
The second key is to create specific milestones or benchmarks. Identify what you expect to accomplish and by when. This goes hand in hand with creating deadlines. When you work on your plan, create specific milestones that help you identify the beginning, middle, and end. And then, throughout this process, set check points to follow up and review your progress.
3. Define Resource Requirements
For your plan to be successful, the third key is to figure out what resources are required. What does that mean? The resources fall into one of the following categories: time, money, people, equipment, and technology.
4. Identify Potential Resource sources
Once you have identified what resources you’re going to need, the fourth key is to identify where you’ll get those resource. So where do you get time? How do you get more money? Where do you find people? How do you get equipment? And, where will you get the technology you need?
When you understand where to get your resources, you have a much better understanding of how big the plan will be.
5. Identify Potential Roadblocks
Since most plans depend on something or someone else, the fifth key is to identify what roadblocks are going to get in your way. Some of these roadblocks may be:
- People falling through
- Not enough people
- Inadequate or untimely funding
- Equipment malfunctions
- Technology that isn’t available or doesn’t work
- And, well, the list goes on and on…
Because there are so many potential roadblocks, identifying the most likely roadblocks and creating a contingency plan will make it much more likely that they won’t become an issue.
I love the slogan for the Boy Scouts of America. It is “Be prepared!” Once you’ve created the plan, the second strategy is to prepare. In my mountain biking adventure, once we decided where we were going, we prepared for the trip. I got the bikes ready, put the bike rack and bikes on the back of our truck and got all the biking gear ready. Cassie set up the babysitter and got snacks ready.
Now, that’s not the only preparation we did. That was just the short term, right before the ride, preparation we did. There’s no way we would be able to do this type of a ride if we were completely out of shape and never exercised. Cassie and I both have regular exercise routines and maintain an active lifestyle so we can do these types of adventures whenever we want.
Similarly in leadership, preparation is just as important. There’s long term preparation and preparation that occurs moments before you are required to take action.
Long Term Preparation
Let’s talk about the long term leadership preparation. It can be done in a variety of ways.
- Education – To prepare for leadership, get additional education. That education can cover a variety of topics. You may want to deepen your technical knowledge by learning more about your chosen field. You can also learn about general aspects of leadership, leadership characteristics, challenges leaders face, and a variety of other related topics. That education is available through colleges and universities, corporate or online training, and through technical schools.
- Experience – You’ll also want to get practical leadership experience. You can get that by volunteering for non-profit organizations, finding leadership experiences, and stepping up and taking the lead to tackle challenges you or others face. As you take these steps, you will gain valuable leadership experience that will help you learn, grow, and progress in leadership.
- Seek Mentoring – One of my favorite ways to learn is through the guidance and advice from others. I like to call this, “seeking a mentor.” I like to learn from the experiences they’ve gone through and the pitfalls that held them back at various points in their leadership journey. There are two ways that I learn that. I seek mentors who have gone through leadership challenges and setbacks, but made it through successfully. It’s not always possible to find a local mentor so in those situations, find a coach that can help you from a distance. You can also join a related group on Facebook, LinkedIn, or some other online platform. If you are still having a hard time finding someone to help, read the best books available so you can gain valuable perspectives. What’s most important in all this, is that you find someone that helps and guides you to progress on your journey.
In the days and weeks prior to your leadership resistance, identify forms the resistance might take. Then prepare so that you are ready to face it head on.
For example, if you have to give a crucial speech that you fear may not be well received, practice going through it over and over again prior to the actual experience. Give it to a friend, family member, or close acquaintance and have them act as the resistance. Have them say things and ask you questions you might be asked. Play out the scenario as if you are in front of the resistance.
Going through the scenarios may seem awkward at first, but it is a very common approach. People in politics, sports, law enforcement, emergency response, and a variety of other professions run through scenarios regularly to prepare for moments of adversity and resistance. This preparation makes everything go more smoothly when you face the resistance.
3. Get Started
Plans and preparation are important, but the third strategy is most important. Just get started! When Cassie and I decided to go on the bike ride, we made great plans, prepared beforehand, and got to the trailhead. But, that would have been for naught, if we didn’t get going and start moving. We had to start peddling to move forward on the trail. As we progressed, we made adjustments on our line and modified small aspects of our course.
In leadership, even if you are analytical like me, don’t get paralysis of analysis and just sit there over-analyzing the situation to death. Ultimately, no matter which route you take, there will likely be resistance and easier times. It is much more important that you move in the right direction, than you move there in the most perfect way. Like the Nike slogan says, “Just do it!” Get started and begin taking steps today to move forward even in the face of resistance.
4. Confront Resistance Head-on
The fourth strategy is to confront resistance head-on. Once Cassie and I were progressing up the trail, we faced some large rocks on the trail that we had to go around. There were some big ruts that could’ve wiped us out. And, there were occasional high winds that could’ve blown us off course, if we would have let them.
Regardless of your leadership path, just like for us on our ride, you will face resistance. Don’t let the resistance get the best of you. Be strong, have courage, and face the resistance head on!
What does that mean and how does it look to face the resistance head on? Here are four tips to face the resistance:
Tip #1 — Get Out of Your Comfort Zone Regularly
You can do that by finding opportunities to be uncomfortable. Now, not in the awkward sense… just by doing things you have never done before! Things that cause you to stretch and grow.
Tip #2 — Take Massive Action
Be smart and work very hard to take action every moment of every day. In the beginning of my leadership journey, I led a group of young people in a non-profit organization. We had to share our message with as many people as we could every day. As a group, we all made the goal to not let even a second go by each day that we weren’t putting forth our best effort. That is really what it takes!
As you take action, be persistent and don’t give up easily.
Tip #3 — Change Your Mindset
It is easy to get down on ourselves and feel pessimistic when we face resistance. Instead, be optimistic. Think of all the challenges you had in the past and all the things you have overcome. If you did it then, why can’t you do it again now! You can do it! The future is brighter than ever!
Begin thinking in terms of opportunity. Every new challenge or experience with the resistance is an opportunity for learning, growth, and progress. That is a great thing for each of us!
Think outside the box. We often get stuck in the mold of resolving problems in a specific way. Think of other approaches, even off the wall solutions that would never work. By doing that, your mind will expand and new solutions will come into view.
Lastly, get in the habit of saying, “I can do it!” and “I can make it happen!” By changing the words you say, you will gradually change your mindset and have a more positive outlook. That goes right along with the saying, “Fake it, until you make it!” As you say, “I can do it!” you will gradually develop more faith in yourself and your ability to overcome the resistance!
Tip #4 — Embrace the Struggle
It’s not easy which makes it worth it! I was recently spoke with a coach of mine and told him the challenges I was having. He said, “I never said this was going to be easy! But, it is definitely worth it!”
Don’t be afraid of the struggles you will have, as you face the resistance. Be tough and work through it!
Beating the resistance is no cake walk. It’s going to be miserable at times. It’s going to be the last thing you want to do on most days. But, there is major satisfaction when you can look the resistance in the face and say, “I beat you fair and square, and I am better as a result!” In the end, you’ll be proud of what you accomplished, rather than disappointed in what you didn’t.
5. Keep At It!
The fifth and final point to overcome the resistance is to just keep at it! When Cassie and I finally made it to the top of our long bike ride, we thought the toughest part was behind us and it would be a quick and easy ride to the bottom.
Little did we know that Cassie would get a flat tire and I would have to ride down, get the truck, and come back to get her so she could ride down and enjoy the ride. When she got the flat, we decided to just keep at it. We weren’t going to let a little flat tire ruin the fun we were having that day, so we adjusted and just kept doing it!
On your leadership journey, there will be challenges, difficulties, and other forms of resistance throughout. Don’t let those tough times get the better of you. Have fun and enjoy the ride by keeping at it!
What does that mean? It means you get up when you get knocked down! Fight through every challenge that comes your way! If your current way forward is blocked, take an alternative course! Also, be strategic by thinking of other ways to solve challenges.
Your challenges and the resistance you face, is only as strong as you let it be. Don’t let the challenges have any power over you. Just keep at it to accomplish your leadership goals and desires.
Now that we are nearing the end of this episode, I am going to quickly recap the five strategies to overcome the resistance on your leadership journey. They are:
- Have a Plan
- Be Prepared
- Get Started
- Confront the Resistance Head-on
- Keep At it!
Following these five steps won’t eliminate the resistance altogether, but it will make it much easier to overcome! Be strong and keep up the good fight!
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