“The art of living is always to make a good thing out of a bad thing”

-E.F. Schumacher

The past several months we have had plenty of time in place, and the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to appear. As life begins to return, we wonder when we will get back to normal.

We should be careful what we wish for.

“Normal” has been defined as the state of being usual, typical, or expected. The truth is some of us were not satisfied personally, or professionally, before the crisis.  Do we really want to return to where we were?

What if we aspired to a higher standard?  What if we moved forward to exceptional?

During challenging times there are people who see possibilities through the noise.  They reject following the herd.  Their response to a crisis means defining reality, managing the mess, and leading others toward a better future.  They choose to be exceptional.

Exceptional leaders make a good thing out of a bad thing.

When we are caught in a bad thing, we still have choices.  We can look backward or forward. Crawl under the covers or jump out of bed – the choice is ours.

Many people find security in crawling under the covers and waiting for the “all clear.”  A recent research study on resilience found 50 percent of people experiencing a crisis believe that the worst-case scenario will come true.  Their mindset is driven by fear and not being in control.  In the end, they depend on others and hope for normal.

Exceptional leaders are not dependent on someone else to lead them – they make things happen.

Odds are you may not feel exceptional right now, and that is natural during a crisis.  The freeze we have all been experiencing will take time to thaw.  While we recover, we need to elevate our mindset to higher expectations and new opportunities.

Being an exceptional leader means having a three dimensional mindset: past, present, and future:

Honor the Past

To be able to see clearly ahead we need to understand what is behind us.  Exceptional leaders respect the importance of history and the lessons learned. They understand the past by taking the time to seek the voices of experience, the overlooked wisdom from a wise sage waiting to tell their story. Whose story do you need to hear to move forward?

Engage in the Present

Exceptional leaders are fully engaged in the work: they know the business and what is happening.  They hire great people and put systems in place.  Their model involves setting clear expectations, avoiding micromanagment, and rewarding results.  What is your level of engagement and what needs to change?

Build a Shared Future

Leaders inspire a better tomorrow.  They are a catalyst for individual hope and collective optimism.  We follow exceptional leaders because they identify opportunities, ask what we think, and set a clear direction.  What is your shared vision for the future?

Exceptional leaders shine a light to where we need to go, not back but forward.   

Harry Dixon Loes in the 1920s wrote a famous gospel song for children which became an anthem for the civil rights movement in the 50’s and 60’s.  It continues to inspire young and old today:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine”.

That light is in you – this is your time to make a good thing out of a bad thing.

All My Best,

Todd

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