Resilient Leaders are Tenacious

Resilient Leaderrship and decision making
Resilient Leaders image

Resilient Leadership: Decision Making

There has been this intrusive myth that the best leaders are the ones who make the best decisions. However, according to a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, one of the four things that set successful leaders apart is the ability to make decisions with speed and conviction. 

In my article, Resilient Leadership Part 1, I reviewed the power of Active Optimism, the baseline of Active Optimism is that you can be an agent of change if you choose to do so. One of the keys to be a change agent is to take decisive action.

The following comes  from the U.S. Navy SEAL Ethos:

In the absence of orders, I will take charge, lead my teammates, and accomplish the mission. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of power to bear to achieve my mission and the goals established. The execution of my duties will be swift. Yet guided by the very principles I serve to defend. By wearing the Trident, I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life.

A resilient leader can rebound from adversity, challenges, and setbacks.

All too often, in today’s world, we see a few people, even leaders who fail to take responsibility for their decisions. Blame will be shared, responsibility will be avoided, and decisions will be null and void.

Please do not fall into the trap of indecision.

The second component of Resilient Leadership is Decisive Action.

Decisive action does at least three things:

  1. It helps mitigate adversity.
  • It helps rebound from adversity.
  • It promotes personal and business growth in the wake of adversity.

Take a moment and think about your own life. Have you ever squandered valuable time, money, or energy because you were unsure of which path to take? I know I have! At the risk of being crass, I have struggled with decision constipation in my own life. And while I could spend much time in therapy ruminating about it, which would be useless, I have and am learning to make a decision. If it is the wrong one, I can always adjust.

Remember the old saying, “The early bird gets the worm.” 

I believe that people who succeed in life act when opportunities arrive.

If you look at successful businesses and ministries, proactive decision making usually leads to creating trends rather than following them. Whoever thought Amazon would become what it is today?

At this moment, I am writing on any Apple MacBook Pro and cross-referencing on my iPhone XR.

Let’s look at Apple for a moment.

Steve Jobs is known as the “Father of the Digital Revolution.” He co-founded the company with Steve Wozniak in 1976, and since then has radically changed the fields of communication, music, literature, and modern cinema. Jobs’ most significant ability was to make decisions and push through to fruition.

Everyone pretty much agrees that Wozniak was the brains behind Apple. But Jobs was the driving force behind the rapid growth of Apple and its related ventures. He had a unique ability to see future markets, look beyond existing limitations, and create non-traditional business models.

At a Macworld conference, Jobs once said, “There is an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love: ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Being decisive not only helps you mitigate adversity, but it also helps team members in rebounding from adversity.

Acting quickly and decisively reduces stress and empowers others to push through challenges and adversity. 

Practically speaking, the most powerful way to push through some types of adversity is resisting the pressure of psychological avoidance and paralysis by doing something to help yourself and others. Take action. Make mistakes. Gain strength by identifying and going after a meaningful goal.

Albert Bandura concluded, after forty years of research, that the single best way to promote self-esteem, self-empowerment, and resilience is through achievement.

Decisiveness does promote growth in the wake of adversity.

Dr. Marty Seligman, in his book, The Optimistic Child, argues, “Our society has shifted from an achieving society to a feel-good society. Up until the ’60s, personal achievement was the most important goal to instill in our children.”

In recent years, the goal has shifted from achievement purposes to happiness and self-esteem.

Seligman says you cannot teach self-esteem. Self-esteem is the result of failures and succeeding in the world. It is earned, not given. 

In his book AntifragileNassim Nicholas explains how people and organizations can persist despite certain black swan events (an unforeseen or unpredictable event) thrown by life and gain more strength on the way. Much like when various germs test our immune system, it builds more immunity.  

Nicholas uses some convenient ways to describe this process.

Fragile things break quickly and need to be handled with care. Take, for example, a china teacup.

Resilient things can tolerate shock, setbacks, and adversity. Have you ever noticed that plastic cups never break when they fall?

Nicholas has framed the term ‘Antifragile’ to denote things that thrive and grow in a challenging environment.

There is an old saying that says, “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.”

Virginia Satir once noted, “Most people prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty. 

Do you want to become more decisive? Do you want to up your game in the area of taking personal responsibility? Here are six solutions, antidotes, if you will, for six of the most deadly threats that may be holding you back.

  1. The issue: Petrifying fear of failure. Here are some examples of people who engaged their fear of failure:

Charlize Theron. When Theron was 15, she witnessed her mother shoot her alcoholic father in the act of self-defense. Instead of letting the trauma immobilize her ambition, Theron channeled her energy into making a name for herself. She would eventually become one of the most respected and talented actresses, becoming the first South African actress to win an Academy Award.

Michael Jordan missed more than half of the shots he took. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade and lost every public election he entered until being elected Prime Minister of Great Britain at age 62. “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm…Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

2.  The Issue: Fear of being made fun of for being different.

3. Procrastination: The one I struggle with the most. Waiting too long to act. Another way of putting it is closet perfectionism. The desire to wait until the moment of absolute certainty before making a decision can be compelling.

4. Failure to communicate clearly. Here is a formula that may help.

 Describe the need to act or change in some way. This action could be related to a personnel issue, a market issue, or some other type of unanticipated change.  

 Describe the cause of the problem.

 Describe the effects of the problem; both realized and anticipated.

 Describe what specific actions need to take.

 Describe, if relevant, what actions need to be taken to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of the problem 

5. Involving too many people in the problem-solving process can be seen as an attempt to please all the right people or to attain perfection.

Solutions: Study how other successful leaders manage this part of their journey.

6. Being overwhelmed by too much information


   Remember the 80-20 rule; 80 percent of the problem comes from 20 percent of the potential sources. Or use Ockham’s razor (the law of simplicity): When faced with competing alternative courses of action, choose the one that rests on the fewest assumptions.

7. Losing focus.

Albert Einstein said, “Genius is the ability to focus on one particular thing for a long time without losing concentration.”

Excerpt from The No Fear Entrepreneur

So many entrepreneurs and ministry leaders fail to build their business/ministry because they are trying to do too much. The primary reason they experience frustration, as opposed to feeling a sense of accomplishment, is a lack of focus.

Dr. Tom Barrett says, ”Focus is the birth canal through which dreams become a reality.”

As a businessperson or ministry leader, your success or failure will be a direct result of how well you maximize your strengths, your passion, and your “Why.” Your strengths are those activities you naturally enjoy doing and would do them for free your entire life if necessary. Every great entrepreneur in history who has experienced success has done so by doing what they loved and loving what they do.

One of my favorite authors, Simone Sinek, says, “Optimism is the ability to focus on where we’re going, not where we‏ have come from.’ If you are looking for an exceptional resource to help clarify your why I wholeheartedly recommend his book, Start with Why? While you are at it, check out this TED talk he gave a few years ago concerning the importance of knowing your why. 

In my work as a leadership coach, I like to ask my clients five simple questions.

1. What makes you come alive?
2. What are your core strengths?
3. Where do you add the most significant value?
4. What is your mission, your why?
5. How will you measure your life?
6. What is holding you back?

Solution: Apply this variation of Pascal’s Wager, sometimes referred to as the best-case/worst-case analysis. 

When faced with a challenging decision, ask yourself these questions: 

  • What’s the best thing that’s likely to happen if I act? 
  •  What’s the worst thing that’s likely to happen if I act? 
  •  What’s the best thing that’s likely to happen if I do not act? 
  •  What’s the worst thing that’s likely to happen if I do not act? 
  • Then make your choice.

Ancient Widson.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seelk his will in all that you do and he will show you the path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT


Choose one thing that will help you become more decisive and increase your responsibility.

Everly Jr., George. Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed. AMACOM. Kindle Edition.

Resilient Leadership Wins, Part 1

“You must manage yourself before you can lead others.” Zig Ziglar

Your true leadership abilities or lack of them will reveal themselves in a crisis. 

At that moment when the crap hits the fan, you will either rise to the occasion or crash and burn. You will either be a resilient leader, or you will cower to the pressure.

I know this from personal experience as a Certified Corporate Response Specialist.

Over the past 12 years, I have responded to over 150 disruptive workplace events ranging from layoffs to mass shootings, and I have personally observed both exceptional and impotent leadership

In this article, I will give you some of the best researched and most up-to-date strategies for being ready for whatever crisis comes your way. You have both the joy and the responsibility to be a resilient leader to those you are responsible for. Why? Because resilient leaders make things happen in both their personal life and in the business world.

When you implement these principles, you will be able to be a compassionate, clear-headed leader, even on your worst day.

Preparing for “bad days” really means becoming more resilient both before, during, and after an adverse event, even natural human-made disasters. Being ready can be one of the most valuable things you can ever do, especially when facing potentially life-changing circumstances (Everly 2019).

In reviewing people and companies who have overcome adversity, there seem to be five core psychological/behavioral factors that leaders have to take their organization through tough times. Here they are:

  1. Active Optimism – the deep belief and conviction that life events will turn out well, primarily because one believes she/he can contribute and assist in making things turn out well. Active Optimism is much more than just a belief. It is a mandate for change. It is a gut reaction to move forward when others are retreating.
  2. Decisiveness – the ability to overcome the “paralysis by analysis and make difficult decisions. You must be decisive and act to move forward. You have to acquire the courage to make difficult decisions. Making these decisions is easier when you are rooted in your…
  3. Moral Compass – the ability to evaluate one’s actions against the gold standard of honor, integrity, fidelity, and ethical behavior. Once you make your decision/you will need to employ…
  4. Relentless Tenacity, Determination, and Grit. A key ingredient in being tenacious is knowing when to pursue a course of action, and when to quit. To discover hidden opportunities, build your resilience, and boost physical, spiritual, and psychological energy, you will need to rely on…
  5. Interpersonal Support – Who has your six o’clock, your back. While we are more connected than every before, research tells us that we are more lonely than any time in history. To be effective, you have to have to be connected to others.

Of these five, there are two that stood out as the most influential, and they were Active Optimism and Self Efficacy.

Active Optimism

The first trait of a resilient person has engaged Optimism. The core belief that life events will turn out well, mainly because one believes she/he possess the ability to assist in making things turn out well. For the Christian, it may sound like the Apostle Paul’s reminder in Philippians 1:6, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

One of the keys to understanding active Optimism is to realize it is not some “pie in the sky, and the world is all rainbows and lollipops.”Dynamic Optimism is based on having realistic expectations.

Another key to understanding dynamic Optimism is to understand the term self-efficacy. This term coined by Dr. Albert Bandura (1977; 1997) and means “beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments.” Another definition is the person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a given situation. (Thurman 2017)

My question is; Why do so many Christian businessmen and women, ministry leaders, and others struggle with this idea.
I think it is because of our mindset. I do not believe it is a matter of faith, but more about our mindset.

So John, what are some things I can do to increase my Optimism?

Part of developing active Optimism has the right mindset.

Dr. Carolyn Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success looks into this matter with great skill and practical insights.
Here is an excerpt from one of my blogs from a couple of years ago.

First, choose to shift into a “growth mindset.”Dr. Carol Dweck, the author of mindset, spent her life researching the origins of mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes. Her findings give us two options, a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. (Thurman 2017)

A “fixed mindset” is one in which you believe you are born with a particular set of talents, abilities, and intelligence—all of which are unchangeable. Some people with a fixed mindset may find it harder to experience life change and growth. As a result, a fixed-mindset person fails to develop his abilities and is more likely to give up or become distracted and feel depressed when he fails to make the grade in his own eyes. I believe this is where so many fruitless Christians are stuck; they think they have no power to change, which is a lie from the pit of hell. In my first book Get a Grip on Depression, I reveal six of the most common, fixed mindsets, or “stinking thinking”patterns that can hold us back. Why not order a copy today.

A person with a growth mindset begins in a different place. When you have a growth mindset, you see yourself and others as more flexible, adaptable, and hopeful. Way down inside, you know the potential for growth and development. With faith, the proper motivation, effort, moral compass, and concentration, you can make the changes you need to make. A person who has a growth mindset does not take failure so personally. That individual tends to see failure as an opportunity for growth. If one path does not work, then the person will try another.

As a Christian therapist, I believe the Bible continually teaches the benefit of being growth-minded. I believe God is active in time, space, and history, and He has a vibrant, life-fulfilling plan for each of us. The Bible gives us truth, hope, and stories of those who have gone before us and have found such purpose.

From my struggle in this area, I know working toward a growth mindset in the middle of depression may seem close to impossible. However, the truth found in the Bible is, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”(Philippians 4:13 NLT). This confidence is not some magical incantation or mystical, spiritual event, but it is a process or a journey.

In addition to checking out your mindset, here are four more ways to increase Active Optimism. (Thurman 2017)

1.Being successful at something. Actual success builds the belief that one can be successful in the future. Past achievements, no matter how small, are the building blocks for future achievements.

2. Vicarious experiences (observational learning, modeling, imitation) increase the overall confidence of people observe the actions of others. For example, my wife is a Senior Leader in Premier Designs Jewelry; she has been involved with this outstanding company for the past 25 years. Over these years, she has shared her story of abuse, recurrent major depression, and suffering a Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury and how she built her business in spite of those challenges. Her hope is by sharing her story; she will inspire her audiences to embrace their problems with a growth mindset and trust the Lord to bless.

3.Verbal persuasion and encouragement from others enhance self-esteem and resilience. Parents, leaders, coaches, co-workers, and teammates have a positive impact on self-efficacy. These various sources of support help set the stage for success. Finding a supportive and encouraging mentor can mean the difference between failure and success in nearly every area of one’s life.

4. Learning to control one’s impulses, emotions, and reactivity under stress and adversity can convey confidence, which translates into proactive resilience.

So, what do you want to do? Are you happy where you are? Alternatively, do you want to work on a reset, moving towards a growth mindset, and a more optimistic world view? The Lord put you on this earth to have an impact! One of the ways you can move out of the shadows and into the light is to open your mind to the things the Lord wants to show you and have the courage to live with an optimistic world view.

I do provide private leadership coaching, if you ae interested in a free 30 minute consultation email me Type Free Consultation in the Subject Line.