The year is 1965. A U.S. Navy pilot has just ejected from his stricken fighter jet over enemy territory. He had a moment to himself as he floated, slowly back to earth and into enemy hands. Here’s what he said to himself on the way down. “I’m leaving the world of technology and entering the world of Epictetus.” You see, this pilot was a student of history. He had studied Stoicism and stumbled onto the slave turned Roman philosopher, Epictetus, along the way. On the way down, he primed himself to survive whatever hell lay ahead. He didn’t panic. He didn’t have an anxiety attack. He didn’t blame his boss, bride, or brothers. Instead, he prepared himself mentally for what lie ahead.
Today, as you go to work and live your day to day life, remember to prepare for the coming struggle. Most of us will never face the kinda struggle this pilot faced, but none of us will get out of here without facing plenty of pain. Prepare now. Prepare the script you want to tell yourself. Prepare the action you want to take. Prepare the kind of second nature you expect to habituate in the struggle. Prepare now. Train the brain, first. Train the rest, next. Good.
As I listened to kman’s leadership team this morning, I was reminded how high the bar of preparation really is for each and every leader. Whatever bar you hold your team to leader, remember your bar is always higher. Nobody goes through the wall for the leader they perceive to be as accountable as they are. We want more. We want to know our leader showed up early and stayed late. We expect our leaders to have pre-loaded a response for our adversities. We expect them to know the best way ’round. And, we want them to make us better, know when we need help, and know when to let us go it alone. We expect more from our leaders than we do from ourselves. Not fair. Fact. And, just like that pilot back in 1965 your actions, leader, in these kinda moments are going to define you and your leadership for years to come. Prepare. No excuses.
That pilot, by the way – Admiral James Stockdale. Good. No, Good to Great…