As I’ve been watching the French Open last week, there have been a few upsets along the way but what I have really been noticing is how those at the top of their game dig deep. When the weather, equipment, opponent, crowds and their own physical condition seem to be working against them, top athletes find the way to dig deep, overcome the adversity of the moment and win the match.
This got me to thinking about a leader that I worked with last year. I’ll call her Sally. Sally shared with me that she had been bumping along for awhile in her role. About six months previously, a new leader had moved into the organization and she was struggling because she was having a hard time aligning with the new leader’s overall vision and approach. After taking some time to understand the new direction, Sally didn’t like where things were heading and so she made a big decision to do something about it. She wasn’t going to stay at her organization because it was costing her too much.
The assessment she made is that these personal costs, her mental and physical health as well as the impact on her nearest and dearest relationships, wasn’t worth staying in her job anymore. She wasn’t being the professional she knew she was or wanted to be at work and this was starting to spill over into her personal life. She had to figure out a new way to win in her career. Sally dug deep and here is how she adjusted:
- Had the Wisdom: staying on the current trajectory—in role, working with the new leader at the same organization—was no longer an option for Sally. She recognized this route was causing her professional reputation to deteriorate.
- Had the Courage: to look for a new organization with a new leader with whom she could more closely align.
- Had the Self-Awareness: revisited her strengths, competencies, interests and values in order to express what she had to contribute to her next opportunity.
- Had the Resilience: kept her inner critic in check by controlling what she could control. She built out a robust work search action campaign—connected with search firms, applied to job postings and spent most days researching and connecting with her network to tap into the hidden job market.
- Had a team: found a career coach and an accountability partner that she checked in with on a frequent basis to share her goals, progress, successes and set-backs to keep her on track and help hold up the mirror to her efforts.
What else would you add to this list for digging deep and overcoming adversity to win in your career?