Leading yourself through adversity

The primary responsibility of a leader is to ensure a team or an organization is intentionally always moving forward—even in the face of adversity. Even when the pressure is unrelenting. Even when it requires figuring out the next step as you go.

In those stressful seasons, we often discover our capacity to lead—and our ability to innovate. We are sometimes surprised by our strength and adaptability. We learn truths about ourselves—some reassuring, and some alerting us to how we need to grow. Albert Einstein once said that adversity introduces you to yourself. I have found this to be profoundly true—especially every time I braved a new initiative.

When we launched A21, I was stepping out in obedience, following the leading of the Holy Spirit. But I knew nothing of rescuing slaves. To take on the resistance of traffickers and global criminals was daunting.

When we launched Propel, I was already leading Equip & Empower and A21. I wasn’t looking for a new ministry, but God said to do it. It took a new level of energy and intentionality to add this to my leadership collective.

But I’ve learned to bounce back, to lead myself well through every adversity—that push back we all experience with growth. That trial God warns us will come: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

I must admit, however, that it’s still always tempting to be surprised when challenges come. How critical then for us to know how to grow our capacity and increase our strength so we succeed at fulfilling all our potential. Here are five ways you can lead yourself well through adversity:

  1. Increase your resilience—which is the ability to withstand, recover, adapt and grow in the face of pressure. It is key to your success. “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10).

  2. Focus on what mattersEveryone will volunteer their opinion, but what is God saying to you? What business strategy do you know is your next step? “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7).

  3. Embrace change—Leaders change, and changing things grow. If you’re not changing, you’re not growing. Stretch beyond where you are now so you can grow where you need to go. “Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out” (Romans 12:1-2, The Message Bible).

  4. Know what you can control—which is really only yourself—and trust God with the rest. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

  5. Find support—We are never meant to go it alone. Even when we are the leader. I value my team, my mentors and my confidants. I rely on them all. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Wherever you are in your leadership, to keep progressing, grow where you want to go—especially in times of adversity. Turn the tables on the pressure and use those seasons to grow exponentially. Adopt the attitude of Paul—a true champion of faith: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Take those difficult times on as a challenge and be the champion leader that you are. Lead yourself well.

Christine Caine

Christine Caine is an Australian-born, Greek-blooded activist, author and international speaker. She is cofounder of the anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign, the founder of Propel Women and the author of the new book Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny. For more information visit www.christinecaine.com.

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