I found myself contemplating recent events today after a conversation with a client (video conference of course) in which our client said, “you could not have written the script for the events of the last couple of months.” We were discussing being a leader of an organisation in times such as these. I was reminded of two quotes:

“Harold Mc Millan is purported to have said to a journalist in answer to a question about what he fears most as PM – he answered; events my dear boy – events”.

We can plan and have ambitions for the future but what is clear is that none of us can be certain about what the future holds. The second quote I was reminded of was a quote from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

We all may wish the events that blow us off course had not occurred. What is clear is that we do not get to choose when we live our lives but we do get to choose HOW we live our lives. If the question in our hearts remains “how do I survive all this?” then we will do what it takes to survive, including hunkering down and waiting for things to blow over and change for the better. In which case we may or may not survive.

If we ask ourselves a different question; “how do we flourish and come out of this greater than when we went in?”. Then finding the answers to this question instead, may just drive different exciting actions that makes something unpredictable happen. There has not been an extraordinary leader in history who did not experience seemingly unsurmountable obstacles and setbacks. It is our relationship to the challenges that confront us that has us be the leaders we might aspire to be.

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Franklyn D. Roosevelt 1933

What is the exciting great provocative question you could ask your people today that would have your organisation flourish and come out stronger? Because we will come out of this have no doubt.