We watched The Revenant this weekend, a movie that is high-testosterone fueled by bravery, survival, and revenge. It’s also a powerful story about a compelling purpose in life. Warning: it’s not a movie for everyone, as there is not one moment of calm and certainly no “feel-good” moments. From the first visuals and music, my body and mind registered extreme fear and the final resolution left me hanging.
Life and business can be scary. Every big idea or goal should create some sense of trepidation. In consulting, we often go after a big, new type of work, land it and then say “Yikes, how are we going to actually do this?” For leaders and teams, the drive to get alignment on a big goal, to paint the vision as big as possible, usually generates the anxiety/excitement of delivering on the promise.
How do we lead with bravery against a big goal?
- Emotional commitment to a shared purpose. In business, leaders and teams will never have the same kind of commitment as evidenced in The Revenant (revenge for the death of a son). But, many teams have or create very big future visions or are handed an external reality or internal challenge that is a bit scary. Most teams begin with an very general objective with some metrics, but do not dig in to crystallize what is compelling to the team and stakeholders. A compelling goal creates a sense of shared purpose.
- Focus on the next hurdle. With the goal in mind, the next set of challenges should consume the team. It’s not about activity or following the plan. It’s about being present and flexible to reality and pushing the team’s concept of possibility.
- Perseverance. In The Revenant, you will see the most extreme perseverance against a devastating bear attack, weather, and betrayal. I’m starting the week with new energy, because nothing I face comes close that those obstacles. Every big vision or goal requires perseverance. Remarkable leaders and teams learn to meet failure, set-backs and disappointment with the ability to re-commit and find a new path to success.
We don’t often think about being in business as requiring bravery, but big goals do require a strong sense of purpose married with a brave spirit .