Sunday, November 17, 2013

When you're fighting a gorilla, you can't stop fighting until the gorilla gets tired.

You're in it.  You're fighting the gorilla, and if you don't keep fighting, well, bad things are going to happen.  You can't stop to catch your breath because you're tired, or your arms hurt, or Maury Povich is going to reveal who the real father is.  You're in a fight for your life against a gorilla, and if you're going to live, you can't stop fighting until the gorilla is ready to stop fighting.  There is ONLY plan A.  Keep fighting.

During WWII, the highest scoring fighter aces were Germans.  They didn't have the option to go back home.  They flew all day, every day, defending their homes.  They couldn't stop fighting, because to stop fighting meant certain death.  To continue fighting might mean death, but it might also mean a chance for life, both for self and for countrymen.  Flying was a sacred trust to serve and protect those others.  The commitment was for a level greater than self.  It's a level of desperation that many people aren't familiar with in our day and age, especially in a country of privilege such as the United States. 

Where does that fit in with business and leadership?  Right smack in the middle, that's where.  As business owners and leaders, those who follow us need to know that we are going to tangle with that gorilla for as long as it takes to get the job done and not a minute less.  People need to know that we will stand up and do the hard things, the undesirable tasks, the excruciating minutia of planning and executing.  They need to know that we are not only willing, but able and more than up to the task of surmounting the insurmountable.  We will keep fighting, because people are counting on us.  The job is more than just for us, now.

When my dad took the training wheels off my bike, I felt a sense of freedom for about twenty-five feet.  Then I felt a sense of scraping and burning as I slid on my elbows and knees across the asphalt of our driveway.  My little brother was watching, though, so I got back up and kept on riding.  It was pride, at first.  Later, I was a bit jealous of how quickly he was able to transition to no training wheels.  I found out that he'd been watching closely what I did that was contrary to the coaching of our dad, and he incorporated that into his success.  Lance Armstrong once had training wheels, you know.  Before Usain Bolt became the fastest man alive, he had to learn to walk.  We all start somewhere, but at some point, our desire to become more than what we are transforms.  It goes from "hey, I'd like to be able to do that" to "this is a thing which I must, under all conditions, accomplish."  German pilots kept flying because they had no other option.  Lance Armstrong's desire to be the best drove him to train longer and harder.  (His desire to win at ANY price cost him his self respect and stripped him of the honor he'd won, but that's a topic covered on the diagonal here, at Marc Militello's blog.) Same with Usain.  With us, it is no different.  Have you reached a place where there is no plan B? where you can't stop doing until it is done?

I was reading Launching a Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, in which they mention a line of scripture.  It also happened that my pastor mentioned this same passage this morning.  It is as follows:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Whatever the gorilla you're fighting looks like, you have to focus on those things which will give you victory.  Anything else MUST wait for later.  You can't quit fighting until the gorilla gets tired.

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