CHAPTER ONE Rising from Adversity When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. —Henry Ford, American business magnate and founder of Ford Motor Company Those incredible strengths that are the source of your leadership great- ness and current frustration did not arise from education, training, or advantage. They came from an unlikely source—adversity. All leaders rise from adversity. No one gets into the ranks of leadership unscathed. I’m not implying that there is an arduous hazing ritual for leaders. The difficult experience was often much earlier in the life of a leader, usually well before the individual considered becoming a leader. It was either an event or a series of events in the person’s life. The exact nature of this adversity differs greatly from leader to leader. For some it can be easily identified, such as alcoholic parents, mental or physical abuse, severe bul- lying at school, physical trauma, living in a dangerous area, or the trau- matic death of a loved one. For others, it is less evident, such as trying to be the mediator to fighting parents, attempting to meet the unreasonably high expectations of a well-meaning mentor, or listening wide-eyed to a grandfather’s frequent retelling of his own life horrors. This past stressful experience triggered fear, but the courageous youngster discovered ways to fight back. They reframed the event from an attack to a challenge. They channeled their fear response into steadfast determination or fiery defi- ance. This future leader learned coping skills, developed survival behav- iors, and gained resilience. Through repetition, these survival behaviors became more highly developed abilities. Later in life, they morphed into key leadership strengths—strengths not developed by those individuals
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