2020 will go down in the history books as a year that took the world by surprise and put us all squarely into the eye of a storm we didn’t see coming. A year that challenged the most experienced, capable and resilient leaders. None were immune and the thought-provoking quote from Haruki Murakami says it eloquently, “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked into it.”
At the start of the pandemic, I knew we were heading into a seriously challenging chapter and that I needed to find some perspective rooted in history. I picked up the book “Endurance, Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” that a good friend gave me and I couldn’t put it down. The story reveals the strength of the human spirit in the face of extreme adversity. The narrative shows the character and depth of Shackleton’s leadership and the connection and cooperation of his crew, it shows their resilience and tenacity while faced with overwhelming odds. It reminded me of the importance of endurance in the face of extreme challenges, the power of perspective, the necessity of living and leading through values and who’s in your boat.
Shackleton’s story helped me reflect on how I wanted to lead through this storm. It was a reminder that stories help inform and shape how we see ourselves, what we need to change, to fill in knowledge gaps or simply to help us see outside of ourselves. Plans for life, career, and business rarely go according to plan. Breakthroughs and unlocks happen when things aren’t going as expected, they happen when necessity forces invention and adaptation, and when we listen to the challenges and adventures of others.
The “What I Wish I Knew” podcast with hosts Mike Irwin and Simon Daw explore lessons learned by creators, entrepreneurs, leaders, writers and athletes. They asked me to join their adventure and share my story Making the Common Good Common Again with Shawn Parr. Their thought-provoking questions helped remind me of the ground I’ve covered, what I’ve learned and how much I still have to learn and contribute. We each have a story to share and a part to play in helping to make this world a better place. Spending time with Mike and Simon reminded me how important it is to reflect and follow your purpose, no matter what is happening around you, even in the midst of a storm.