September 16, 2020

Worn Down? Three Ways to Rise Up

Leadership in corporate America can be exhausting. We are fatigued by the daily barrage of news we must read to stay smart on current events. It takes a great deal of mental stamina to pause, reflect, and weigh in thoughtfully on issues of race and social injustice. Yet acknowledging these issues in the workplace is critical as leaders.

When I was a kid and my brothers and I wanted something, we’d say, “Let’s wear Mom down.” That meant each of us would individually approach her and present our case, hoping that, eventually, four pleas would work better than one. I’m sure my mom felt weary when she was greeted at the door with repeated enthusiastic appeals after working multiple jobs to put food on the table. It always impressed me how she would wake up every day with a fresh resolve and do it all over again.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m on the receiving end of the constant pressure we used to apply with my mom. Except the root causes of today’s pressures are much more daunting than the reasons we tested our persuasion as kids. Who would ever have guessed a pandemic compounded by disturbing social events and, as if they weren’t enough, recent natural disasters would be the backdrop of our workplace?

Leadership in corporate America can be exhausting. We are fatigued by the daily barrage of news we must read to stay smart on current events. We are leery of opening our feeds online and finding more that we have to reconcile with our own truths. It takes a great deal of mental stamina to pause, reflect, and weigh in thoughtfully on issues of race and social injustice. Yet acknowledging these issues in the workplace is critical as leaders. Otherwise, we appear to be tone deaf.

When we’re the most tired is precisely when we need to press on. We need to dust ourselves off every day and head right back into battle.

Steadfast leadership is about tenacity

Leadership is about finding your inner reserves and stepping up when others are losing steam. I know what you’re feeling because I’m feeling it too. It’s been a long haul, having survived the ups and downs of the past six months, but we still have a long road ahead until life settles back into a steadier state. Think about the cadence of your work, when it makes sense to refuel, and what’s required to sustain you during this marathon.

Steadfast leadership is about intentionality

Try to envision where you want to be and focus on aligning your journey with your goals. Can you describe what your efforts should look like during the journey? Does your intentionality account for your personal well-being so you have the will to wake up and recommit to your fight? Your intentional focus on the incremental steps between where you are and where you want to be is what fuels your ability to be uncompromising. 

Steadfast leadership is about passion

I know there’s a lot that’s drawing from your fuel tank right now, but I’ve found that when I remind myself of the “why” behind my efforts, I’m further energized and connected to my passion. What is your why, and does it align with your personal values and goals? For my mom, her why was giving my brothers and me a chance at a better future. That’s what relit her pilot every day. What keeps your pilot burning?

Leadership can be exhausting, but if we stepped away from everything that presented the smallest amount of resistance, imagine how unfulfilling life would be? Staying in the fight is life-affirming. Don’t ever let something that’s hard, but right, get in the way of you reaching your goals. Equally important, try not to let outside influences wear you down. Instead, consider what steadfastness might look like in your life so you can rise up and meet your next challenge. 


One of my greatest passions in life is helping leaders find their fights. If this article has helped you hone in on your personal fight, I recommend you sign up for my newsletter. Every month, I share meaningful life lessons and leadership strategies that I’ve learned throughout my career. 

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