Behind the “Ate” Ball

by | Leadership

Professionals across the country agree on one thing:

They are effective because they spend much time on self-development. Studies indicate that many of them spend as much as 50% of their time servicing their own journey. They are wise. You cannot give what you do not have. From my perspective, the “How” to lead during tough times equals the principle of “ate.” These professionals stand behind, or on, these principles.

During tough times, the following will be of particular benefit:


Separate what you can control from what you cannot control. You may have a tendency to dwell on time-management. Perhaps the larger issue is energy-management.


Inoculate yourself against excessive expectations. The issue here is that when we have excessive expectations of ourselves, we tend to have excessive expectations of others. This is unfortunate because we have different starting points and function at a different pace.


Delegate when it is appropriate. Think “3-Ds”: Do, Drop, Delegate. This concept is mutually beneficial for you and your team. This takes pressure off of you and presents them with the opportunity for growth.


Isolate assumption from communication. Do not assume that they know what you know, what you wish they knew, and how you feel. This will also decrease your pressure.


What Do They See When They See Me Coming? Communication is more than what we have been taught:  source, message, channel, and receiver. Four is one too few. Perception, the fifth element, must be factored into your communication-equation. How others perceive you is your business.


Translate how you feel when you are proud of them. People do not respond to your feelings; they respond to your behavior. Words matter. Be specific and enthusiastic.


Operate with an emphasis on strength-affirmation, not weakness- confrontation. Do affirmation as well as you do confrontation. KISS does not mean “keep it simple stupid”; it means “keep it simple ‘smarty’.” We do not grow when you remind us of how stupid we are. We grow when you remind us of how smart we are. However, there are times when you have to care enough to confront.


Penetrate your thinking with gratitude. The mind is a marvelous mold and holds a vessel. It will not hold “nothing.” Removed negative thoughts must be replaced with something, or they will resurface. Gratitude can be helpful as a replacement of negative thoughts.


Celebrate incremental “finish-ed-ness.” As you become more effective in leading during tough times, celebrate along the way. Put meat on the bones of celebration:  play, have fun, eat well, relax.


Educate yourself. You benefit from an army of allies and an arsenal of resources. The responsibility to grow is yours. Ready begins with r-e-a-d.


Evaluate your thoughts. Think about the thoughts you think. Do not believe everything that you think. Your self-talk is vitally important.


Create a system that perpetually reminds you that are two mandates in leadership. Bring your best as to “character.” Bring your best as to “competency.” Be leery of thought-evaporation. Journal your progress.

Recently, I pulled a bottle of root beer from the refrigerator. In doing so, I knocked another bottle off the shelf. As it careened toward the floor, I thought: “Was that a glass bottle or a plastic bottle?” There is a huge difference. These twelve concepts are glass bottle issues. Directly or indirectly, these concepts will help you service your own journey, and benefit the team. Remember: You cannot give what you do not have.

Servicing your own journey pays significant dividends particularly during tough times.

Stephen is the best-selling author of 26 books, including What Do They See When They See You Coming? He has also written countless articles for a variety of publications and has produced multiple audio books and video programs. Stephen has appeared on PBS Television and XM Sirius Satellite Radio. He continues to hold one of the highest invite-back ratios in the speaking profession.