Have You Fallen?
Have you fallen? I am not talking about the kind of fall you have when you step off of a stair wrong or when you stumble on some uneven ground. I am talking about a real hard-hitting personal fall.
In late 1914, a 40-year-old civilian head of the British Navy put his political career and future on the line when he developed a plan to open a second front to the fighting in France in what would be known as World War I. This individual full of both bravado and immaturity used his status as the Duke of Marlborough and First Lord of the Admiralty to push through a highly risky plan.
The plan was to attack Turkey, an ally of the Germans, open a direct sea-lane to Russia and bring Greece, Romania and Bulgaria into the War on the side of the British and French.
The campaign failed and cost more than 46,000 Allied troops made up mostly of men from Australia and New Zealand. Right or wrong, the young, brash aristocrat, Winston Churchill was blamed and forced from government. He fell from a position that he thought he could use to propel himself to the role of Prime Minister someday.
Most of us at one time have experienced a fall and to be sure, we will experience many more in our lifetimes. Maybe it was a fall from a bad business decision, maybe it was a fall from what you thought was a solid relationship.
When we fall, there is a process that some people follow in order to come back and experience success again. The following steps have been followed by the successful leaders that I have studied and these steps can help us survive a fall and come back stronger if we follow them.
Stop looking to blame someone else.
It is hard to accept responsibility for a something not going right. It is even harder when we know deep inside of us that the outcome was not entirely our fault.
Looking to find someone else to blame signals to others that we are not ready for responsibility or that we are not secure enough to weather the bad times that come with the role you have. There will be time for analysis and a review of the facts in the future, but at the time of the fall it reflects poorly to try to deflect the criticism.
Take the time to lick your wounds and study what happened.
When we experience a fall, there is a need to get our mind back on track. A real fall can shake us to our core and cause a crisis of confidence.
Whatever activity helps to bring you back to your center and allows you to regroup, DO IT. Many of the leaders that I have studied who suffered a fall went back to activities they did in their youth that brought both enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment. At the same time they engaged in these activities they studied their actions and decisions with an eye towards how to avoid another fall in the future.
Create a new plan of action and then get to it.
Every leader that I have studied came out of their time of banishment with a plan on how they were not only going to get back to where they were but to where they wanted to be. Ordinary people let a fall destroy them or keep them in a place of failure, extraordinary people come back stronger from a fall. The thing that separates the ordinary from the extraordinary is the action taken when the loss of respect, authority and status are lost.
Coach’s Wrap Up
We all experience a fall. Not every fall is the same and some are truly greater than others. Even businesses fall from time to time. When a fall does happen a decision must be made to either let the fall define you or fight to come back stronger and strive for something better.
In the case of Winston Churchill and his fall from political office, he spent some time painting and reflecting on what had happened. He then joined the Army and served in WWI on the front lines in Belgium and France where he began creating memos and letters to those in government about ideas he had about using tanks and airplanes in support of the ground forces. Eventually, he was brought back into government where his ideas were implemented and helped to end the war.
Winston’s fall, set the stage for a slightly more humbled leader who learned and became seasoned enough to lead England through the trials of the Second World War.