Embrace The Suck
There are many opportunities in life for the every-day person to say to themself, “This sucks”. The military seems to have cornered the market on “Things That Can Really Suck” from roadside bombs, to standing post in 10 below zero, or 130 degrees above, to having the thankless job of emptying latrines. While that is not an exhaustive list, it can sometimes be hard to compare those types of situations to your life around the office. As leaders, Things That Suck can be a relative term. However, it would be fair to say that, as a leader, not everything that rolls your way has a pleasing odor about it. In fact, there are many days where you contemplate whether your title is worth the misery.
Hopefully, this is an opportunity to figure out that great leaders are not without problems, but always seem to find a resolution. Lu Lastra, director of mentorship for Naval Special Warfare and a retired Navy SEAL identifies the “suckiest” moments as the time when people find out what they are made of. “It’s one thing to be an excellent athlete when the conditions are perfect, but when circumstances are not so favorable, those who have stronger wills are more likely to rise to victory”.
There are many things that can “suck” for you right now in your leadership zone. Brian Steele lists a few classics such as goal frustration, teammate attitudes, email volumes, and a lack of understanding about what the heck is going on. Over at the “Art of Manliness“, the McKay’s have a great take on failure and frustration. One potential consequence of being unwilling to embrace the suck is becoming risk-averse. Although it may seem natural to avoid things we are bad at, the history of the doers of great deeds are replete with stories of those who kept at it through the frustration of mistake after mistake. Failures are (in a positive light) steps to success. If you don’t take them, you won’t get there.
The quality of perseverance is only developed through the painful experience of frustration, failure, and disappointment. Marcus Luttrell, author of “Lone Survivor”, and a retired SEAL, states that the initial training phase, known as “Hell Week” , provides never-ending opportunities to voluntarily drop from training. He stated that “if the thought of DOR (Drop on Request) enters a man’s head…that element of doubt forever pollutes the mind”. He refers to the tidal wave effect that internal doubt will erode confidence and will.
The Suck is a time to get a snapshot of how you are under pressure and how your teammates are. It is also a good time to find out that you relish The Suck and that your teammates know when It Sucks, you are going to be the one that carries the day. Be proud of that. If it was easy, anyone could do it.