Leaders make modifications when needed for success

When I was nine years old, I started and then quit 4-H. Dad had suggested I join and wasn’t too happy when I quit. He didn’t say much but I knew he was disappointed. Not joining 4-H would have been acceptable to him but quitting was not. The next year, I rejoined and stayed for seven extremely rewarding years.

Dad also encouraged his boys to play football. He played football in college at what was renamed Western Kentucky University in 1966.

One Christmas, Dad bought helmets and shoulder pads for all three of his boys. I followed my older brother Joe playing football in the churchyard at Malaga. My first official football team was in junior high. I joined my high school team as a freshman and spent the season standing on the sidelines.

Three days before choosing our pads for my sophomore year, I had a hernia operation. Obviously, it took a few weeks for me to get back to full health. By this time, I was on the team that the first string played against during practice.

I had pretty severe acne on my chest and every time one of the older players hit me in the chest, it felt like I was stabbed with a knife.

I kept my pain to myself and fought the tears occasionally. After complaining several times about the pain to Mom and she suggested I quit. I knew Dad would be disappointed again so I hung in there and took the pain day by day. Joe also would have teased me unmercifully. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done.

My junior year, Joe had graduated and enrolled at Western Kentucky University.

Our team only lost two games that year and my senior year we were undefeated. Ever since, I have been glad I suffered through that sophomore year. It was a significant lesson for my life.

Perseverance is a great quality of successful leaders. When I was in the coal mine for six years, I couldn’t see how to make even half as much money without a college degree.

Determinedly, I took a course each quarter at the Ohio University Branch in St. Clairsville. I also took as many correspondence courses as Ohio University that I had the time to do. In 1980, I finally completed my undergraduate degree and my masters in 1982. These degrees allowed me to make a transition in my life.

When work situations or processes are difficult or seem to be impossible, the best leaders make modifications or invent a path forward to success. For those leaders, the motto of try and try again enables them to progress in positive ways. You may not end up exactly where you expected 10 years ago but in most cases you will be in a better place. I believe moving is better than stagnation. However, the toughest situations need a well-thought out plan.

R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray’s new book, “And My Brother Jack,” or his leadership and communication development business, visit his website, raycomlearning.com.


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