I’d say that the odds are high that some annoying and frustrating obstacle will appear in my path today. That assessment is based upon experience, because it happens almost every day. So it will probably happen today.
My daily obstacles run the gamut from copier breakdowns to judges not agreeing with the obvious brilliance of my legal arguments. The former I can fix with a phone call to the repair guy, the latter there is little I can do about except explain it to my client and try to regroup.
I also can try (try) to consider that to the repairman and the judge, my broken copier and legal motion are themselves obstacles for them to breach. I can lower those obstacles for them with proper maintenance and concise and well-made arguments. Or, I can be that jackass who doesn’t change the toner and writes sloppy briefs.
I can also be the guy who makes molehills out of mountains. That sounds simple, but (like most things that do) it must not be, because the man who does that with consistency is rare indeed and in high demand. I’m not talking about a myopic optimist who sees an oncoming train and thinks it a unicorn wearing a headlamp. I’m talking about a man who can clearly assess an obstacle and rightsize it for the men around him so they don’t lose heart.
I love this clip from Kelley’s Heroes. The men have been fighting for days without rest, and are finally given a break but not the means to enjoy it. All hangdog and ready to quit, they complain that We Ain’t Got No Booze. But their leader rightsizes that obstacle for them with a single minute of manly encouragement.
This is what a leader must do. He must anticipate obstacles and encourage his men through them. If he can’t do that, than all the knowing, pointing and persuasion in the world will grind to a halting failure at the foot of the first molehill in their path.
And thus, L4: the fourth indispensable skill of a leader. He can encourage his followers through the obstacles.