The story of Panera Bread has resonated with me. I highly appreciate the leadership of Niren Chaudhary. They lost half the business once the dining was closed due to the current crisis. However they took massive action and initiated a grocery initiative within two weeks as a way to address the need for groceries. This is what is known as taking advantage of a white space opportunity. I listened to his interview on the Masters of Scale podcast (link Podcast) and he explained the main mission of Panera Bread was to provide healthy food that supports the wellness of its customers. Now I am really impressed by an idealistic mission which is backed by a responsible leader like Niren. The things he says leaders need to do well are to be calm in the midst of a crisis, take complete accountability and use the stress positively. I will be closely following this story and it could turn out to be a great one. The article that explains this is here. Panera Bread.
Resilience is truly the signature of greatness. This line comes from Jim Collins in one of my favorite books Great by Choice. Please read this quote from Churchill “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Every great leader worth their salt were resilient. They believed in a cause larger than themselves and they defined themselves by impact and contribution. Finding our cause is the main aim of life in my opinion.
Here are some ways we can display resilience and ensure we remain unperturbed by chaos and uncertainty.
Responsibility – As Harry Truman said, “The buck stops with me.” This is truly the attitude of the visionary leader. Always take responsibility for results. Give praise to the team when things go well and take the blame when things go wrong. This builds credibility within the team and leaders should understand that trust is everything.
Energy – You must keep your spirits up despite hostile circumstances, tough conditions and you will be rewarded for your high energy. Take care of your physical body by exercising, good diet and sleeping well. Take care of your mental side by reading, writing in a journal and being around nice people. There is a lot in our control with respect to energy. Bottom line is your resilience will strengthen only with high energy.
Savor – When you are going through tough times the natural state is to be stressed which can also lead to unhappiness. It is in these times that we should savor our lives and appreciate how far we have come. Savoring life boosts happiness and releases pleasure chemicals like serotonin.
Imagination – Think of the alternative and imagine all possibilities. There is always an alternative to our current situation. Another way is to re-frame the story we tell ourselves when things go wrong. We can always find the silver lining on the darkest cloud if we indeed look for it.
Listen – Listening to the situation in progress is important to really make a leap into success through resilience. Listen to the voices in your head about the situation. Journal about the situation and talk about it with a close confidant. Listening is the key to understanding the situation better.
Expectations – Expect the best and as the saying goes plan for best but be prepared for the worst should it fail. We will never rise higher than the expectations we have for ourselves. Any great leader always expects to win even when they are losing. As Vince Lombardi famously said, “We didn’t lose we just ran out of time.”
Novelty – Look at every setback through the lens of novelty. Be prepared for vuja de instead of dejavu. Look at the same situation through a new lens. Every experience is unique and every moment in life is a gift to show what we are capable of.
Class – If we are going to have career spanning decades we need to be classy. Treat people well, be kind, say please and thank you. Relationships are the holy grail of corporate success. When you are going through tough times it is easy to lose our cool and maybe something we may later regret. The best thing is to decide to showcase class in all our interactions no matter how bad the situation is. Of course, this is not easy and neither is leadership.
Enthusiasm – There are 168 hours in a week and everyone gets the same. Even if we work 50 hours we still quite a few hours left to pursue other activities. A full life is one where we enjoy every moment of it and we can fill our hours with life. The best ways to maintain enthusiasm is to make some time to detach from your day to day routine. Find a hobby to commit to (right now it maybe good to find some indoor activities), go to a place you love, watch a sunset, read an inspirational book and take a walk maintaining social distance. Maintaining enthusiasm during tough times will ensure your progress through turbulence is smoother than rockier.
Resilience is indeed the signature of greatness and we all have the capability to display this. Thanks for reading this post.
The views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent my organization. Thanks for reading this post.