My Biggest Leadership Struggle

Steven Snyder’s book Leadership and the Art of Struggle inspired this guest blog post by Becky Robinson. This week is the official launch of Steven’s book. You can buy it on Amazon or read a free preview and learn more at


Leadership and the Art of StruggleAs I’ve been working with Steven Snyder to launch his book, Leadership and the Art of Struggle, central to my attraction to the book is the reality that it comforts me to hear a successful leader, as Snyder is, bring to light the reality that struggle is inherent in life  — and leadership.

We struggle because we are alive. We are human.

To project anything different would be disingenuous.

If there is any success, any breakthrough, any progress, any difference to be made in the world, it is hard-won, through the daily struggle to do the work and be the people we want to be.

We all face struggles and our struggles are a common ground. They can become a place of connection  when we admit and own our struggles.

Often, our struggles are well-hidden from the world. I would prefer to err on the side of oversharing struggle, to create the possibility of helping someone else, than to build walls with an image of perfection.

My biggest struggle as a leader so far is a struggle of confidence: confidence in my place in the world, my value to others, and my ability to do the big things I am setting out to do.

It is certainly a journey, one I can trace back to childhood and that inner voice of doubt that whispered insidiously: You are not enough. You do not measure up.

Most days I successfully vanquish that voice, but it is not completely silenced, and the struggle for confidence is one I gladly bear, especially as admitting my own struggle for confidence enables me to bring confidence and encouragement to others.

Knowing the barbs whispers of self doubt, I can speak truth to others who struggle, giving encouragement:

You can do this.

Your work is excellent.

You are wonderful.

You are enough.

What struggles have you faced as a leader? How can you share your struggles to connect meaningfully with others?



Leadership reading for corralling inner critics

Overcoming fear and failure was a pervasive theme in our research and work this past week. If you’re too tough on yourself or your inner critic has taken over, you’ll find good insights here about regaining control and pushing through to success. Enjoy!

Successful Women Make All the Right Mistakes (Rania Anderson, The Way Women Work) Continue reading


Failure Is An Event…Not A Person

Jennifer Olney is the Founder of GingerConsulting, specializing in working with organizations to create brand strategy, graphic design and creative marketing programs. Additionally, Jennifer hosts the #bealeader™ community and weekly #bealeader™ chat exclusively on Twitter.  She also serves as a business mentor to individuals and organizations in need of leadership development and training.  Reach Jennifer on Twitter at @gingerconsult or on her website.

We all fail. There is it. Simple and plain, no one has ever not failed in life. No one.  It happens to all of us at some point in our journey. Not one of us can claim the moniker of perfection. We are imperfect in our own unique ways.

So I have to ask, why is it then that is so many of us take failure personally?  Why do we take it to heart and attach “failure” as a label to ourselves? Processes fail, ideas fail, but failure is not a person.  As I’ve said, no one is perfect, so why would we beat ourselves up for failures? Failures are a chance to learn what is not working, what isn’t “perfect” and change the game. Continue reading


In praise of mad genius

When Amy and I started offering elearning, we had a business plan full of charts, models and projections. We’d both come out of Fortune 100 companies so we knew the drill. Former bosses would have been proud.

While we were planning rich, the elearning business didn’t unfold as we had expected. The logic was undeniable, yet what we hadn’t counted on was serendipity.

Business planning is fairly linear. Risks and contingencies are accounted for, but their impact must be minimized. The outside chance needs to remain just that – the outside chance. Continue reading


Weekly Leadership Reading

These items intrigued the BIG team this past week. Reflec, then lead BIG, think BIG, dream BIG and be BIG.

Embracing Failure (Bruce Lynn, Leadership and Management / Turning Adversity to Advantage)

Three insights for embracing failure + great quotes + reading resources = good post to bolster your confidence and courage to pick yourself up and try again instead of giving up.

The trouble with big companies… (Hugh MacLeod, Gapingvoid)

Many times less is more; and for people who have worked in super large corporations where you’re little more than a number, well, this cartoon is a blast.

The Power Paradox (Dacher Keltner, Greater Good)

“True power requires modesty and empathy, not force and coercion. But what people want from leaders—social intelligence—is what is damaged by the experience of power.” Dacher offers three myths of power to be overcome so we can promote a “different model of power, one rooted in social intelligence, responsibility, and cooperation.”

10 Mistakes Every Leader Should Make (and learn from) before They Die (Dan McCarthy, Great Leadership)

In this timeless post, Dan lists ten teachable moments for leaders who are willing to “take a risk – fall down – pick themselves up and dust themselves off – reflect on what they’ve learned – learn new skills and behaviors, and incorporate them into their leadership repertoire.”

The Myth of Potential (Mike Myatt, N2Growth)

If you considering, even a smidge, of resting on your “potential” - don’t, says Mike. “The cold hard truth is you’re not special because of your potential, you’re special because of your dogged pursuit of your potential, and you’re even more special when you achieve your potential.”

Thoughts on our “immunity to change” from Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey: “That ‘change makes us uncomfortable’ is now one of the most widely promoted, widely accepted, and under-considered half-truths around…. [I]t is not change by itself that makes us uncomfortable; it is not even change that involves taking on something very difficult. Rather, it is change that leaves us feeling defenseless before the dangers we ‘know’ to be present that causes us anxiety.”