Rare Leadership – Part 2 of 3

Picture a runner in the desert, all by herself. Classic desert, just sand, for as far as the eye can see. Slowly the scene moves from wide horizons to up close with the runner. Wait, is that a prosthetic leg?

In the meantime it’s the deep voice of Idris Elba telling you that the runner is competing in a 6-day, 250-kilometre (156 miles) marathon called Marathon of the Sands in the Sahara Desert. Last year only 40 out of 1000 runners made it to the finish line.

The shots zoom in more, she takes her hat off while she catches her breath, and your response might be similar to ours as we were watching this with the kids: ‘oh, she’s not young!’

But there’s something youthful about her. Vigorous, lively, relentless. Through the screen run the words ‘Breaking the Pain Barrier.’

Seen Human Playground yet? Labeled as ‘Docuseries’ it tries to find the reasons behind Why We Play

The first episode zooms in on why people seem to accept pain for pleasure, although pleasure might sound too shallow. Purpose perhaps?

No one asked Amy to compete in this race, but there’s a deep inner force driving her to want to do this. A sense of purpose, redemption, fulfilment.

Enduring hardship well.

This is the last of the letters of the acronym for RARE Leadership.

Last week I wrote the first of 3 posts about this book, so give it a quick look in case you missed it.

R – Remain relational

A – Act like yourself

R – Return to joy

E – Endure hardship well

Back to the infinite sandbox for a different analogy. The authors, Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder, use a concept first introduced by Richard Davis in an article for Harvard Business Review titled ‘We Need More Mature Leaders,’ in which he points out that many leaders never make it beyond ‘sandbox behaviour’ and therefore end up being ‘sandbox leaders.’ You get the picture.

“… we seem to be in short supply of adults who act like, well… like adults.”

–Richard Davis in ‘We Need More Mature Leaders’

That’s the opposite of what we see in Amy. ‘Enduring hardship well’ means taking responsibility for our circumstances, emotions, choices and actions. Sun or rain, win or loose, we’re getting through this, and we’ll do it well.

It’s about time we quit the sandbox leadership and start desert leadership.

If we learn to apply these powerful principles as RARE leaders, imagine the things we would get done, without that even being our primary focus.

Next week’s acronym will be sweet, I promise.

Picture used with permission from Human Playground

Share this post

Get fresh inspiration and leadership growth tips

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *