Remember Your “Why?”


Frodo and Sam in MordorThey’d come so far.  They’d gone further than anyone had expected.  The odds had been stacked against them.  Their partnership, though born in humble beginnings, was still intact.  There were still on course.  They’d not varied from their plan, yet it had been far more difficult than they thought.

They were now at a breaking point.  They did not know if they could continue.  In fact, one partner was done.  The other was discouraged, but not disheartened.  One had lost vision.  The other had not had the fires of vision die.

They needed to remember what led them to begin this journey in the first place.  Why were they in the business they were in?  What’s the vision that keeps them moving forward in the face of what appears to be overwhelming opposition?

They needed to remember their “Why?”.

Let’s listen in on their conversation…

Fred: “I can’t do this, Sam.”

Sam:  “I know.  It’s all wrong.  By rights we shouldn’t even be here.  But we are.  It’s like in the great stories Fred.  The ones that really mattered.  Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.  Because how could the end be happy?  How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened?”

“But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.  Even darkness must pass.  A new day will come.  And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.  Those were the stories that stayed with you.  That meant something.  Even if you were too small to understand why.  But I think, Fred, I do understand.  I know now.  Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.  Because they were holding on to something.”

Fred: “What are we holding on to, Sam?”

Sam: “That there’s some good in this world, Fred. And it’s worth fighting for.”

Have you ever found yourself at the point of losing your vision?  Caving in to the opposition that’s set against you?

If you have, then you’re in a similar place in which Sam and Fred found themselves.  Or should I say, Sam and “Frodo”?  This dialogue is from a scene in the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

A tale of epic proportions indeed.

Is your story an epic tale?

You may see your story as ordinary – nothing exceptional, nothing extra-ordinary.  If you see your life and your leadership this way I would suggest you are looking through the wrong lens.

Your life is an extra-ordinary tale of impact and influence.  No matter what your sphere of relational influence is, you have the capability of having great influence in the lives of others.  Any leader has the opportunity to create significant change in the lives of those they lead.  Especially if that leader recognizes that leadership is simply about helping people be better.

In the midst of difficulty we must remind ourselves, and remind each other, of the good our work contributes to and creates in the lives of others.  What is the bottom line good you create in the lives of the people you lead and in the lives of your customers?

We as leaders have the great privilege and pleasure of making people’s lives better.  Anyone who has committed to somehow contribute their time, talent and treasure to help others is adding good to the world.

If we’re going to maintain hope and commitment to our work, in the midst of difficulties, we need to begin to see our work through an epic lens.  We can choose to see what we do the same way that Samwise Gamgee saw the epic adventure of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Is your story not filled with triumph, tragedy, victory, defeat, struggle, striving, joy, celebration, friends, foes, dangers and delights?  Then it is indeed epic.

Define your “why?” in epic terms and your ability to persevere through trials will grow.  Perhaps you should ask the question Sam asked at the end of the Two Towers, prior to the end of their saga:

“I wonder if we’ll ever be put into songs or tales?”

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Leading and Living on Purpose.