I have missed seeing many of you in person this year as face-to-face events have been canceled and schedules have changed. Like many public speakers, my calendar looked strangely different after travel restrictions began to take effect in March. In this unique season, I have often found myself, like so many leaders, pondering what the future holds and how to navigate it. Amid all the uncertainty and change, I have been encouraged and challenged by the following reminders and questions:
As the complexity and uncertainty in our world increase, I am challenged to lead intentionally and find ways to help the next generation of leaders thrive. If I feel overwhelmed by the events in our society today, then our kids, teens, and young adults who do not have the perspective that comes with age and experience are even more likely to feel overwhelmed. In times like these, I seek inspiration from those who navigated change and uncertainty in the past.
Winston Churchill is one of my favorite leaders. Notwithstanding his rough childhood, unruly behavior, and peculiar habits, he was a man of conviction. When desperate times called for a determined leader, he rose to the occasion. On June 4, 1940, in light of devastating military losses in the Battle of France, he addressed the House of Commons. The speech he gave that day is one of his most memorable:
“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, 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...”
And they didn’t surrender. Instead, Britain and the Allied powers went on to win a war that spanned the globe. We cannot even comprehend the valor, sacrifice, and conviction of many individuals whose names have been long forgotten. The WWII generation is referred to as the Greatest Generation. I too want to be a part of a great generation. I believe the current uncertainty in our world requires that we embrace an opportunity to lead with purpose and courage.
Our culture today has absorbed the values of deconstruction, tolerance, and entitlement. While not all bad, these influences have eroded and dampened the conviction of many. Perhaps more than ever before, we are in need of dedicated leaders. Are you one of them? What are the firmly held beliefs you would sacrifice for, die for, and lead others to be committed to? Do you lead like Churchill, pursuing your conviction despite the odds? Can others rally around you and receive encouragement and strength from your dedication? May we be leaders who inspire new generations to greatness.
Here are a few strategies to consider as we look to lead with conviction and commitment in a time of uncertainty and change. These strategies are invaluable as we model healthy commitment, and mentor young people in their own sense of conviction.
Dr. Jolene Erlacher is a wife, mommy, author, speaker, college instructor and coffee drinker who is passionate about empowering the next generation of leaders for effective service!