"Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity," Louis Pasteur once said. Indeed, it is tenacity, persistence, and commitment that seem to be the theme of this past weekend. And it’s one of those life lessons that hits you over the head when you least expect it. Funny how that happens sometimes. I am continually amazed (and occasionally annoyed) by the ways in which life gives us lessons. Often, in the moment, the lesson is hidden. The task or event before us swallows us up, distracts us, and pulls away from seeing the big picture. And sometimes the method of the lesson just makes you stand back and say "What the . . . ??"
And so it was with my most recent lesson. This past weekend HMN's Director of Chapter Mentoring, Nina DeSanto, and I headed off for our first Holistic Moms Regional Leaders Training. It was a long-awaited opportunity to meet with Holistic Moms Leaders across the Midwest Region, offer some guidance and inspiration, and enrich our HMN community. Off we went to Newark Airport to promptly discover our flight to Chicago was delayed for 2 hours. We calmly wandered off to the coffee shop reconciled to arriving late to our destination. And as we sipped coffee and chatted about our planned workshop, a voice over the loudspeaker announced that our flight had been canceled. The first inkling of panic and worry reared it's head. So we headed off to be pushed onto the next flight, also now delayed. And then canceled. And again. And again. And so it went as our nerves started to fray and stress levels began to rise. Flight after flight, each subsequently posting hours of delay, then being cancelled altogether. We pondered our options and circumstances.
We had to be in Chicago. Our meeting started at 9 am the following morning, and after 6 hours at the airport, we were nearing disaster. The annoyed Continental clerk suggested we wait for the one last possible flight out and keep our fingers crossed. We couldn't chance it. We found ourselves instead jumping into the last two seats on a flight to Milwaukee, quickly dialing up car rental services as we shuttled to the gate and preparing to drive to our final destination. But the challenges had only just begun. Arriving in Milwaukee, we soon discovered that our luggage was left behind in Newark despite a multitude of assurances that our bags had be rerouted to our flight. No materials for our workshop, save a few. No clothes. No toothpaste. Nothing but what we had on us and a presentation awaiting us. And as it was nearing midnight on the ground, with a two hour drive looming on the horizon, we had to summon up our persistence. We soon found ourselves in a rental car at a 24 hour Walmart, of all things, pulling items from the shelves in a desperate race to gather up our basics and some clothing to get through our morning seminar. We detoured to a nearby Wendy's for much-needed coffee discover they were just closing their doors. A kind employee managed to scrounge up a couple of coffees and waved us off as we jumped on the highway for our trek.
And we sat back and said - really?!? What is the meaning of this? Here we were, headed off to inspire and train our local Chapter Leaders and all we have before us are obstacles and challenges. We wanted to turn back, give up, surrender. We wanted to say "enough" and decide it wasn't worth it. We pondered how there could be a lesson in all this chaos. And we wondered what we would tell our Leaders. Leaders. Leadership. And then it hit us. What is leadership, after all? Leadership is staying the course. Leadership is persisting in the face of obstacles and finding your way through. Leadership is overcoming and discovering the path to success. Leadership is accepting humility but not defeat. Leadership is making it work. "If you're going through hell, keep going" said Winston Churchill. Find the way through to succeed, to grow. Life is full of obstacles and challenges, but "the secret of success is constancy to purpose", advises Benjamin Disraeli.
And it all started to make sense. At least enough sense that we could begin to laugh at the events of the day as we cruised through Milwaukee and on to Chicago, overcoming the challenges before us. Yes, it was about leadership. It was about walking the walk, talking the talk. It was not only talking about leadership but demonstrating leadership. It was a message that we could embrace more fully by living it, breathing it, knowing it.
We were honored and inspired to have had that moment. Sure, we could have done without the stress and aggravation. But the lesson came through loud and clear. And we rose to the challenge. We can all rise to the challenges of our life lessons. We can look past the obstacles and find the way through. The path to success is always there, we just need to persist to discover it. Whether the challenge is small or great, going through it makes us stronger and more able. And that's the true proving ground for leadership.