For many years, the iceberg has been a great visual for leadership…the 10% above the waterline represents the skills of the leader and the 90% below the water represents the character of the leader. What’s happening below the waterline has more of an impact than what’s going on above. In an attempt to learn more about these unique products of nature, I did some research.
In my research of icebergs, one of the things I learned was the critical role storms play in the formation of them. You may have thought about this, but I had not. Icebergs are formed over decades of snow and ice storms. The more storms, the deeper the snow, the deeper the snow, the more pressure, the more pressure, the more the snow is compressed – to form ice. This process repeats itself over and over again until the weight of it all forces a break from land and the newly calved iceberg is launched into the sea.
Here’s something to consider, could the iceberg as a metaphor for leadership extend to the way leaders are formed? What role do storms play in our formation? There are several ways I believe storms in life can shape our life and leadership.
Storms Strengthen Us: Think about the hard things you’ve encountered in your life – at home, at work, in relationships, with your health. If you and I have learned from these experiences, we are stronger. Whenever I find myself in a storm, one of my first questions is, “What can I learn here?” Try not to ask “why” but “what.”
Storms Deepen Our Experience: One of the more treacherous features of many storms is the element of the unknown. And certainly, every new storm can bring its own surprises. However, I’ve experienced numerous situations in which past storms provided insight regarding how to survive a current storm or a coming storm. Experience matters!
Storms Shape Our Character: Character is who you are. This is where I want to stretch the metaphor just a little. If storms form an iceberg and if the amount above the waterline is directly proportional to what’s below; storms shape and deepen our character. I believe this to be true. When you and I move through a storm in our life or leadership, our resolve and our beliefs are impacted in a profound way. How we react under pressure is a true test of our leadership character.
In summation – We only learn from the storms we survive. So, if you find yourself in a storm – (and you will) – hang on and learn all you can from the experience. It will serve you well when the weather clears. Have a great week!
What are some ways you endure the storms of life?