Did you ever notice how some people can take a circumstance or a bad situation and then win anyway… against all odds? It’s inspiring! When we hear these stories, we want to take that inspiration and apply it in our own lives, overcome obstacles, and win. Take Chesley Sullenberger, also known as “Sully.” He is a pilot who in 2009 landed the US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. All 155 passengers and crew survived with only minor injuries. Sully is a real person who became a hero for doing what he needed to do to win the game of getting all those passengers and flight crew safely on the ground.
Considering life does not always go the way we want it to go, there seems to be ample opportunity to emulate heroes like Sully who ‘get it done’ even when faced with circumstances that get in the way, and even may threaten lives. But beyond chalking his success up to having attributes we think we lack (determination, courage, or something else), how can we get access to being empowered and feel able to win when life goes some way other than what we planned? I am reminded of John Lennon’s quote: “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”
Wherever winning is important, most of us, even CEOs, can find ourselves complaining (even if it is silently to themselves) about the challenging circumstances we have been dealt. The market changes, demand is down, unexpected ‘headwinds’ are to blame, and often business leaders equate the reasons why they do not have results to be an alternative to those results. If, however, you want to be effective in any situation and win, you have to be able to win even when the odds are not with you.
Bill Boisture and the Hawker Beechcraft business are a potent example of a leader and a business who were able to win with the unfavorable circumstances they had.
In 2008, as the economy fell, fuel prices rose, and the company’s market took a devastating hit, Hawker Beechcraft faced tough choices like bankruptcy and layoffs just to keep the company afloat. Boisture was willing to do what it took to win with integrity for the business and employees. The access to winning in the face of the odds turns out to be simple: Taking life the way it is and constituting that as the rules of the game and the field on which you are playing the game. If you can stop complaining that the circumstances make it difficult to win the game, but should allow you to change the game in some way and give yourself the job of winning the game with the existing circumstances, you will have the power you need to win when the circumstances are not the way you want them to be. Take a look at how Boisture did just that.
Both Sully and Boisture gave themselves the job of winning in their respective fields and with the rules they were given. Since there will always be a risk in life and in business, the best way to win turns out to be taking life the way it is and making it a game you intend to win and then getting to work. Game on!