I just spent a week in Dublin. It was my first time visiting Ireland. I didn’t know what I expected, but I found a lot of it. The city was younger than I knew (median age is 36). It is steeped in its history as cities of this sort often are.
When you talked with Dubliners or those who were Irish by ancestry if not postal code, you hear the pride they take in the toughness of their roots. Most notably, they are proud of their fight for independence. You could tell they’d do it all over again if required.
On the south bank of the Liffey river that runs through the city, there was a billboard for an upcoming UFC fight. The gritty, tatted brawlers were labeled as the “Fighting Irish.” This, unsurprisingly, reminded me of Notre Dame. Growing up in Chicago, I’d heard the phrase “fighting Irish” many times and the Irish guys in my high school, De La Salle, took pride in this moniker.
Over the course of the week, I heard stories of near fights at pubs and Irish lads fighting for sport. The line between truth and stereotype seemed willfully thin. I thought what it must be like to get into a brawl the night before and still go to work the next day, your eye red or jaw swollen, evidence of a night gone awry. There’s this sense that, in this culture, you’d have no choice but to do so. There are two truths at play: only boxers like getting punched in the face, and white collar or blue, you get up and go to work.
As you wander through Dublin, you see monuments to those who fought for independence, equality, and fairness. They did not just bring fists to the struggle. They led with great words. The plaques were inspirational and ignited a longing for connection to purpose.
If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know I believe that you should manage with intent. You should have values that define your leadership. You should know the purpose of your role, your team and your organization.
I don’t want you to know what you stand for; I want you to know what you are willing to get knocked down for. That reason, the reason for which you took the blow is what will help you get back up. I want you to get up and never stop getting up.
In the post, That First Fear-Full Step, we talked about finding the thing(s) that keep you or your direct reports from achieving the success you seek. We focused on being honest about reasons versus excuses, knowing what’s blocked by fear versus laziness.
Now, I want you to write down what or who you are fighting for and why on an index card or sticky note. I want you to post it somewhere you’ll see it every day. I do not care if others see it or not. This exercise is about you. Try phrasing it like this: “I fight for [blank] so [blank]”
Since this is about you, anything you say is okay. You can fight for:
- “My kids so they can have a better life than me.”
- “My family so we can all live with less stress.”
- “Promotion to VP so I can make a difference in this company.”
- “A raise so I can be free of my debt.”
- “My reputation so I can leverage it to grow my business.”
Then, put the object of your fight in bold, so it stands out in the sentence. The goal is to have clear reason for pushing through the tough times and then bake that reason down to a short-hand that you can trigger in your head.
You are going to hit roadblocks. They will come from within you. They will come from around you. As a manager, I want you to exemplify a dogged professionalism that isn’t conquered by challenges or setbacks. When times are tough, your team will lean on you. They will need to see – and feel – you holding them up. You will need the ability to support their weight.
Let’s take a page from the stoic Irish legends and get up every morning, bruised or not, and get back into the fight.