In 1989, I tore my ACL playing football. The doctor at the time told me that since I wasn’t going to play professional football, it didn’t need to be fixed. So I did a little rehab and went on my way.
A few months later, I was walking down a hallway, and someone who hadn’t seen me in a while asked, “Why are you walking with a limp?” I hadn’t noticed it, nor had my friends or family.
A limp results from an injury. Damage has been done to some part of the lower part of the body. When we continuously walk with a limp, over time our body adjusts, but that doesn’t mean that it’s effects are mitigated. In fact, too often, it causes more issues. I see a chiropractor regularly to keep my lower body straight. If I don’t, I can have one leg as much as an inch shorter than the other. That imbalance affects my spine and neck. It’s always a nice day when I get to visit the chiro.
Now, lest you think I think I’m great, please don’t. I don’t limp enough to consider myself great at anything.
Leadership is a hot item. Everyone wants to be in charge, to be in a place to make a difference. But leadership is also a painful place. And the great ones walk with a limp.
You don’t get to be a leader without scars. Pain is a teacher, and in leadership, the painful decisions that have to be made, the painful and difficult situations we find ourselves in, will mark us. Scarred faces and limping leaders are evidence of the battles that we engage in. They are lasting memories of a trek through the valley of the shadow of death, and a reminder that it was only a shadow indeed, not the real thing.
The great ones walk with a limp and don’t even realize it. Or maybe they do and just ignore its effects, moving forward with grit and experience that ignites trust and confidence. They also walk with a humility that comes from the pain.
Leadership isn’t for sissies.
Thanks to Emily Hunter McGowin’s facebook post for the title and idea. She got it from Rob Bell’s podcast episode Alternative Wisdom: Part 3.