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First off, thank you for the responses to my previous post I Hate This Part of Leadership … from those of you who put the pieces together, to just general well wishers. Needless to say, it has been a challenging couple of days and the support was genuinely appreciated.

In that article, I alluded to a couple of concepts that I wanted to re-post.  Part 1 will take a look at the Wilderness concept, Part 2 at the Storms.  All of us go through them at some point … hopefully these help in a time of need.

Wilderness Re-Post (edited where necessary)

I was speaking with a friend recently, a business leader, who has been experiencing what could only be characterized as a “wilderness moment” in his career. As product management professionals, we have all had them … times of self-doubt, times of questioning our abilities and processes, times of wondering if our decisions have been sound.

Not coincidentally, I was reminded that those times of wilderness are often preparation for what is to come. Recently, I posted a quote from one of my favorite leaders, Abraham Lincoln … “I will prepare, and someday my chance will come.” A wonderful encouragement with an eye towards what could be from a leadership perspective.

It reminds us that 90% of leadership is preparation. You could argue that this applies to the here and now (i.e. – preparing for a critical upcoming presentation, product release, or annual revenue target), or you could argue that it applies to the culmination of experiences up until that point that prepare you for the next adventure. Personally, I believe both can be true. For example, did you know that the essence of the Abraham Lincoln quote was birthed out of repeated failures in his personal and political life? He lost eight political elections, twice failed in business, endured the death of his fiancee, and also suffered a nervous breakdown.

And yet in 1860 (and again in 1864), Abraham Lincoln was voted into presidency and became one of the best leaders this country has seen, all during one of its darkest eras. I do not doubt that the failures prepared him to be that leader.

Anytime these times of wilderness occur in our professional careers, be sure reflect on the situation (the bad as well as the good … yes, there likely was good if you look hard enough), and then ask the question “what can I learn from this?”