THORNS ARE A REAL PAIN to deal with. In your business, perhaps your “thorns” are:

  • Customers that are demanding, unappreciative, and don’t pay on time
  • Employees who don’t get along well
  • Regulations
  • Mistakes
  • Life

This is what makes leadership so difficult. When things are going well, great! But there always seems to be a few aspects which are painful.

But it’s really about the striving and overcoming. When you’ve tried ten different approaches with that difficult customer and finally found one which seems to move the needle ten percent, that’s a huge win. You now have some new tools in your toolbox which may benefit all your other customers as well.

Some years back, I had an employee who was abrasive and wasn’t really delivering that well. It didn’t help that his job was relatively unique, so the rest of the team assumed that it was simpler than it really was.

I decided to put an extraordinary amount of effort and focus on helping him to develop. Some ideas worked, and many didn’t. I never really got it resolved to our satisfaction, but there was progress.

For my development as a leader and as a coach, it was life-changing.

I had to talk to a whole bunch of people to get advice. I got to test new approaches to resolving conflicts. I learned a great deal about his job role. And he deeply appreciated how I had supported his career.

When I look back and question whether I succeeded, it’s a mixed bag. There’s no question it was a highly valuable experience for me and him. But not without struggle.

I’ve learned that you have to look for the beauty among the thorns. Because there will always be thorns, and you don’t want to just see the pain.