Good leadership means that sometimes, you just have to eat that egg

A distinct ability to push through when you just don’t want to is a leadership virtue.

Geoff Wilson

I played a lot of (American) football a long time ago. One of the annual rituals of a football team is training camp, where the team practices intensely for a number of weeks in preparation for a season of games.

Back in the olden days–otherwise known as the 1990’s when I played–training camp consisted of about three weeks of two-a-day practices that involved a tremendous amount of physical strain. Players would wake up, get ready for practice, pound on one another on the field for a few hours, ice up, rest up for an hour or two, then pound on each other again in an afternoon practice. Interspersed around those practices were a lot of meetings and reviews intended to get the team’s mental game in order.

Training camp was intense. And with the physical strain came the need to take care of one’s body.  Players had to ensure they were treating their injuries, and getting enough nutrition. And that’s where the title of this post comes from. At some point during training camp, usually around the end of the first week when the pounding was getting hardest and your body hadn’t adjusted fully to the new normal, your appetite just shut off.

You had no appetite. But you had a mental acknowledgement that you had to eat in order to keep weight on and energy supplied. Breakfast invariably came with an egg or two, and I can remember just staring at a plate of eggs, thinking that I would vomit if I ate them, and knowing that I had to get the calories into my body despite that thought.

So, you just had to eat the eggs.  You had to do what you knew was the right thing to do despite the stomach churning reality of the situation.

The same thing is true in leadership.  Today, you might be facing the need to make a call or start a reorganization, or to prepare a proposal that is the right thing to do, but that you just don’t want to do…all the way down to your bones.

All I can tell you is this: eat the egg. You need to do it.

You know it.

What do you think?

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