“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” (Muhammad Ali)
A true measure of a leader is to be a learner at heart. As leaders, we need to adapt, integrate and continually sharpen our leadership skills. The book, ‘Lone Survivor’, described the experiences of Marcus Luttrell, a US Navy SEAL, who ended up fighting for his life against the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan.
The book expounds in detail the immense training programme that Luttrell was subjected to. He had to undergo a metamorphosis in order to develop his state of mind, strengthen his body and have endurance to withstand the severities working as a qualified SEAL.
Training to Qualify
The process of qualification and training is extremely intense. A candidate SEAL’s preparation lasts for about a year, which comprises of numerous intense formal training sessions in different terrains. Luttrell described how he had to dodge the Taliban soldiers, injured and alone, while being trapped in the rugged mountainous landscape of Afghanistan.
He knew that he was fighting a battle of survival, one wrong move and the Taliban soldiers would kill him. His intense physical training programme prepared him for this battle; but more significantly, his mental training gave him the mental stamina to remain focused, think like a survivor and blot out his physical pain, isolation, fear and loneliness. Ultimately, it took every second of his training to prepare Luttrell for this battle and to emerge as a survivor.
Training to Prepare
In business, all too often we drive our businesses with little preparation work and no real training, desiring to achieve success and win our battles. After spending 9 years at university, my parents guided me to acquire an additional 10 years of grass roots training within the business. Looking back, I don’t think my father felt that after 19 years of training I had put in enough preparation work.
We read stories about successful entrepreneurs and yearn to succeed but forget the significance of preparation and training. The old quote, ‘you have to crawl before you can walk’, is very apt and so truthful. We all need learning-curbs, hard times and climbing the ladder of success slow-and-steadily. We need to work towards our goals. The season of training and preparation makes us stronger, wiser and more equipped to take our businesses to the next level.
I was challenged and had to contemplate my practices, habits and disciplines. I had to consider my strengths, follow a strategic plan in preparation for battle. I had to ask all the right questions. Am I prepared to put in effort and countless hours of preparation for that moment of battle? Am I prepared to discipline myself by training on the physical, mental and emotional levels? What disciplines are you setting in place as a business leader to prepare yourselves for the battles ahead?
Friedrich Nietzsche said, “On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.” We all want to climb higher but need to set time aside for training. I have been challenged to be more intentional about training myself (or getting outside training) and developing the right disciplines to prepare for the battles that will come.
What does the Bible say about Training?
The Psalmist in Psalm 144:1 says: “Blessed be the Lord my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8 further exhorts us to: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
The bible guides us to not only train ourselves for the battles we will face but also to set the right disciplines in place. For the soldier these disciplines are order, obedience, fitness and teamwork. For Christians these disciplines are prayer, spending time in God’s Word, and fellowship.
A cautionary note: Despite all your training, you may find yourself in a dangerous conundrum in the fierce day of battle – your training will only partially help you! If you are not clothed with ‘something else’, you may be like a naked man into whose flesh every dart will penetrate! If the shield of faith in Jesus Christ does not cover you, the spears of your enemies will soon reach your heart. The answer lies in ceasing from any self-confidence, know yourself to be inherently weak. Rather train yourself to look beyond your skills to an unquestionable and more reliable source of strength than yourself!
About the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity as a child. Awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ultra Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the trials and successes of commerce for 3 decades.