What Quintessential Leadership Looks Like: Progress

Posted: January 18, 2016 in Examples and Analyses of Quintessential Leadership
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Martin Luther King, Jr. on the nature of progressDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made an insightful and wise observation on the nature of progress: “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.”

The reality is that the solution to one problem often brings us face to face with many other problems. That is the price of progress. Understanding, knowing, and accepting that is also what distinguishes quintessential leaders from everyone else.

The potential of many other problems is often what holds most people in leadership positions from embracing progress. It is often easier to believe that the status quo is good enough or that it is the finite point of progress than to admit that progress will improve what already exists.

Fear is an impediment to change and progressFear is the biggest impediment to progress. Fear of being wrong (sometimes we are). Fear of change (out of our comfort zones). Fear of the unknown (every moment before us, in reality, is unknown).

Quintessential leaders face and embrace the precarious aspect of progress head-on. We know that progress brings challenges, changes, and often brings us up close and personal with confronting our fears and the ideas and beliefs that we often hold dear and are reluctant to confront because seeing and understanding, for quintessential leaders, means taking action.

If we don’t continually undertake this journey of progress in every area of our lives, we will never grow and never become the epitome of quintessential leadership.

So progress often evokes an intense internal conflict that we as quintessential leaders must face, embrace, accept, and overcome to move forward. Being static, even if it seems safe and an easy way to avoid the possibility of more problems, is never an option for quintessential leaders.

It’s always been ironic to me that the majority of people seem to believe that problems exist in a vacuum and if one problem is solved (progress), then life from that point on is problem-free. This is a small-picture view that is both pollyanish and dangerous in the reality of our big-picture worlds and lives.

Problems are an inevitable part of the process of progress and changeThe truth is that there is no such thing as a single problem to solve and often solving one problem opens up a whole host of new problems, sometimes bigger and more frustrating and aggravating that the one problem being solved.

But quintessential leaders understand that this is an inevitable part of the process of progress and we are willing to go where many others stop and stagnate because they aren’t willing to go through the temporary (in the moment, it can seem to be unending) rough patches and terrain that accompany progress and problem-solving.

Progress – and the problems that accompany it – is messy. There’s no way to get around that. Progress is hard. Progress is often painful. Progress is incredibly ugly at times in its process.

That is the nature of all change in our lives.

And quintessential leaders know that going into progress and change. While we don’t know – because no human can – the exact nature of how change and progress will unfold, we do know that it will demand every ounce of strength, resolve, endurance, and fortitude that we have to achieve it.

That’s the fundamental commitment that quintessential leaders make and keep as we progress and change, facing the inherent problems of the process (some of which are tantamount to being in the depths of hell and some of which are so complex and complicated that we often – to outside eyes that have no idea what is actually going on and involved – look permanently stuck and bogged down in absolute failure), resolved to complete the process no matter what we have to sacrifice, suffer, and survive.

As the journey through progress and change proceeds, quintessential leaders often find they walk to the rest of the way alone.Progress, for quintessential leaders, is often a very solitary journey. While at the beginning there may be other people who are on the journey, they usually quit when the terrain gets messy, hard, painful, and ugly, leaving us on the road alone to travel to its end.

Progress requires everything we’ve got. It’s an all-in commitment with no holds barred. 

Why do quintessential leaders embrace and undertake progress and change, then, knowing the multitude and possible intensity of the problems, the challenges, the obstacles that lie on the road to effect the progress and change?

Because quintessential leaders have vision and the ultimate goal is always squarely in their focus as they go through the journey. They never allow the past or the present to dictate the future or to derail them from successful completion, no matter how many critics, naysayers, and scoffers buffet them along the way.

Now is the time for each of us who are striving to be quintessential leaders to look at ourselves in relationship to progress and change.

Do we embrace progress and change?

Do we have and keep the fortitude to forge ahead through the inevitable problems that accompany progress and change?

Or do we avoid progress and change, preferring to keep the stagnant status quo because it’s easier, it’s comfortable, and we don’t have the internal wherewithal to face the disruption in every part of our lives that progress and change often demand of us?

How are we doing?

  1. Life on this earth is hard, problem after problem will arrive in our lives. We can either face those problems head on or we can let fear make us backtrack to find a way around the problem, never dealing with the problem. I have a saying, when you find that everyone who was suppose to support and help with a problem have disappeared – “If It’s Gonna Be, It’s Up To Me.” I have solved many problems alone over the years. It was hard work and took much time, but I gave each problem my all. I am not the best Quintessential Leader in the world, but at least I try. If you give it your all and fail, you do not feel as if your are a failure. Nice post Sandra


  2. iammarchhare says:

    “Progress, for quintessential leaders, is often a very solitary journey.”

    I believe that is unfortunately true most of the time for various reasons. A lot of people abandoned Edison in his search for his greatest accomplishment. Even loved ones will urge you to give up and settle (often even against reason).

    “Drive” or “stick-to-it-iveness” was listed as one of the Seven Laws of Success. It may be also one of the hardest attributes to maintain.


  3. […] quintessential leaders must be aware of, must examine carefully, and must be in a constant state of forward progress to changing to become quintessential […]


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