The Art Of Leadership Is Not Without Struggle

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 10.41.49 PMAt the age of seven, a young boy and his family were forced out of their home.

The boy had to work to help support his family.

When he was nine, his mother passed away.

As a young man was keen to go to law school, but had no education.

At 22, he lost his job as a store clerk.

At 23, he ran for the state legislature and lost.

The same year, a business failure left him with a debt that took him 17 years to repay.

At 27, he had a nervous breakdown.

At 29, he lost an election to be speaker in his state legislature.

At 31, he was defeated in his attempt to become an elector.

By 35, he had been defeated twice while running for Congress.

At 39 he lost his re-election bid.

At 41, he lost his four-year-old son.

At 42, he was rejected as a prospective land officer.

At 45, he ran for the Senate and lost.

Two years later, he lost the vice presidential nomination.

At 49, he ran for Senate and lost again.

At 51, he was elected president of the United States of America.

The young boy who grew up to be president is Abraham Lincoln.

Life is a variable event for everyone and our leadership is not something we are born with, but is revealed in our everyday struggles and strain.

When struggle is present the art of our leadership strength will be evident everywhere:

In our priorities. Leaders who know their priorities lead with what is important to them. They give their emotional intensity and continuous focus with every resource to support what they want to obtain. How you spend your time shows you what is important to you.

In our persistence. Leaders who are persistent lead with everything they have. They don’t leave any stone unturned and they don’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves but take responsibility for what they want and show determination till the very end. It is not what your life takes from you; it’s what you give to your life that counts.

In our passion. Passionate leaders apply all their efforts, all their best skills, and all their capabilities with everything they have. Goodness is good but passion is much greater.

In our patience. Patient leaders are not weak but emotionally strong. Good things may not come to those who wait, but great things come to those who have patience. Masterpieces take time. Patience is power and patience takes practice. There are many obstacles that come our way, and unless we have patience, we will react instead of responding. Patience is the attribute that helps us attain what we want and frees us from our knee-jerk reactions.

In our principles. Those who lead with principles know what is right and what is wrong. Every time we make a decision we are either moving toward our principles or away from them. Our principles are our values; they affect every direction of our life and leading.

Life has a way of throwing us into situations that test us, evaluate us, and assess us.

Leaders who do not waver in times of struggle, those are the leaders who are truly exceptional.

Lead From Within: The art of leadership is not without struggle, those that lead from a strong foundation are unshakable, they have endurance in the most grueling training that life has to offer.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Sunil Jogdeo

    19. Aug, 2014

    Hello Lolly, nice piece. `Masterpiece takes time` is the point I have taken from this article. A great leader is a masterpiece in himself / herself, and hence to be a value based leader is going to take time. In one of my articles on Linked In, I wrote leaders cannot be leaders by designations. There is a trend of bestowing designations to take care of attrition or to hold a person in given job. Nothing really changes except the title for such people, and people are happy with it. These are pseudo leaders perhaps. I also understood that to make my reading a masterpiece, i need to take more time Thank you again for value adding post..

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  2. Bill Benoist

    19. Aug, 2014

    You wrote, “Life is a variable event for everyone and our leadership is not something we are born with, but is revealed in our everyday struggles and strain.” I would add by everyday people as well.

    We don’t have to look into our history books for leaders like Lincoln, Kennedy, or King. We can often find them in our neighborhood schools, grocery stores, fire departments and where we work. Leadership is a calling, but it takes a special person to step up and answer.

    Great read, Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Bob Vanourek

    19. Aug, 2014

    Great reminder, Lolly. Thank you.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Panteli Tritchew

    19. Aug, 2014

    Greetings, Lolly-a wonderful reminder that without struggle, there is no growth. When we lift weights, resistance stretches the muscles. When we resist something, anything, ultimately we are resisting Acceptance…but the growth happens when we resist Non-Acceptance.
    …When we learn to embrace our struggles, embrace our reality, embrace what has happened, embrace what is happening, embrace who we are, embrace our feelings, embrace our setbacks, we can cultivate gratitude, from gratitude we can find the energy to be fearless and hopeful… like Charlie Brown… taking another kick at the football. Great post!

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  5. LaRae Quy

    19. Aug, 2014

    Great reminder that life is not without struggles, Lolly.

    So many people feel “entitled” in today’s society and while many outgrow that narcississm, many do not. Instead of developing mental toughness, they whine and complain that their life is not perfect.

    It gets tiresome to both hear and read…good kick in the butt for folks to stop feeling sorry for themselves.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Fred Aubin

    20. Aug, 2014

    Great article Lolly and a reminder that the greatest leaders in history are defined by the extraordinary struggles they overcame.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Billy Wade

    20. Aug, 2014

    Struggles can make our break some of us. All to often we attempt to avoid any struggles that might come our way in an attempt to avoid pain. This reminds me of my little seven year old daughter. She sometimes complain of pain in her legs, come to find out what she has is growing pains, to stop the pain would retard her growth. I agree that the art of leadership is not without struggles.

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  8. Edward Colozzi

    22. Aug, 2014

    Thanks Lolly for another “wisdom post” to cultivate our souls and give us pause for reflection…going within to then leadfromwithin. 

    You know so well the value of struggles throughout our career-life journey we humans experience across each of our nine life roles; it’s these life struggles that truly shape us, focus us, and allow us to search for the core values that ultimately guide us “home”. Frankl taught us how life is unconditional in its gift of meaning to ALL people. Certainly the majority of meaning evolves from our many struggles, each a special gift waiting to be unwrapped to let its healing fragrance permeate our life and those around us in magical ways. Love you dearly Lolly,
    Aloha nui EdC 

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  9. Daymond

    22. Aug, 2014

    Great teaching and evidence that everything in life is a struggle and sacrifice to get the best in a cause. In this case to lead others we must have self-discipline without neglecting our morals and ethics bases.

    Inspiring post Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Ron Worman

    22. Aug, 2014

    Or, in other words, authenticity. At Sage, the 3 watch words are value, velocity and veracity. It takes wisdom to understand the value, courage to create and sustain momentum, and veracity to operate from the center of your values.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Jean

    23. Aug, 2014

    Great article! Ididn’t know what happened to him. Good axample, indeed! I agree that leaders don’t think like followers because they are ready to sacrifice. No matter what happened they dedicate their life to the struggle. They never give up their target!

    Reply to this comment
  12. Hitansu

    24. Aug, 2014

    One more great sharing…………

    Reply to this comment
  13. David Brooks

    25. Aug, 2014

    Inspirational Post Lolly,
    I always gain a great deal of inspiration, motivation and the will keep pushing forward every time I am reminded of our Great President Abraham Lincoln’s persistence and his struggle to become in my opinion one of, if not the greatest President of our Great and Wonderful Nation: “The United States of America”!
    Always looking forward to your next blog post!


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  14. Peter Callender

    26. Aug, 2014

    Great post Lolly

    I think it all starts with the authentic leadership piece and being clear about your principles. The other three Ps are very relevant too. Your principles will help to anchor you as a leader so that you have a robust basis to help you with the complex decision making we sometimes have to make.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Alex Sandro Alves Miranda

    26. Aug, 2014

    Afternoon, Lolly! Excellent article, so we are leaving by reflection it . Congratulations.

    Reply to this comment
  16. jets

    28. Aug, 2014

    i more than agree with you that in leadership ” within” content plays a major/pivotal role, it is personal conviction and faith in own commitment that sets apart a true leader from the crowd.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Dr. Kelly Edmonds

    05. Sep, 2014

    Great story and thanks for sharing! I can’t help but think it is someone’s character that gets them through the struggles and makes them strong. That there is something in their make-up that provides them with vision and persistence. Perhaps, it is their DNA and lineage that gives them the drive. I come from a long line of Irish fighters and see how it compels me without my doing anything to conjure it up. And at times, I wish it would switch off but is part of my nature!

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  18. sanjay

    21. Jul, 2015

    Great !!!
    It is only after going through rough patches in life, a person can understand the value of life. Lessons learnt during the struggle and moving along the growth trajectory- unperturbed by distractions, makes a person worth following,

    Reply to this comment
  19. Michal Petras

    13. Aug, 2015

    Thank you. Lolly. This article is phenomenal. I really love it. A precious piece of information. Very important for every leader. And not only leader.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Michael

    27. Oct, 2015

    Hi Lolly,

    What a great piece and the life lessons from one of the greatest leaders in History. This spoke to me on so many levels. C.S. Lewis once said that ‘hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny” and it is very true in Lincoln’s case. An area that needs to be mentioned was that Lincoln was a man of extraordinary faith in God which is what I believe helped him through his difficulties to be the man that he was. Thanks again Lolly for this important reminder about endurance and perseverance.

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