My office is in my home. I consider myself lucky. Except that right now I hear banging as workers put in a temporary wall to remove the windows in the back of my kitchen. My renovation has officially started.

There wasn’t supposed to be a temporary wall, but last week, on Day 1 of the project we ran into Snag 1. And so plans have changed, and I already have workers traipsing through my house. And the leadership lessons have already started.

I’m sure I’ll have lessons to learn as we go along, but this is what I’ve been gifted with so far:

  1. Look for the good – sure I’m inconvenienced, but I’m thoroughly aware that I’m lucky to be able to renovate my kitchen (even if it’s mostly for my husband). By looking for, and remembering, this good, the hammering seems much less intrusive. When we’re faced with snags at work, teams that don’t gel, and colleagues that drive us crazy, it’s important to look for the good in these difficult situations. This makes all the rest less important and more palatable. And a bonus – by finding the good in our teammates, reports, clients, and bosses we actually bring out the good in them.
  2. Go with the flow – sure I’m inconvenienced (will every point start this way?), and sure we hit a Day 1 snag. But so far we’re only losing one day, and if I can take losing my kitchen way sooner that I thought I was going to in stride, the inconvenience doesn’t really have to bother me. We always have a choice as to how upset we get about the inconveniences that pop up in a day’s work. Even if the good in the situation seems difficult to find, when we can at least flow with what is instead of fighting it, we don’t have to be as upset.
  3. Get creative – There’s a way to take what’s not working and make it work. While I may be flowing with what is and taking it in stride, I also can get creative about how we’ll function for months without a kitchen, and what I’ll prepare for dinner when I can’t cook. This is a chance to live in my creative side. I can take this back to my work by finding creative solutions to the challenges that arise there. When our usual ways of working are taken away from us, we can find new ways (and new recipes) that we never would have encountered. I see this flexibility and creativity surrounding me in my clients who lost their power, and their offices, due to Hurricane Sandy. They figure out a way to make do and make the necessary things happen.
  4. Imagine the possibilities – I don’t mind the banging and the inconvenience as much when I keep in mind the finished product. Granted, it may be months away, but I’ll have a kitchen I love with details I’ve personally chosen. And the process of choosing them can be fun. When we take time to envision the future, and make it a future we want, we can easily get through challenges in our day. The challenges are often paving the way for the future of our dreams.
  5. Get out of dodge – if all else fails, I can simply find somewhere else to work, and eat out more often. There are times to walk away from the challenges. To take a breather. To get perspective and relief. The same is true in leadership. There are times to dig into the problem – to look for the good, go with the flow, get creative, and imagine the possibilities. And there are also times to simply step away to refresh and refuel ourselves.

I’m sure there will be more lessons, but right now I’m getting out of dodge to go meet a client at his office.

What leadership lessons have you gained from challenges (and opportunities) in your life?
Please leave a comment to share.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in applying your leadership lessons, contact Lisa at

Click here to receive The Thoughtful Leaders™ Blog posts via e-mail and receive a copy of “Ending Leadership Frenzy: 5 Steps to Becoming a More Thoughtful and Effective Leader.”

Photo Credit:

New York: 212.537.6897 | Pennsylvania: 610.254.0244