Written by Josh Fisher

On May 21, 2023, I embarked on a grueling journey to conquer the Keys100 50-mile race in the Florida Keys. That day, the relentless sun scorched the asphalt, and the oppressive humidity clung to every step. As the race commenced, a volunteer delivered a message – the first aid station was closed. It was the first adversity of many that day, leaving us in shock and confusion. Did we miss a memo? Regardless, my crew chief and I swiftly adapted to this unexpected change, altering our plan and pushing forward.

Only 18 miles into the race, another challenge loomed. At the 18-mile marker aid station, I was assured the next one lay just under two miles ahead. However, due to complicated map instructions, my crew’s inexperience, and my failure to seek clarity, by mile 20, no aid station was in sight. Uncertainty and anxiety gripped me – no water, only one gel, fading energy, and relentless heat.

Doubts and fears flooded my mind, and the desire to quit grew overwhelming. The next two miles became the crucible of my resolve, the hardest I had ever faced in all my years of running. In the depths of despair, I leaned on three pillars: resilience, physical and mental fortitude, and hope.

You may not plan on running an ultra-marathon anytime soon, but every leader and their team faces adversity. Here are three actions that will help you lead through adversity:

Cultivate Resilience: Foster resilience by viewing challenges as growth opportunities. Encourage your team to learn from setbacks and adapt swiftly. Create a culture valuing adaptability and innovation.

Build Physical and Mental Fortitude: Prioritize physical fitness and mental well-being. Regular exercise and mindfulness practices enhance physical and mental strength. Lead by example, inspiring your team to prioritize their health and well-being.

Share Hope: Many would argue that “hope is not a strategy.” However, hope is a real thing many of us lean on. As a leader, your hope is contagious. Share your vision, emphasizing team contributions. Celebrate small wins, reinforcing the belief that challenges can be overcome.

Leadership isn’t a smooth path; it’s a journey marked by unexpected obstacles. The “hardest two miles” taught me that authentic leadership thrives in adversity. By cultivating resilience, physical and mental fortitude, and unwavering hope, leaders can inspire their teams to conquer challenges and achieve greatness. When adversity strikes, remember these traits to lead your team through even the most challenging times.

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through its innovative coaching programs.