Are you Fighting the Best Fight?

When it comes to conflict, there are hills to die on, hills to bleed on, and hills not worth climbing. Knowing what the best battles are and how to fight them is an essential leadership skill.

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Marine Corps boot camp includes a segment on combat hitting skills. I’ll never forget my experience with the boxing aspect of this segment. Recruits were lined up with their back to a small ring designed to simulate hand-to-hand combat in a ravine. One of the times I entered the ring, I was matched against a guy who was by all accounts superhuman. It appeared he had worked out since he was 5 years old, was foaming at the mouth, and beyond ready to throw down (I was too, until I saw him). Since we were promised a phone call home if we broke our opponents nose, I knew he was ready to do some damage. I did what any wise Marine Corps recruit would do in this situation: played excellent defense. I had no shame in dodging, ducking, and covering up. This was not a hill for me to die on, or bleed on. It was not worth climbing, I would have never made it.

Conflict is inevitable. Some of you are wired to fight and some of you are wired for flight. Regardless of what end of the continuum you find yourself on, the more important issue is discerning whether or not it is a hill to die on, hill to bleed on, or hill not worth climbing. Here are two questions that will help you discern whether or not, and how to engage the conflict:

Is this healthy or unhealthy conflict?

Healthy conflict is most often task and goal oriented. There is nothing like a unified group of people fighting it out over the best next steps for the team or organization to take. Healthy conflict will create energy and propel you forward. Unhealthy conflict is usually people oriented and is rooted in selfishness, gossip, or misunderstanding — usually a personality misunderstanding or something that was said the wrong way. If it’s healthy conflict about a goal, priority, or something that could benefit the other person, team, or organization, charge the hill! Fight for the highest possible good. If not, here is the second question you need to ask:

Is this something I need to throw out, talk out, or work out?

When there’s conflict, it’s not always about a fight or flight response. There are options. If it’s not mission critical or destructive, and it’s just annoying to you, throw it out!

Sometimes, though, you need to talk it out: Find a neutral person and get their perspective on whether the hill you’re climbing is really worth it. Perhaps you are wrong about the issue and you need to move on. Or, perhaps it really is a hill to bleed or die on. When you’ve avoided it long enough, or it’s a constant issue, it’s time to go work it out! If the person is not doing their job, or they are late, rude, unfocused, undisciplined, manipulative, political, closed communicators (the list goes on), it is time to fight for the highest possible good of the team. Calling it out is the first step toward fighting the best fight and resolving the conflict.

If you’re not fighting right now, you’re maintaining or dying. What problems in your life, family, team, or organization need addressing?


How To Banish Fear From Your Leadership

Growing up, I had a number of irrational fears, the most embarrassing of which was the fear of the shark in our (above ground) pool. Many thanks to Jaws for planting that seed in my young mind. Fear is common to all of us. There is a scene in the Dark Night Rises Where Bane says to Batman, “You think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it…” I have 4 children, and what I know is that they all cried at birth. What were those first tears about? They weren’t tears of regret or love, they were tears of fear — you were born in it.

Too many leaders operate from a base of fear.

  • Fear of the worst happening.
  • Being consumed with what others think of of you: Will they like you? Will they accept you? Will they think you are competent?
  • Fear of making what you know to be the best decision because of the kickback you know you’ll get.


Living with constant worry, anxiety or fear is damaging to our leadership influence and to our physical health. Though our bodies are hardwired to respond when real danger is present by firing up our nervous system so we can respond well, when we are captive to fear, our bodies are “on” all of the time. We shake. We struggle to sleep.

Fear restrains, restricts and keeps us from realizing our full potential.

In his book The Heart and the Fist, former Truman Scholar, Rhodes Scholar and Navy Seal Eric Greitens tells us how to banish fear. While training as a Navy SEAL officer, Greitens learned that banishing fear as a leader is easier than you think. He writes:

For fear to take hold of you, it needs to be given room to run in your mind. As a leader, all the room in your mind is taken up by a focus on your men. I got to a point where my senses were attuned to every physical, verbal, emotional, even spiritual tremor in the crew. Who looks like he’s about to lose his temper? Who is worried about his kid? Who’s limping? Who’s feeling sorry for himself? Who needs to be coached? Who needs to be challenged? Once I came to know these men, leadership…wasn’t really hard at all; it became easy because I had no place for my own pain, my own misery, my own self-pity.

Fear is banished when we get the focus off of ourselves, our needs, our best, and we become genuinely for others.

Week in and week out, we have the privilege of sharing this transformational message of liberation. We are for you. We genuinely want to see fear cast out of you. Take a step to get irrational fear out and bold confidence in today. How? Get focused on your people getting ahead. Focus on someone else winning.

Have You Actually Been Apprenticed as a Leader?

What comes to mind when you think of apprenticeship? We like to think about the image of a cobbler. The process of becoming a true cobbler is quite involved. Nushoe repair describes it this way:

“To become a cobbler you will need to undergo training for about five good years. During the training, you will have to learn how to use all the equipment that this profession involves. In most cases, cobblers only train through apprenticeship which majorly involves learning at the job.”


Think about this image of the cobbler as it relates to leadership development. Stop and answer these two questions:

  1. Who has intentionally apprenticed you as a leader?
  2. Who are you intentionally apprenticing?

If you are like most leaders we interact with, these are sobering and sometime painful questions. In my leadership journey, growing up I had no concept of what a leader or apprenticeship were. I went through Marine Corps boot camp, and while I learned a ton about leadership and essential skills of being a leader, I still did not think of myself as a leader. In fact, I received the Navy & Marine Corps achievement medal for outstanding service and leadership and still had not thought of myself as a leader. Why? My leadership was accidental, not intentional.

Apprenticeship is the intentional transfer of knowledge, skills and expertise into the life of another.

Here’s what we know: Apprenticeship is rare. Very few of us have actually had someone intentionally transfer their leadership knowledge, skills and expertise into our lives.

This concept is what gets us up in the morning. Our expertise is in intentional apprenticeship. And it works.

“Why?” you ask. Take a look at the image below. Apprenticeship works because it leads to transformation. Dramatic, radical, real change.

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What is your next step? Do you need to find someone who is an intentional leader to apprentice you? Are you an intentional leader who needs to impart your knowledge, skills and expertise into the lives of those on your team?