On Tuesday, July 14, Pivot virtually hosted the third Huddle focused on the mantra ‘Do Hard Things: What would you do if you weren’t scared?’ with Jim Olson. Jim has 25 years of experience working with some of the world’s best-known brands, including Starbucks, United Airlines, Nissan, and US Airways, and is also one of the world’s most tested crisis management advisers. He recently left the Fortune 500 world to join the African Leadership University to empower a new generation of African leaders.
Our founder, Stacia, hosted the fireside chat with Jim and below are some of the highlights from the conversation.
To start, we learned about the Do Hard Things mantra and its origins.
This mantra is rooted in JFK’s inspiring speech about how we chose to go to the moon…and how we do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. It’s the slogan of the African Leadership University where Jim currently resides.
As Jim was deciding to move his family across the ocean, he chose to ask himself ‘why not’ instead of ‘what if’. He knew he had a responsibility to himself and the world to do something big rather than small and he would be missing out if he passed up the opportunity to work at ALU, even if it was on a different continent.
Even if everything does go wrong, don’t abandon your dreams and plans, instead embrace your vulnerability.
We often assume we made a wrong turn when in reality, they end up being the best decisions down the road. Do not live in fear of making a mistake, rather ask yourself what you are missing out on since the wrong turns can often lead to the best views.
It is easy to doubt our choices, which is why Jim had to reflect on his own purpose when deciding to make the leap into a new profession across the world.
Ask three questions to find your intego, which means purpose in the Rwandan national language of Kinyarwanda.
What do you love doing? If money was not a necessity and you had no fear, what would you be doing right now?
What are you great at doing? This question is hard, so rather than figuring out what you think you are great at or what you want to be known for, dive into what you are known for being great at by others.
What does the world need you to do? Find ways to make the world a better place by leveraging your skills and purpose.
Even when you understand your purpose, there will be continuous challenges that arise. Such obstacles may require you to move backward before you can move forward, allowing you to be fully prepared.
Moving forward is not dependent on moving up, just like in mountain climbing.
Jim’s article summarized this idea nicely, “The only way you will make it to the top of the highest peaks is by actually descending several times to properly acclimate. In fact, failing to backtrack will often lead to altitude sickness and, in many cases, death. Career climbing requires the same patience and acclimation — climbing the corporate ladder too fast without the necessary descents to base camp along the way is a recipe for professional and often personal tragedy.”
The air is thin at the top, meaning it can often be lonely and cold once you do reach the top of the corporate ladder. For this reason, moving lateral or even backwards might be the best option depending where you are in your career progression.
We hope you are as inspired by Jim’s story and mantra as we are. Don’t forget to Do Hard Things and push yourself to find your intego. We’re excited for the next Huddle to learn more about the great “Return to Work” and how different communicators are managing the change.
We’re excited for the next Huddle to learn more about navigating the return to office during COVID. Click here to register for this upcoming event!