One of the most enduring Native American traditions in our tribal communities is that of the warrior and the warrior spirit. Warriors made a commitment to use their Creator-given talents, abilities and power to serve their tribe, to lead by example and fight for something bigger than self. The warrior role has always been firmly rooted in service to others. The warrior spirit transcends race, gender and age and is available to every one of us. It is a mighty archetype to follow and emulate when it comes to serving at our best and achieving more in life, career and business.
The warrior spirit at work is an unstoppable force we can access that goes beyond motivation. It is a pre-determined decision to serve and succeed in the task at hand, somehow, someway, and a staunch refusal to quit. In my experience, it is so often the missing piece in creating successful communities, organizations and associations. We can have all the resources in the world when it comes to budget, time, personnel, etc., but if the warrior spirit at work is missing, it won’t translate into success. Because, the greatest obstacle to delivering great service to others is usually not a lack of resources. The greatest obstacle is apathy.
Harnessing a warrior spirit at work unleashes our internal drive, grit and passionate commitment to serve and solve problems despite obstacles, limits and setbacks. Sometimes it appears when we’re pushed against a wall and go through a loss, hard challenge or dramatic change. It makes us re-examine the question, who and what am I willing to fight for? When we activate this core power, we’re now willing to overcome any barrier, including our fear, pride and ego. We’re willing to sacrifice the time and energy required and push the limits of creativity, teamwork and innovation.
In 2008, when the economy fell apart, the first thing to go for organizations were training, travel and conferences. As a professional speaker who earned income by delivering my expertise to the people in those organizations, I was concerned. Concern turned to worry as suddenly one, two and then six programs were postponed or cancelled. Worry turned to fear. I entertained dark thoughts of not being able to take care of my family, of my business going under, of no longer being able to serve the clients to whom I was dedicated. I had to decide what to do. In desperation, fear and frustration, I mumbled the wrong question, “what do I do?” As I concentrated on accessing my warrior spirit, a better question appeared, “What CAN I do?” I quickly assessed my readily available resources – my knowledge, experience and the phone – and started calling every client I’d ever worked with, not asking for work, but just to get back on their radar and remind them of how I could serve them. That year was one of the best and most successful years I’d had up to that point in my career. That lesson was not lost on me and continuing to use that warrior spirit at work is the reason my programs and business continue to grow and improve each year.
When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, vast fields of strawberries were flooded and destroyed. The fruit was too ravaged and unappealing to sell. The farmers were devastated and depressed but refused to quit. After all, they had families and workers to take care of, so they recruited help from a pastry chef to see if there were any creative ways to salvage the crop. The chef had an idea to liquefy the strawberries into a dessert topping but found it would solidify cream instantly, so he considered it a failure. In his frustration, he turned to a pharmacy professor at Kanazawa University whose team found that it did make a terrible topping, but a compound found in the liquid from strawberries, polyphenol, was a perfect binding agent. From this, Kanazawa ice cream pops were created. They stay frozen for over an hour at room temperature! These resilient people utilized the warrior spirit at work, refused to quit, and instead found a way through force of will to act, be creative, use outside resources and find a way to make success from a tsunami.
Just like a muscle, we can practice and strengthen our warrior spirit when we fully complete our goals, do what we say we’ll do, recover after setbacks, brainstorm ways to improve and get help and outside answers when needed. Remember the warrior spirit is not about stoking our ego, it’s about getting things done and continuing to serve well, regardless of circumstances! When we tap into our warrior spirit at work each day, it’s our force multiplier, our secret weapon for overcoming challenges. In the months ahead, we’ll explore how to apply our warrior spirit at work and, like the example above, create some sweet results in return.