The other night I watched a documentary called ‘No Place On Earth’ that Explored the Remarkable Story of 38 Jews Who Hid In a Cave For 511 Days
This story was so overwhelmingly powerful that I immediately saw synergy between this incredible human endeavour and the way we act with our Leadership culture within our organisations.
When we truly believe in something, we are motivated to secure it, against all odds, no matter how difficult the journey. If we do not believe in what we believe 100% we will not lift a finger to help see it through. It is our deep- seated, innate devotion that makes success so crucial from any leader’s perspective.
In the spring of 1944, a group of 38 Ukrainian Jews emerged weak and jaundiced from a cave they’d used for nearly two years to escape the horrors of the Holocaust.
In 1942, as Hitler intensified his hold on Eastern Europe, a group of Jewish families disappeared into some of the vast underground caves and labyrinths of western Ukraine. This group ranged from toddlers to grandmothers, and for the next few years they lived, worked, ate and slept directly under the feet of those that would have sent them to their ultimate deaths. And yet the story had been forgotten until an American caver stumbled across the remnants of their underground home and set out to find out the survivors.
The extended family and several others lived in two separate caves for a total of nearly two years, including 344 consecutive days inside the colossal underground sanctuary known as ‘Priest’s Grotto’.
These families had no previous experience or equipment to deal with this situation. What they did have however, was a close knit family, a few helpful friends above ground, and the determination, leadership and teamwork to survive.
Spending such a length of time in a cave seems almost impossible, especially when you consider they had to contend with malnutrition; smoke from their cooking fire contaminating water sources; and getting lost in the pitch black labyrinth, and bats ( which carried disease); Smoke was particularly dangerous. One of the small children almost died from smoke inhalation in the first cave due to conditions of poor ventilation.
This family had no choice but to learn to adapt quickly and along the way developed some absolutely ingenious ways to overcome these hardships against all the odds. With few candles, light was limited to three short periods each day. Working as a close knit team they spent many hours wandering in the dark, memorizing the feel of the cave floor with their bare feet. It was like being blind and only feeling the directions in Braille.
What It Teaches Us
Their story teaches us some amazing lessons: Trust, family, loyalty, survival, and perseverance.
Are you really leading your team against all the Odds?
What is the culture of your leadership journey? Do you recognise Persistence and resilience will ultimately build the bridges between adversity and excellence in your organisation whether large or small?
The deepest questions, insights, awareness and answers rarely come to us as leaders or managers when we are sitting at the top of the mountain of success feeling like the keys to the universe are all ours.
No matter who we are, no matter what we have captured or accomplished; our success, achievement, sense of personal power, value or fulfilment can always change in a blink of an eye. We must constantly strive to keep on top of our goals.
The greatest power we hold is not in what we have, but in who we truly are when we choose to ignite, engage and unleash the leader we want our team to follow.
The worst life scenarios; the most adverse of treatment, abuse, humiliation, the greatest of failures, the pain of dealing with a threatening illness, or a personal stumbling block cannot steal the faith, hope, courage, potential and determination that burns inside us, unless we let it.
Resistance To Change
Here are 12 typical reasons why you may be resistance as a leader to the change you need that will set you apart from your competitors and make a real difference in your organisations culture;
- Lack of competence — Your team or employees will seldom admit to this, however a change in organisational traits necessitates changes in skills, and often you will not be able to make these transitions easily without confidence building.
- Misinterpretation about the need for change- If your staff do not understand the importance of the need for change and moving forward, this will result in resistance. Especially from those who strongly believe the current way of doing things works well…and has not been challenged by the threat of failure
- Zero trust — If your team are not properly briefed and given the confidence to be trusted to create new ways of working there is likely to be resistance
- Temporary Whim— So many employees belief that the change initiative is a temporary fad and after a few weeks/months will just slip back to the old ways. The momentum must be kept up. The family in the cave will have needed constant reassurance that they would get out alive and not just believed for a short time that they would escape and after this time no hope would set in
- Not being consulted — If your team are allowed to be part of the change there is less resistance. People like to know what’s going on, especially if their jobs may be affected. To work towards the end goal your team will need to be consulted and trusted with their own ideas
- Exhaustion/intensity — People who are overwhelmed by continuous change often end up resigning themselves to it and go along with the flow anyway. So you have them in body, but you do not have their hearts. Motivation hits rock bottom if this had happened in the cave everyone would have perished for sure!
- Poor communication — this is self evident. Poor communication is the downfall of all teams. If the family had not communicated at every level they would certainly have not survived!
- Changes to routines —Everyone has to step outside their own comfort zone even to the extent that they may feel uncomfortable in the short term to get long term benefits
- Fear of the unknown — One of the most common reasons for resistance is fear of the unknown. You team will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe and trust 100% in what you are asking them to do
- Benefits and rewards — Benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved so make sure you motivate with regular rewards. In the cave this trait would have keep families going from the day to day routine.
AND FINALLY, Change is a journey…
Why Manage Change?
Change is the articulation of any strategic journey. As Change Leaders, it is our task to connect every impacted individual to that journey in such a way that they are able to change their own world of work in a lasting, meaningful and responsible way.
“A leader gains strength, power and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt.