The economy is in the midst of a depression. Your company is fighting for it’s life and it’s employees are fighting for their livelihoods.
Or the company is coming off the back of a monumental year. You’re sitting on a mountain of cash. But because you’ve achieved your external objectives, your people are focusing on internal objectives. Their own career and getting credit. A vicious political struggle is occurring within the ranks.
In the above scenarios, the CEO has a choice. He can respond in one of two ways. Step up. Or step down.
It’s the same in our personal lives. No matter the seriousness of the conditions confronting us, we face the same choice. Step up. Or step down.
If we step up, we meet the challenge with cold determination. We solve the problem by becoming a better person. A better friend, a better parent, a better partner. We impose ourselves upon the issue rather than the reverse.
If we step down, we sever ties. We allow relationships to fade, problems to compound to unimaginable proportions, and minor cuts to fester and become unhealable wounds. We meet difficulty with surrender and a relinquishing of control.
But here’s the thing. The step up is not really a step. It’s a climb. A step is easy. You just have to lift your leg a little. A climb is harder. You have to carry your entire bodyweight higher and higher. And there’s more risk. You could fall.
And the step down is not really a step either. It’s like throwing yourself down a slide. Once you start the descent, it’s very hard to stop it. And you can’t come back up via the same route. Stepping or sliding down sets a precedent that is difficult to break.
The decision, ultimately, is yours. In any situation, personal or professional, there’s a binary choice. A choice you’ll have to make day in, day out, for the rest of your life. Step up. Or step down.