Be the Flame: 6 Principles for Leading Through Difficult Times

UPDATED: April 8, 2022
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2022
Be the Flame: 6 Principles for Leading Through Difficult Times

“You are not here merely to make a living,” president Woodrow Wilson once said. “You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

We all operate with a certain set of principles. These principles aren’t ones we often put into writing or even speak aloud, but they help us be resilient in times of chaos or confusion—switching industries mid-career, for example. But there is value in reflecting on them and jotting them down. They become more powerful, more permanent.

I recently visited two multimillionaires who happen to be married to each other. We spent four hours swapping backgrounds and what worked to get them where they are today. As with most stories from high-earners, it involved massive dedication, perseverance and impeccable timing. The husband created the home warranty sector for real estate years ago, and the wife created an online auction company during the 2008 economic crisis.

As with every guest on the Brilliant Thoughts podcast, I asked what they consider to be the secrets to their success. As if rehearsed, they both answered, “resilience.”

Over the next several days, I took time to reflect on the conversation and its core theme of resilience. Here’s the thing: Being alive guarantees you to face challenges, disappointments and setbacks. How you respond to them will determine your quality of life. That’s why resilience is so crucial. The grit, the raw and the essence of resilience is what makes great success stories. It propels us to where we want to go and who we want to be.

I think it’s beautiful to see a leader respond to adversity with determination and perseverance. But resilience alone isn’t enough, which is why I crafted six leadership principles—a combination of the nuts and bolts of quality leadership crafted from years of interviewing great leaders, reading hundreds of books about leadership and hosting incredible people on the podcast.

I hope these serve as a guide, whether you’re a first-time leader or a veteran C-Suite executive.

1. Innovation: A great leader looks for opportunities to make an impact in the world—whether it’s a way of doing things differently or creating brand new sectors altogether.

2. Systems: Every leader knows the importance of systems and processes. Without them, there is no scaling. Without scaling, there can be no massive growth. Systems are all about creating steps that can be duplicated easily.

3. People First: All great leaders value people more than anything. Consider Sam Walton: “If you want a successful business, your people must feel that you are working for them—not that they are working for you.” Without the right people and without treating people right, you will go nowhere fast.

4. Awareness: Call it emotional intelligence, social awareness or just plain awareness—bottom line, you need it. Awareness means leaders understand the repercussions of their actions and words. In our current environment, it’s something widely missing among many so-called leaders.

5. Resilience: With all the things that will go wrong in your business and life, you must be passionate and gritty enough to get through it. Being a great leader requires resilience because things will get hard and there will be days you wish you were not leading the way.

6. Kindness: With so much hate, anger and wanton opinions, kindness can feel like a lost principle. I’m here to remind you that the greatest leaders are kind and compassionate. They set aside their ego and are empathetic. They lead with love, they lead with hope, they lead with grace, which means they lead with kindness. And leadership like that brings down walls and unites people. 

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 Issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo by @rebecca-minkoffekah/Twenty20.

Tristan Ahumada is the People Editor for SUCCESS, operates Lab Coat Agents as its CEO, consults Fortune 500 companies, runs a successful Real Estate team in California, expansion teams in the U.S. (in different brokerages), owner in one Brokerage, currently sits on different boards for tech companies, and is also an international speaker. His love for technology and systems pushes him to test and use the latest products for growth for all businesses around the world including Real Estate Agents/Brokers. Tristan is from Southern California where he currently lives with his wife and two kids.