A quick search will tell you the phrase ‘hold fast’ is a nautical term that originates from a dutch word “houd vast”, or hold tight, referring to holding securely to a ship’s ropes and rigging. The same search also reveals that in the Bible ‘holding fast’ means to hold your position, fix your gaze, not lose sight of.
Is there a better phrase for what a leader needs to be doing?
I know many of my greatest setbacks and failures occur when I have drifted from the standard we have chosen as a team, or the standard I have embraced for myself. When I lose sight of the long-term goal, my daily actions immediately suffer.
Unproductive choices become reasonable, even acceptable, when the standard has been compromised. When I hold fast to the standard, my choices become clear.
When the standards are high, the options are limited. It’s going to be difficult and it’s going to be challenging, but it’s rarely going to be confusing. It’s going to take what it takes.
The question is rarely can we … it’s will we?
Why Should We Care? Let’s first be clear that we are talking about a standard, not a goal or specific outcome. Standards are behavior based. They do not guarantee the desired result, but they give us the best chance at attaining the desired result, but do not always produce it.
By focusing on standards, we are zeroed in on something we control - our behavior. This is where the clarity resides. As long as we are focused on controllables, the choices are simple. As soon as we are pulled from the standard and beginning focusing on the result, each decision becomes cloudy - every choice has options that could lead to the desired result if this, this, and this happen.
Inevitably those choices drag us from the standard we had originally accepted. At first, it’s just a little … then a little more. You know it goes from there.
Rather than try to wade through the muddy water, we are better off to intentionally choose a set standard and hold fast. No debates, no but ifs … decide and hold fast.
REAL TALK - Action Steps Clearly some personal reflection and work must be done before having any idea what standards you may want to hold fast to. That certainly needs to take place, but is a separate conversation. For this, we’ll concentrate on the how to holding fast.
I’m a pretty to-my-self person. I prefer to keep things private, especially if it involves my personal standards and vision. Regardless of how committed and convicted I am about something, I always benefit from the additional responsibility I feel from wanting to uphold my standard. When those close to me know my standards, I want to live up to it a little more. Sometimes that little more is all it takes.
Know Your Inner Circle
Know the people that will support your standard and spend time with them. Everyone won’t support you, which is fine. But, those that will champion your standard and hold you to it when you start to sway, those people are the ones that love you. Find those people.
It’s been said many times, many ways but the best time to start is now. Things will never be so perfectly aligned that you’ve eliminated all problems and obstacles. Nor, should you want it to. It’s those obstacles that make the standard worth holding fast to in the first place. And, when you fail - and you should fail if that standard is worth holding to - start again.
Simple concept: Choose your standard and hold fast. Not so simple in execution. Avoid the rollercoaster that calls for your standards to change. Keep it simple. When things are good - hold fast. When things are bad - hold fast.
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