Life and Leadership are Difficult, Lean In

Our family adopted a new dog late last fall. She’s an all-American mix with energy to spare. 

We recently decided it was time to get some dog training. We called a few places, and a trainer visited our family last week. 

I’m not sure why they call it dog training. It’s actually people training. It’s about how we interact with the dog. It’s about our expectations of the dog and her willingness to conform to those expectations. 

In other words, it’s like the rest of life. So much is dictated by expectations. 

Against the backdrop of thinking about expectations, I listened to an interview with Eddie Ndopu, who is speaking at Human Intelligence next month. He said, “90% of children with disabilities have never seen the inside of a classroom. . . I use my life to demonstrate to children with disabilities that they can become the protagonist in the story of their own lives.”

The 90% statistic floored me. 

The fact that Eddie, who is physically disabled, uses his life to inspire others with disabilities to be the protagonist in their own lives inspires me. 

It also challenges me.

Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled, begins, “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

Too often, I have embraced the lie that if I were doing everything “right,” life would be easy. 

This expectation sets up the difficulties of life to be more burdensome. 

So I must train my mind to expect challenges and difficulties. I must prepare myself with discipline and habits to remain positive and encouraging amidst the struggle. 

And as a leader, I must encourage others to do the same. 

So thanks, Eddie, for setting an example. Not just for children with disabilities but for all of us. 

Thanks for using your story to inspire us to live our stories, especially when life is difficult.

One More Thing

Eddie Ndopu will be a keynote speaker at Leadercast: Human Intelligence.

Edward (Eddie) Ndopu wasn’t expected to live past the age of five. But now he is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed South African disabled humanitarian working with the UN. Ndopu is a beacon of hope and possibility for the one billion people living with disabilities worldwide. Eddie believes, “Leaving no one behind means giving way for the most vulnerable segments of society to move from the back of the line to the front so they can lead.”

His new book Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw, releases on August 1. You can pre-order one copy or in bulk.


Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford is Director of Content and Product Strategy for Leadercast. Brian has been telling stories professionally for twenty-five years. Stories that inspire people to see themselves and the world differently. Stories that challenge people to take meaningful action in the world.

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