Today’s post is the featured article from the October 2008 issue of  The Front Porch Newsletter.  If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.

blumbergface1Difficult times certainly bring their challenges — and opportunities. I am reminded of Charles Dickens’ quote in A Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness — it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.

These words could easily describe America in 2008. You might look and respond — yes, for some it is a season of light and for others a season of darkness. For some a spring of hope, yet for others a winter of despair. This might be true — but not in the sense of the “haves” and the “have nots.”

In the months ahead, what we experience might very well be what we have chosen to experience. In many keynotes, I often share a slide that simply says: The circumstances in which we find ourselves are often beyond our control — but the response we choose is not! I am certain, on this very day, we could find many “haves” in a winter of despair and many “have nots” experiencing a spring of hope.

There is no question we are in the midst of some interesting circumstances. How we respond will determine if it is an age of wisdom or an age of foolishness. I would suggest an age of foolishness brought us to this place — it just appeared to be the best of times. And what would appear to be an upcoming winter of despair might rather be the dawning of an age of wisdom.

I am convinced there is great wisdom to be found within our circumstances. And our opportunity is imbedded in how we choose to respond. How wise will our response prove to be?

Anyone can survive in a leadership position in the “best of times.” It is within a season of darkness, where the smallest cracks of light reveal the real leaders. I sense the crosswinds of a teachable moment among us — and we, in the midst of this age, will see examples of leadership. Both good and bad!

Followers are watching. And in the years ahead, some will become great leaders — as the former students of today’s teachable moments. They will be watching the motives behind the messages. They will come to understand the authenticity of proclaimed cultures and values. And they see if necessary business decisions were made with empathy or simply efficiency.

These are times where every decision is tested — and where choices are noticed. It is where the darkness of inconsistencies shines brightly.

And it is where real leaders are born. Happy Birthday to those who are ready to truly lead!