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  • James Lord

The Finest Hour

The ancient proverb, “The darkest hour is just before dawn,” has been modified and repurposed throughout history.

Many people credit Winston Churchill for coining the phrase “The Darkest Hour” when he spoke of it during WWII. Churchill gave his “Finest Hour” speech in June of 1940.

More recently, many of us may remember this line being used in the 1995 film Apollo 13, when flight director Gene Krantz responds, “With all due respect, sir, I believe this is going to be hour finest hour.” You can see this memorable clip here:

Like Churchill did during WWII, Krantz wasn’t ignorant of the fact that they were facing significant danger – but he knew that, when the pressure is on, people have an amazing capability of doing extraordinary things that seem to defy odds at times.

It takes real, authentic leadership to be able to see the light, even during the darkest of times.

The outdoor adventurer Bear Grylls once said, “Why is it that the finish line always tends to appear just after the point at which we most want to give up? Is it the universe’s way of reserving the best for those who can give the most? What I do know, from nature, is that the dawn only appears after the darkest hour.”

Most of us in leadership roles are not risking or saving lives. We’re not working for NASA or the Armed Forces (but bless those who are). The stakes may not be as high, but the leadership we need and the impact it can have on our team’s ability to shine are very much as real as it is in these examples.

How many times have we seen our teams achieve 99% of their plan or target? In my experience, NEVER. Real leaders do not give up when their team is inches away from the goal. Leaders find a way to dig deep and help their teams find the energy they didn’t know they had in them to keep moving forward. In those moments, sometimes miracles can happen. But only when you see the light before everyone else – and you keep moving forward. Otherwise, you succumb to the darkness and accept defeat.

Be the person on your team who sees what’s possible – you may be responsible for your own Finest Hour.

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