Defining Moments Show Us Who We Really Are
Most days in our lives come and go they are much like all the others and don’t stand out. But there are a few days that are unlike all the others. They do stand out because they give us an opportunity to stand up, be set apart from the rest of the crowd, and seize that moment or to remain sitting with the rest of the crowd and let it pass. These moments which bring for better or worse condition define us and they show us what we are really made of. We often focus on the milestones of life, important events that mark seasons and accomplishments. We happily anticipate a graduation, wedding, or promotion. But some of our defining moments come as a total surprise, often appearing during times of crisis:
• Facing a personal failure
• Taking a stand on an issue
• Experiencing suffering
• Being asked to forgive
• Making an unpleasant choice
Sometimes we can sense the importance of our actions in the moment. We can see two clear paths ahead of us, one leading up, and the other down. Other times, sadly, our defining moments occur and we don’t see them for what they are. Only afterward, when time has passed and we look back, does we understand their importance. Either way, they define who we are.
Always keep in mind, the choices we make in critical moments help to form us and to inform others about who we are.
Defining Moments Declare to Others Who We Are
Most days we can wear masks and hide who we are from the people around us. During defining moments, we can’t do that. Our resumes mean nothing. It doesn’t matter how we have marketed ourselves. Our image means nothing. Defining moments put the spotlight on us where everyone will pay directly attention to us. We have no time to put a spin on our actions. Whatever is truly inside us is revealed to everyone. Our character isn’t made during these times, it is displayed!
For leaders, defining moments tell the people following them many of the things they really want to know: who their leaders are, what they stand for, and why they are leading. Handled well, a defining moment can cement a relationship and bond leaders and followers for life. Handled poorly, a defining moment can cost a leader his credibility and end his ability to lead. For example is leadership of President George W. Bush. His first term in office was defined by his response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. He connected with the hearts of the American people, and even people who hadn’t voted for him were willing to give his leadership a chance.
However, his second term of office was defined by his poor response to Katrina. It took only a few days for the people of the United States to feel the leadership vacuum—and even for many of the president’s supporters to disapprove of his leadership. The defining moments of leaders can have a dramatic effect on others. When leaders respond correctly, everyone wins. When they respond incorrectly, everyone loses.
Defining Moments Determine Who We Will Become
You will never be the same person after a defining moment. Somehow you will be moved and may be forward, or it may be backward, but make no mistake about it. Why is that? This is because defining moments are not normal, and what’s “normal” doesn’t work in those times. Defining moments of your leadership is actually intersections in our lives. They give us an opportunity to turn, change direction, and seek a new destination. They present options and opportunities. In these moments, we must choose. And the choice we make will define us! What will we do? Our response puts us on a new path, and that new path will define who we will become in the future. After a defining moment, we will never be the same person again.