A central theme in my decades of trying to understand, apply, and teach leadership skills is that leadership is an action, not a position. Leadership is what we do, not who we are. Who we become is determined by what we repeatedly think and do. All too many people in leadership roles don’t act like leaders. And there are many people who haven’t been given formal leadership authority but are very strong leaders. We all need to be leaders – in our personal lives or taking a leading role in our family, communities, profession, relationships, or workplace.

Whether we choose to be leaders or not shines clearest when we face tough turbulence, nasty adversity, or unpleasant change in any part of our lives. Those trying times often involve suffering or loss. That could be loss of a loved one, our health or physical mobility, a relationship, a job, money, autonomy, control, or status. During these times we can lead, we can follow, or we can wallow.

The choices we make are the glasses we put on to view our situation. When we choose how to look at the challenge we’re hit with – often unexpectedly – we choose the frame to put around it. That frame makes our situation appear larger or smaller or brighter or darker. These choices create our reality. Bit by bit these choices accumulate to create our life. And they determine our personal health and happiness and our team and organizational success.