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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “warrior” as “a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.” Synonyms include fighter, man-at-arms, serviceman, soldier and trooper. The truth is that the intense struggle to overcome conflict is essential for becoming a warrior.

To be a leader in any field, including the construction industry, one must also be a warrior. This means exhibiting the ongoing ability to improvise, accept challenges, adapt to dynamic situations and problem-solve.

In 218 BC, during the Second Punic War, Hannibal (not the one from "Silence of the Lambs") came up with one of the boldest and seemingly far-fetched plans in military history. The Romans were at their peak and had just defeated the Carthaginians in Northern Africa. Knowing he couldn’t attack the well-fortified Romans on land or sea, Hannibal engaged the Romans’ northern flank after crossing the Alps—a preposterous move deemed nearly impossible even today. This included moving 30,000 soldiers, 37 war elephants and 15,000 horses across one of the most treacherous mountain ranges in the world in only 16 days.

An unthinkable task, Hannibal’s foresight, creative thinking and deep knowledge of the terrain, his troops and opposition resulted in an unprecedented victory and the phrase "Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam," which means “I will find a way or make one.”

Now, while no one is suggesting such a drastic approach to business, there are some very serious takeaways that construction firms big and small can learn from the story.

Leadership isn’t a given

Titles alone will not establish leadership or ensure the ability to instill trust, confidence and drive. Whether it’s setting the standard internally for employees or gaining the respect of colleagues and the marketplace, leaders lead through the continued display of purpose, tenacity, adaptability, grit and sacrifice.

Purpose
Every successful venture starts with a purpose that is most often defined by the individual’s experiences. Without a purpose rooted in experience, most behaviors are just robotic. So, it’s essential to find a purpose worthy of the energy it deserves. Being a warrior in this environment means never deviating from the mission, no matter the obstacles and remembering that failures and disappointment are facts of life that are often accompanied by valuable learning experiences.

Adaptability
The ability to adapt to different situations is crucial to entrepreneurialism and being a great warrior. In fact, sustainability is impossible without the drive to grow, learn and overcome new and unexpected problems.

In quickly changing times like these, it is integral to stand up to tough challenges with creative ideas that start with good customer service, innovative products that fill a purpose and action plans that are seen all the way through. This includes anticipating and confronting the probable and improbable with backup plans filled with multiple contingencies. The truth is that no one foresaw the devastating effects of the pandemic until the business slowdown was well underway. Disaster planning is a lot like insurance. You hope you’ll never need it, but you better make sure it’s in place when you do.

Grit
Never let anything stand in the way of a life’s mission. While not new, the idea of never giving up is not a concept many people take seriously. The mantra is drilled into the minds of U.S. Marines. Mission accomplishment is priority number one and troop welfare is number two. This includes looking beyond personal limitations to work toward peak potential. Be bold, take the initiative and be proactive. A good strategy is always the best defense for bad situations.

Sacrifice, Stability and Balance
Although many consider sacrifice something to be avoided and feared, the truth is that it can actually be a beautiful and rare gift. It provides perspective, the ability to prioritize and builds discipline. The embrace of sacrifice is critical for the entrepreneurs and warriors willing to give up the safety of the floor for the reach of a ceiling without limits. New ventures are like babies that need to be nurtured. Setbacks happen, mistakes should be seen as learning experiences and stability takes time, especially when entering the murky new business waters.

However, there is only so much one person can handle. Being ready to sacrifice certain aspects of your personal life and health can drastically and unexpectedly halt the dreams of contractors looking to take advantage of every opportunity without a break. Warriors are expected to sacrifice their time and lives all the time, but it is important for that sacrifice to be balanced and weighed in reality and against the price of success. “You’re nothing without your health and the love of others” is all too true and should never be dismissed or taken for granted.

Never forget that nothing’s impossible just because it hasn’t been done. Conquering adversity often means reaching deep down to find the foresight, due diligence and perseverance to triumph. Just ask Hannibal, any true warrior or any U.S. service person.

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