Like this frog, we are all brilliantly gifted and amazingly flawed.

Sometimes learning is harshly Darwinian.  Species over time either get stronger, wiser and more resilient, or they succumb to threats and predators. The simple truth: if we don’t embrace our challenges, we set our own trap.

I love this frog picture. Every time I see it, I wonder what kind of environment provides the necessary camouflage for these brilliant frogs to survive…let alone thrive?

I’m reflecting on the passing of another summer: personally, professionally, spiritually. Last week brought the closing of Minnesota Valley Country Club – my summer sanctuary.  While walking the course on the final day with my comrades, one member of “The Brotherhood” asked: “You’ve had a lot going on lately right?…So how was your summer really?” With 16 holes left to play, we had enough time to really talk.

The last round of golf this year at Minnesota Valley Country Club in Bloomington, Minnesota  provided the optimal setting for a Darwinian support group within “The Brotherhood.”

My reply? “I think I understand the concept: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” “Amen” was his reply.  Over the next three hours, the four of us talked about the difficulties within our families and friends: cancer battles, alcohol treatment, suicide attempts. Me, personally…I had three emergency room visits. We talked of ‘sandwich parenting’ — battling Alzheimer’s and Bipolar Depression. Businesses and dream jobs side-tracked.  Our 401ks and 529 plans riding the roller coaster. Kids struggling through high school and college.  All of these stories surfaced over three hours, within a small circle of four middle-aged suburban golfers.

Like the frog, we are all brilliantly gifted and amazingly flawed – vulnerable to attack from so many angles. With each new fairway story, we bonded around our courage, persistence and resolution to keep moving forward.  It’s as though the final golf round of the year gave us permission to lasso ourselves together in an impromptu Darwinian support group. That’s unusual for guys. (I’m lucky I get to write about this stuff…)

Isn’t that why we invest in friends?

Today, I feel stronger and more alive knowing I’m not alone working through the challenges. We’re all working through something. Sometimes life is hard.  Like my friends, I choose to get stronger…and continue seeing my own future as bright as the frog.

Good leaders embrace their gifts and flaws as fuel for growth — at home and in the office.  And they surround themselves with friends who help them get stronger and wiser in the face of Darwinian challenges.

Drop me a note: how do your latest challenges fuel your personal and professional growth?