Published May 4, 2020

The Power of a Challenge


Tracey Olivier and Craig Groeschel at a leadership training and coaching event in New Zealand in 2019

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I love this photo. Not because I am in a once-in-a-lifetime moment standing on a stage with one of my heroes, but this exact moment caught on camera captures a catalytic moment.

I can’t even remember exactly what Craig Groeschel and I were saying, but I do remember that Craig challenged me. If I had to caption this it would be with a speak bubble over Craig saying, “Really?!” And a thought bubble over me saying, “Busted.” And this in front of a few hundred leaders in the room.

But here’s the thing—this moment was not humiliating, even though my legs were literally shaking, and my heart was pounding so loud I was sure the microphone would pick it up.

It was one of the most empowering moments of my life.

Why? Because as I looked into his eyes, there was a genuine care for me as he saw me and my potential. It wasn’t just his words, but his eyes, face and even his body language said the same thing, “I care, and I believe in the best of you.” Even though he was challenging me, at no point did I feel unsafe or in danger. I felt safe and I knew I could trust him in that moment.

Speaking the truth in love.

In these days of being so politically correct and trying not to offend anyone, we have lost our ability to speak truth to people in love.  It is not enough to speak truth—the key is it must be in love—a real concern to see that person grow. “Truth” is so relative these days. It has become so diluted and polluted.

It is not enough to speak truth—the key is it must be in love—a real concern to see that person grow.

I have had feedback in my life from different leaders, and some of it left me wounded and shrinking. Some has been particularly hard to hear but it came with such love, honor and respect that as the challenge sizzled through to the heart of the issue like a flaming hot sword, it also cleansed and healed parts that were festering and broken. As the words found their mark, it was the love flowing like a thick golden oil that brought quick healing and change.

This kind of challenge or feedback causes us to grow. Yes, it stings, yes it hurts, yes, it’s hard to hear, but let’s not become so concerned for comfort that we neglect to welcome the pain of truth that will make us uncomfortable but be the catalyst for growth. If those words are fueled by love and concern, they will find their mark and they will have a lasting impact. But you also must open up, and instead of blocking and protecting yourself, you need to trust and surrender to it.

If you don’t care for the people you lead, it will be very hard to give feedback that brings life and growth.

If you don’t care for the people you lead, it will be very hard to give feedback that brings life and growth.

I nearly didn’t write this sentence because I know many will be thinking, there is no place for this stuff in the business environment. People just need to do their job. The thing is, people are not machines, they are whole people. If you as a leader don’t see all of them and can’t find the beauty in them, I am honestly going to believe that your leadership will be limited and possibly a little self-centered. Ouch! I know that is harsh, but in your heart of hearts you know it’s true.

If we don’t care for people, it is easy to write them off and potentially even a wee bit satisfying to “take them down a notch or two.”

You have that power. But remember, they leave work either built up or broken down and they take that home.

Your impact is huge—let it be for good.

About the Author
Tracey Olivier Headshot

Tracey Olivier

Strategic Intervention Coach

Tracey Olivier Consulting; Cambridge Chamber of Business

Tracey Oliver’s mission is to passionately pursue her purpose to encourage, equip and ignite others to do the same. She works with leaders so that they can build, release and empower others for excellence. She does this by working with successful, but frustrated leaders to unlock their brilliance and ignite their vision so others can follow, equipping them with the tools for creating healthy teams. South African born, Tracey now lives in Cambridge, New Zealand. She is married to her best friend for more than 26 years and have three gorgeous boys. She is a facilitator, consultant, speaker, author and occasional blogger.