Exhortation is encouragement on steroids
Obstacles are Problems impeding Movement that must be solved before the Group can continue forward. If an Obstacle arises before the Group has Accelerated into full Momentum, it can stop Movement in its tracks, no matter how small it is. Such is the power of the Status Quo to suck a man back to earth just as he has started to fly.
While Exhortation is the last of the four F3 Leadership Skills, in many respects it is the most important because, without it, nothing happens. Just as no plan (no matter how brilliant) survives first contact with the enemy absent Leadership, no Vision (no matter how powerfully Articulated) will sustain Movement through the first Obstacle it meets without Exhortation. It is part of the blocking and tackling required to execute the play the Leader draws up on the whiteboard.
Because he is Prepared, the Effective Leader expects Obstacles to appear in his Group’s path and stays ready to Exhort his followers to breach them by Incentivizing them into pushing through what they may see as an impenetrable wall. The Effective Leader does this Dynamically, with energetic and vigorous force. Through Exhortation, he changes his Group’s perception of an Obstacle from an unscalable mountain into a molehill that can be traversed through persistence.
While Exhortation is encouragement on steroids, it must always stop short of compulsion. If a Leader resorts to bullying his followers, he is a tyrant not a Leader. Although the line between Exhortation and tyranny is clear, it cannot be objectively drawn because it depends on the nature of the Obstacle and the relationship between the Leader and his followers. Much like the Supreme Court’s view on pornography—while a Leader may not be able to define it, he must know it when he sees it.
Fear of Pain and Chaos is a powerful Obstacle
By nature, people seek Personal Comfort by avoiding anything that might cause them the Pain of emotional or physical Hardship . As a result, fear of Pain is a powerful Obstacle to Movement, which is why the Status Quo remains such a compelling place in the heart of the procrastinating men that we all are. It is there, as compared to Movement, that the Pain that necessarily results from change can be avoided. And we do not like Pain. We are animals programmed for survival to avoid it. Movement causes change and change results in Pain. Thus, the brain screams at the body to stay right the heck where it is. And the body usually obeys.
The Chaos of uncontrollable circumstances is Pain’s evil twin Brother. Like Pain, Chaos naturally results from Movement away from the Status Quo. When we Move, we encounter new ground, new people and new circumstances which (because they are new) present us with challenges we have never before confronted. And, since we haven’t seen them before, we are naturally afraid that we will not be able to rise to them. Thus, like fear of Pain, fear of Chaos is a powerful Obstacle to Movement.
Note that we are not saying that it is Pain and Chaos themselves that inhibit Movement, but only the fear of them. This is because a man must be in motion to actually feel Pain and encounter Chaos, and if that is true he must not have let fear of either condition bring him to a grinding halt. In other words, he has somehow set aside his fear of Hardship sufficiently that he could keep moving forward. And when he does, he generally discovers that he has enough moxie to drive through both Pain and Chaos—the fear of the Hardship was far worse than the Hardship itself.