The Breaking Point

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The Breaking Point

Black Belt Leadership
The Breaking Point
John L. Terry III - The Black Belt Leader

Tensile strength is defined as the maximum amount of stress a material can endure while being stretched or placed under a load before breaking. Any material being used for pulling, towing, or building is subjected to tensile strength testing to assure it is capable of withstanding the stresses placed upon it.

The recent structural failures at the Millennium Tower and Salesforce Tower both demonstrated what can happen when a tensile strength failure occurs. The engineering failure at the Salesforce Tower disrupted transportation in the San Francisco area as it was to serve as a transportation hub for the city. A small structural failure led to a massive disruption that still isn't fully resolved to this day.

Assuring any material being placed under stress can withstand the forces placed against it is critical to its survival.

People are no different. Each of us has a "breaking point" at which the pressures of life bring us to a point of failure. Anyone who has ever experienced a broken bone, torn cartilage or injured joint can attest to that. But people break in other ways, too.

People can "break" mentally or emotionally, as well as physically. The stresses of life can become so intense, so severe, so traumatizing, something inside of us "snaps" and we experience a tensile strength failure in our lives. This is often manifested in an emotional outburst, such as anger or rage. It's a sign something is broken and needs repair.

When hemp was first turned into rope, it became a tool for pulling and securing. But an individual strand of rope can only endure so much stress before it snaps. By braiding individual strands of rope together, individuals were able to enhance the tensile strength of the rope, allowing it to withstand greater stresses without breaking.

Iron is a metal found in the earth. It is incredibly strong, but it does have a breaking point. Metallurgists discovered when you mix iron and carbon, you create steel. Steel is an alloy that is stronger and more durable than iron. By adding something to an already strong material, metallurgists were able to make it even stronger.

By the same token leaders are strong, but they do have a breaking point. Leaders need to understand their own structural limitations. They need to conduct an honest evaluation of their own abilities and skillset, identifying their own strengths and weaknesses in the process. They need to not only evaluate their own physical condition but their mental and emotional condition as well.

A leader needs to know his or her tensile strength rating and evaluate how they can take themselves through a process of strengthening themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally. Becoming a better version of yourself through a lifestyle of learning is similar to the making of steel. You're adding to what's already strong, making you stronger.

Leaders also need to understand the "breaking point" of those on their team. They need to understand the stresses they are under, the limitations under which they are working, and whether or not the expectations placed upon them are realistic and achievable. Far too many teams experience fractures, tactile strength failures, that inhibit their success. If they experience enough of these failures, the cohesion of the team will ultimately break.

Leaders are also metallurgists. Part of their responsibility to those they are leading is to add to their team in such a way as to make them better, stronger, able to better handle the pressures of their job. Leaders equip their followers to better manage the stress that is a part of growing as an organization, and to ultimately strengthen their resolve, improve their skillset, enhance their mental and emotional resolve, so more can be accomplished.

After all, everything worthwhile you want to achieve is always outside your comfort zone, where the pressures of life are increased. It's easy to simply stay where it is comfortable. Working in your comfort zone is less stressful. But achieving real, long-term success requires that you push beyond what's comfortable and reach for the next rung on the ladder.

Your success (or failure) is predicated on what you as a leader are doing to strengthen your own ability to lead yourself and others well and to take your team on this same personal growth journey with you. The tensile strength of your team is only as strong as its weakest strand of cord.

So expose yourself, and your team, to an ongoing regimen of leadership and personal growth content. Through this process, the individual strands of your team are braided into a massive rope that can collectively withstand tremendous stresses and remain intact.

We are a resource to help you do that.

You and your team, like iron, have your own natural strength. Keep adding to what's strong, making it stronger in the process. Then you'll be able to see more, envision more, and achieve more, without fracturing or breaking.

The tensile strength of your team is only as strong as its weakest strand of cord. Don't let that person be you.

2X martial arts Hall of Fame inductee, John Terry (The Black Belt Leader) is passionate about helping others become Black Belt Leaders in Life. He is a motivational speaker, leadership, sales & communication coach, and trainer.   

Jessie Terry, John's daughter, is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and is actively involved in the JMT Global Youth Initiative. She is also a Real-Life Management trained coach and a certified Women-Safe Self-Defense Instructor.

For more information, schedule John (or Jessie) to speak to your organization or to book a personal, group or corporate coaching session, visit our website at  

If you are a faith-based organization, learn more about John and Jessie's outreach to churches, para-church organizations or faith-based volunteer groups by visiting

John is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and is passionate about helping others pursue excellence as they become "Leaders in Life". He is also a Master Coach & Trainer with Real Life Management, a human behavioral training organization helping people learn how to live "Real Life" and make better choices when it comes to relationships, money, health, and wellness. John is also a certified DISC Human Behavior Consultant.

John's newest book, Black Belt Leadership 101, released as a #1 New Release on Amazon Kindle in late March and has been on the Amazon Best Sellers List for over 2 months. Also available in paperback, this book highlights the 10 essential character traits necessary to live life as a Black Belt Leader in Life.

Why just be a leader, when you can be a Black Belt Leader?

This book includes a Discussion Guide for either your own personal growth and development or to facilitate a group discussion with your Team. Get your copy today.

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