It’s quote time again as we start the month of September….
From Calvin Coolidge:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. There is nothing more common than unsuccessful people with talent
A successful person is one who puts in 100% physical, mental, and emotional effort.
From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
Consider the those two quotes in the light of these three qualities:
Belief – In the vision of something that is worth the current sacrifice
Diligence – The ability to continue in a chosen path, regardless of the challenges or difficulties
Patience – The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
There appears to be a trend that would put the above quotes or definitions in question.
A shorter and easier path to success is constantly being sought after. Let me be very clear that I am fully in favor of efficiencies and better and quicker thinking. One of my favorite fields of study and application is thought innovation (sources such as innovatorsdna.com and ideo.com are some of my preferred sites), and how it can propel leadership to new levels.
However, I have observed that efficiencies and better and quicker thinking generally occur when a person has the 30,000 foot view of a situation and that type of maturity and insight does not happen without thorough preparation.
While many are not sports fans, that arena does lend itself to a demonstration of elite levels of performance. Another quote from one of the greats from the world of basketball, Michael Jordan:
“Basketball’s like anything else: it mostly comes down to doing all of the basic stuff right. Once you’ve got the fundamentals down, you’ve got a solid foundation to build on….When you get away from fundamentals… the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, your job… whatever you’re doing.”
I subscribe to the website MasterClass and was listening to current basketball great Steph Curry explain basketball basics. He told the same story – master the basics and the world opens up. But there is only one way to master those, and that is by a zealous approach to focused study and practice.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers is a superb testament to what he defines as the 10,000 hour rule, which states that expert or dominant status comes only after that many hours of repetition and practice. While there are those that disagree with that number, the point to take away is that there are no shortcuts.
So what does all this have to do with leadership? Two important levels and very intertwined:
- Leading from the front – set the example of constantly reviewing, learning, and improving. The minute you start to think you have ‘arrived’ due to a promotion or a new title, and, thus, do not have to continue that relentless pursuit, then you have started to backslide. You don’t want to do that! Demonstrate your conviction to those three principles of belief, diligence, and patience.
- Being open with your team – there is a strong tendency to not want to rock the boat with any comments that could be too blunt or strong. You truly are not leading well when you see a person taking shortcuts and let them think it will not catch up with them. You owe it to them, through example and through direct teaching, to lead them toward those values that have never let people down. Try to think of one outstanding person in your life who took shortcuts toward her or his level of performance. This may seem archaic and old-fashioned…perhaps it is. However, I have yet to see in research or in history, an exception to these principles that has stood the test of time or performance….Something to think about.