How many leaders do you know personally? How many great leaders have you had an opportunity to work with? While experiences certainly vary, I am willing to bet that your list is small, very small. One of my passions and unwavering beliefs is that EVERYTHING ties to LEADERSHIP in one way or another which is why this trend of a growing number of decision makers and managers (yet not true leaders) is troubling.
Having said that, it is important to do what we can to work towards improving our current state across all levels, organizational, local, state, national, global…we all need exceptional leaders who focus on people ahead of profit and self-interests.
Get things done, work on expanding your experience and help as many people as you can on your journey. Diversify your experience, don’t get stuck doing the same thing year after year…focus on growing, making progress and learning new things. Furthermore, be a team player, contribute, help others and don’t focus only on what’s in it for you.
During this process the most valuable component of your experience is diversity. You should always look for opportunities (both within your current organization and beyond) to get involved and contribute in areas that have been just outside your reach in past. This intentional progress towards immersing yourselves into new learning experiences will greatly impact your growth, progress and future options.
“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” – Robin Sharma
Excuses are cheap and everyone has at least a few they always go to. Some of those excuses are lack of time, resources, support, talent, money, connections, people…and the list goes on and on.
However, those of us who are honest with ourselves and that is something all of us should be, we quickly realize that our biggest competition is ourselves. We must own our responsibilities and our success (or lack of it) and decide that everything starts with us. It is up to each of us to do everything we need to do to ensure success, progress and positive and desired outcomes. It is on us to do the work, research, improvements, networking, make investments in time, effort, energy, focus and money in order to be successful. It is our responsibility to continue growing, learning, advancing and improving if we are to attain all those things and states we so “desperately” want.
Ask yourself, what have you done today and was it aligned with what you want to achieve. If it is not, why do you keep doing it?
One way or another, we all want to be compensated for the value we provide, for the work we put in. Whether this is a salary, a bonus, contract pay…your products and services should be valuable and therefore you should be paid for them. That’s simple enough.
However, money on its own shouldn’t be your only or major objective as that limits your potential, growth and ultimate sense of fulfillment, contribution and progress. When it comes to finding the ideal space to work in it comes down to four areas:
- QUALITY – do something you are GREAT at (above average at the very least)
- PASSION – do something you LOVE to do as it will require a lot of time & effort
- MARKET – do something people want to PAY for (it’s kind of important 😉 )
- VALUE – provide the most VALUE in your space (this is how to differentiate)
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
Spend your time, effort and energy at the intersection of those four areas and success is nearly guaranteed (a bit of luck always comes in handy as well 😉 ).
Time is elusive, it can’t be grouped, limited, can’t be controlled…it simply keeps on moving and ticking away whether we like it or not. What we do have control over is what we do with our time and how do we spend it. Audit your life to see if you are spending time on small insignificant things which don’t matter in the great scheme of life or are you more intentional and strategic towards achievement and attainment of your goals. Our goals will and do vary, they will change, evolve and grow, but the way we get to them will always be the same, by putting in the necessary work. Nothing will ever replace the hard work we all must put in to reach our goals. Talent, skills, connections…they will all play a part in easing the process, but the work is the only true constant which is non-negotiable and is here to stay.
Are you working hard enough towards what you want or have you though of another excuse today? Being honest with yourself (not anyone else) is a prerequisite for change.
Leaders must not only be honest, truthful and knowledgeable, but the very best of them are authentic and consistent as well. If you make a decision, stand behind it across all challenges (both internal and external) and communicate authentically across the enterprise. People you work with must know why you made the choices you have made and they need to know that your principles, integrity and leadership and consistent and non-negotiable.
Be who you are at all times, everyone else is already taken.
Our vantage points and perspectives differ and they matter when making decisions which is why it is important to do your best to understand as much of the environment as possible. Understand what and who influences decisions.
As you progress in your career, your priorities and responsibilities will change and so will your decisions. It is important to do your best in trying to understand how and why decisions are made and what has influence on the final outcomes. In my career, I’ve come across decisions I didn’t understand and didn’t agree with (some of them I STILL don’t understand or agree with), but it is important to differentiate between questioning everything (which is generally good) and simply refusing to accept a decision without any effort to understand the circumstances (which is not good).
“Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” – American proverb
Listen, learn, question everything, speak, advance, grow, contribute, yet be mindful that the same area might be seen differently based on vision, strategy and importance from different perspectives and vantage points.
Focus on present actions, not your future desires. Focus on your journey, not just on the outcome or destination. You must know what you want, what you truly want and why you are doing all of this. Why are you putting in your time, effort, energy, commitment…connect to your why first. This why has to be yours and you must own it. Don’t do stuff because someone else wants it, you must want it in order for it to make sense and for your drive to get you there.
On this journey, you need to be flexible yet committed to the outcome that matters to you. Each day, make progress and you will get there. No matter how large and ambitious your goals may be (by the way, dream BIG!) they can all be broken down into more manageable smaller increments which when put together will have you standing across the finish line. Furthermore, progress equals fulfillment, and it makes us feel alive, makes us move, and enjoy each day. With that in mind, focus on making progress each day, even if it is smaller than you wanted it to be, it’s still better than NOTHING, it is still better than where you were yesterday.
Keep moving forward!
Planning our future and our goals is something we all do across both our personal and professional lives. Planning is good, but it is utterly useless without accompanying action. Lack of commitment to continuously making progress is the single largest cause of why most of us don’t reach majority of our major goals and keep postponing them year after year (at times until it is too late to act on some of them).
Furthermore, the way most of us do this historically is via “to do” lists which rarely (if ever) work. When it comes to these lists, all we end up doing is carrying them around in our phones, tablets, computers, pockets, books…with little to no action on any of the major items. Instead try using your calendar and actually block off time to act on making progress towards your goals. Even if this progress is small initially it is still a step in the right direction. Think about it. Let’s say that you need to write a book and you begin with a page a day. A year later, you will have 365 pages and your book will be done for the most part. Small steps are OK as long as you keep taking them.
Pitching your project, product or service is a necessary step in entering a new market or a segment. It is a necessary skill in getting the word out, in attracting investors and in staying in business in general.
Furthermore, during your presentations you should be prepared for all the questions that might and will come your way. You must do your due diligence, your research on your markets, competitors, your products and services as well as on those you will be pitching to. You have to know it all and be prepared BEFORE you step up to that opportunity as that one event could have a significant impact on the overall success of your product, services, perhaps business as a whole. Do your homework, know your audience, it will make all the difference.