team development

Which Pain Do You Choose?

The bottom line job of a leader is to make decisions.  Depending on the circumstances around which a person is leading, these decisions can be a matter of life and death.  Think military or other high stakes jobs like logging (rated number one of the top ten deadliest jobs in a Forbes article in 2013).


I’d argue that making decisions quickly and absolutely is the most important skill of a leader.  Notice I did not say making “right” decisions.  I said making decisions.  Leaders make questionable decisions all the time.  What sets great leaders apart is they own and empower their decisions….and the consequences thereof.


A Brief Tale of Two Brothers


Two brothers were on a sailboat on the ocean.  Both were competent seaman.  During the night, they took four hour shifts at the helm so each had a chance to sleep.  


One night while out at sea the brother who was asleep awakened at the sound of a loud foghorn.  He knew they weren’t close to land.  So the only other option of where this sound could have come from was another vessel.  And it had to be very close judging by the volume of the scream of the horn.


He rushed to the deck and saw that he and his brother’s boat was on course to crash into a container ship head on.  Yelling to his brother, he said, “Hard left!  Hard left!”


The brother seemed to be frozen and staring at the container ship like a deer in the headlights.  He yelled again, “Hard left!  Hard left!”  No movement whatsoever.


At this point there was only one thing to do.  He rushed over to his brother, pushed him out of the way, grabbed the helm and made a hard left.  This leader saved the day.  And in this case that meant saving he and his brother’s lives.  


This leader is my good friend Bill so I know it’s a true story, not an anecdote to make my point.  Bill is in his seventies and has owned/operated, bought, sold or grown eight different companies in his career.  The biggest one did over $300 Million in revenue per year.  


Bill knows what it takes to lead in business and in life.  He’s a practiced risk taker and decision maker.  That’s what got him to hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue.  Nothing else.  Bill has no college degree and was called stupid while growing up as he failed the fourth and ninth grades.  


Obviously Bill is not stupid.  He grew up with a learning disability during a time when they had no idea what that even meant.  The point is Bill learned the skills he needed to thrive.  The ability to take risks, make decisions, and be responsible for the consequences.  If he can do it, so can you.


What Gets in the Way of Making Decisions?


Leaders are action takers.  They don’t wait around for the right decision because they know they’ll be waiting a long time.  They don’t wait to feel comfortable because they know they’ll be waiting a long time.  They don’t wait for the fear to go away because…..


There’s no such thing as the right decision.  There’s only what works and what doesn’t work.  Leaders know this even if solely on a subconscious level.  


What gets in the way of making decisions is the need to be right, comfortable and sure.  Bill’s brother wasn’t sure what to do so he did nothing.  


What if he turned the helm too hard and capsized the boat?  What if he chose to turn and couldn’t do it fast enough and they hit the container ship?  What if he made the wrong decision and Bill got mad at him because he screwed up the boat?


Yup.  Any of these scenarios could’ve occurred and they all could’ve been painful.  What do you do if you’re faced with a decision that will result in something painful either way?  Well, you still have to choose.


Which Pain Will You Choose?


I got off the phone with Nick, a client of mine, shortly before writing this article.  The conversation we had inspired me to write this.  Nick’s a leader.  Always has been, always will be.  He and his wife own and operate a financial services practice near Dallas, TX.


Nick’s been crushing it lately due largely to his very successful marketing.  In the recent months he’s grown the business to where it earns a comfortable living for his family.  He wants to grow and knows it will likely take his investing diversifying his marketing efforts.


This week NIck has been presented with an opportunity to host a radio show as another tactic to add to his strategic marketing plan.  It’s something he’s had a goal of doing in the near future.


You guessed it.  Nick needs to make a decision, and fast, or else he’ll lose the opportunity to a competitor.  Not a life and death decision, but it’s certainly high stakes.  


Here’s the deal.  This is going to cost him $78,000 and a year of his life.  He’s run the numbers and adding the radio show to his marketing plan will grow his business to a whole new level.  IF….it actually works.  


There’s pain on either side of the fence.  If Nick chooses to go with the radio show, it’s going to cost a significant amount of money, he’ll likely have to hire several new people, and learn how to operate inside of a new set of circumstances.  A more stressful cash flow scenario, the headaches of hiring, training and working with new employees, and the risk of not acquiring enough clients to make it worth the investment.  


Conversely if Nick opts to not go with the radio show, he’s going to have to deal with the consequences of waiting until later to do it.  He’ll be wondering how it would’ve went had he chose to do it.  What if it worked?  What if he can’t get the same opportunity next year?  


Nick needs to make this decision by Tuesday, and no matter what he chooses, it’s going to be painful.  The clock is ticking and he’s taking action by calling his team of advisors and supporters to help him through the process.  Ultimately he knows he’s the only one qualified to actually choose.


It was so much fun talking to him about it.  It was like watching a good thriller.  I could feel the adrenaline rush as if it were me in his shoes.  I’ve been there many times.  And I’ve made decisions that worked and those that didn’t.  


Now you get to choose.  Who will you be and what will you do when faced with tough decisions?  Will you be and do whatever it takes?  Will you wait for someone else to choose for you?  You’ll see.  And so will those around you.

Acquired Greatness - A Lesson From Michael Jordan

There are two types of people in the world.  Those who are satisfied with the status quo, and those who consistently aspire to improve.  Neither is right or wrong.  It just is.  


Some might say the latter should be grateful for who they are and what they have.  The reality is that most of them are.  They simply want to reach higher levels of accomplishment for the fun of it.  For the love of the game.  


Most of the people aspiring to improve do so in one, or a couple areas of their lives.  Then there‘s a smaller pool of people seeking excellence in all aspects of life.  


I’m saying all of these things to distinguish a particular way of being in people that leads to high levels of accomplishment.  Not to alienate or look down on people who are satisfied with average levels of accomplishment.  


Like I said, neither is right or wrong.  It’s important to know who you are and own it 100%.


These people who play the game of excellence in one or multiple areas of life have learned how to tap into their greatness.  If you know me at all you know I believe every person has greatness within.  Every single person.


We all have it.  Only some of us ever access it.  A smaller percentage of us learn how to access it at will.  An even smaller percentage learn how to maximize it.


With that being said, I invite you to ask yourself right now if you have any desire to access your greatness.  Listen closely to your own desires.  The answer is in there.


Does your gut tell you there’s something more out there for you?  Something bigger?  Something that seems impossible, but for some reason it’s calling you?  Or are you good where you are?  Either is fine.


If there’s any inkling of your being calling you toward excellence in any area of your life, I implore you to read on and go for it with all you’ve got.  You have what it takes already.  


You have greatness within you.  What’s next for you is all about learning how to access and maximize it.  That’s how greatness is acquired.  


NOTE: better buckle up because it’s a bumpy ride.


Greatness is Not for the Faint of Heart


Everyone loves an overnight success.  It’s too bad they actually don’t exist.  That’s right.  There’s no such thing as an overnight success.  


Every noteworthy successful person went through the gauntlet in order to get there.  And I assert they’re still going through it right now.  They’re willingly and purposely putting themselves against the odds on a daily basis.


They set goals and they accomplish them.  Then they immediately set a new goal.  That’s who they are.  It’s not about the destination.  It’s about being a person who’s committed to excellence.  


It’s not about winning a game.  It’s about winning the game.  The ultimate game.  The game of life.  And it’s not just about winning the game.  It’s about crushing it...and then coming back for more.


If you ever watched Michael Jordan win a championship game, you may have noticed him throw his hand up with the number of championship wins he’d accumulated plus one.  The plus one was for next year’s championship game.  


I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. -Michael Jordan


Jordan learned how to access his greatness at will and maximize it.  This is it.  This is what greatness personified looks like.  


You may be thinking you’re not Michael Jordan so this is impossible for you.  Only if you say so.  Consider the following.


You have to be willing to miss more shots than anyone else.  You have to be willing to lose more games than anyone else.  You have to be willing to miss the game winning shot more than anyone else.


You need to be willing to lose in order to win.  You need to be willing to be heartbroken in order to have what you love.  You need to be willing to be weak in order to be strong.


All of this sounds like you need to be willing to die in order to live.  Maybe.  Would you still choose greatness?  I know some people who would.  You do too.  


This is what it looks like to acquire greatness.  Not some phenomenon out North Carolina.  Jordan may have been very talented, but his greatness was maximized by his willingness to be and do whatever it takes.  I assure you.


Michael Jordan’s Secret Sauce


Ready?  Here’s the secret to acquiring greatness.  Practice.  Anticlimactic, I know.


Anyone who wants to become great at anything just needs to practice.  But it’s a certain kind of practice.  


It’s rigorous, hard, consistent, and it’s expensive in more ways than one.  You’ll certainly have to spend a considerable amount of time, energy, and money.


This kind of practice takes a strong mind, body, and desire to win.  And rest assured greatness in each of these areas can be acquired too.  


If you think you’re not good at something, you can get better with practice.  Or you can get better at finding and inspiring someone else to do things you’re not good at for you.  Whatever it takes to acquire greatness.


This kind of practice can be scary.  A lot of people start and then quit.  But some people have found a way to keep going regardless of how much it hurts or what they stand to lose.


You can find a way too, guaranteed.  Because everyone has greatness within.  Everyone.  Go be great.  The world needs more greatness.