A thought recently occurred to me as we’re approaching one of the biggest sporting events of the year (the Super bowl): What makes winning teams so successful? There must be some method or characteristic that helps teams make it through to such a prestigious event and I think I’ve found what it is: execution.
People can plan and prepare for any occasion, but if they can’t “come up with the win”, so to speak, their concepts will never get off the ground and they will never seal the deal. Employers will not just trust you to deliver to clients if you can’t deliver to them. Clients will not offer you another chance and they will not give you the deal because you are attractive or have a nice smile or look like a good kid. Clients will give the job to the person who has a complete, streamline, successful package on the table. People want to “see-do”. This means they see it and love it and immediately say “do it”. Package it, promote it, it’s good just the way it is. They don’t want to sell something that is still in development or being ironed out.
You will often hear people say that there are a million people who would want your job. Also, that there are younger people who will do it cheaper than you. If this is correct, you must be on top of your game to continue to remain competitive in your field. This is not to say you should be reacting out of fear, but instead ACTING out of motivation to remain relevant and competitive, striving to excel in all aspects of your life.
Another important key is to remember is that people WANT you to succeed. It is in everyone’s best interest if you succeed instead of failing. Failure takes time to replace and effort to change. Success is a smooth-flowing, positive force that is contagious and everyone wants to be a part of it.
Just as clients want you to succeed, I know that all of you want to succeed as well. Everyone wants to do better. Everyone wants better pay, a bigger house, a better life and yet only a few achieve ultimate success (a staggering 1% in our industry). Is it because they’re smarter? Not necessarily. Is it because they have had more experience? Not necessarily. Execution is one of the main differences between their success and failure. Be prepared for your day and tackle your issues before they tackle you. If you find that you are always on the defensive and trying to fix things after they have been brought to light, you know you are being reactionary and inefficient. Often times, we work on things as we are forced to deal with them. Not having the foresight to see potential problems or short comings takes time on the backend to fix. This is something that is forgivable early on or on occasion, but no one wants to see these patterns long-term because it is inconvenient and inefficient.
Take a proactive approach. Have a plan so that you are not always stuck going back to fix things after the fact. Anticipate potential problems and disarm or fix them before they can create a bigger problem. One of the main differences between a well-seasoned veteran of the trade and a rookie is the ability to anticipate potential kinks and smoothly and seamlessly handle them. Most people hate mistakes or are scared of making them. I love them! But turn your mistakes into a life-lesson from which you can learn and grow. There is a very important life quote by Sun Tzu that I implement and have found hugely motivating: “Plan for what is difficult when it’s easy, do what is great while it’s small. The most difficult things in the world are done when they are easy, the greatest things in the word are done when they are still small.” Don’t wait for someone else to unearth a mistake — take responsibility and handle the problem while it is still manageable. Do not waste your time making excuses, but instead, remember that you are ultimately accountable and treat your mistakes and problems as such. The buck stops with you. However, do not be afraid to ask for help — no one in business has ever made it without a little help.
The bottom line is, people can talk a good game, but it is very difficult to follow through with the kind of success we all want to achieve. It is important to utilize everyone’s strengths and to work at an optimum pace to stay ahead of the game. One of the most frustrating things is people who come into work at 9am, do the work that they are supposed to do, and then leave at 5pm, mid-task, because the day is done. I have a post-it on my computer that says “Don’t stop”. What this means to me is do not become complacent. Do not just do the work that gets you by, but continue pushing forward and maintaining a higher level of productivity. Your momentum will not go unnoticed and you will be lending to your own success. But success comes at some initial cost. You cannot just turn your mind off and clock in and clock out and that is it. Innovation, forward thinking, ownership and execution all take time and the honing of skills. Be willing to push yourself and do not be afraid of failure.
Most importantly, no one wants to hit the peak of success and then be on the other side of a declining mountain. We all want to achieve and maintain ultimate success. If you can continue executing your work in the most efficient way, you will be successful. The happiness and fulfillment you experience from that success will motivate you to continue to be successful. The cycle of success is infectious.
To close with the football analogy, remember that we are all only as strong as our weakest link. Just as you would not be healthy if your mind, body and soul were not in sync, you cannot run a successful team without every system working correctly and everyone pulling their own weight. There are no extra positions on a football team. Everyone on the field brings their own, unique skill-set, which is what they were hired for, and everyone is needed and utilized. Otherwise, the team will never achieve success. We are a team. You were hired for unique and exciting skills that others may be lacking. Implement them. Assist others. Utilize all of your assets and do not slack in your daily tasks.
There is not one, single characteristic or attribute that immediately and completely translates into success in all areas of life. If that were the case, everyone would be successful because the recipe would be simple. However, by acknowledging, implementing, focusing on, and EXECUTING all of the skill-sets I mentioned above, as well as some I will get into in the future, I believe we all have the chance and opportunity to live successful lives. The best thing I can offer is my knowledge and experience and I hope that, as well as all the skills and gifts you have, will help our pursuit of success.
Remember, execution is key. Let all us find and pursue that which brings us passion, joy and ultimate success.