Extraordinary business leaders sacrifice, daily, to do what needs to be done I remember hearing many, many stories about “self-made men,” and the time and energy they put into making their organization. They talk about things like, “blood, sweat and tears,” and “decimating the competition” and that sort of thing. Some mention luck or “the alignment of the stars,” and on and on. Building an extraordinary business requires some concrete activities that we, as business leaders, must commit to every day. The Bible talks about “dying daily,” which means that every day, you’ve got to commit to reaching that new standard, no matter how yesterday went. How do you do this? Here are some traits they shared:
- They had clear focus and belief. They new where they were going and believed that they could accomplish it. Sometimes the focus was on the intangible and the belief in the unimaginable. Nonetheless, they remained on target and accomplished the impossible.
- They had an unwavering drive toward a specific goal. They believed in Star Wars’ Yoda’s comment to young Luke Skywalker during his Jedi training, “There is no try. Do or do not.” They looked at life and business in terms of survival – if they did not wake up running and running toward the “home base,” they would be quickly consumed.
- They have heart. Kris Cavanaugh, in her book, “Stuck to CEO” opens with the quote from Vincent van Gogh, “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found those dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” Extraordinary business women and men go at it day in ad day out, despite incredible odds. We as business owners get up every day to face impossible odds with humanity itself fighting to destroy us. We know it. Tomorrow, we’ll do it, again.
- They know how to share their vision. “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” said ancient Israeli King Solomon. As business owners, we need to teach people to march to the beat of our drum. However, people, by their very nature need to know, “why?” and “where are we going?” We will only follow a leader for a short time, without a cause. Then we are simply drifting together.
- They learned from their mistakes. “The man who makes no mistakes usually does not make anything at all” – William Connor Magee. “What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down,” Mary Pickford.
- The continued to grow. Oprah Winfrey started out as a radio personality. Over the stretch of her career, she has continued to pursue new ventures, using her now great influence to influence public opinion at times. Once you stop growing, you begin to die.
- They failed, got back up again and did it again. President Lincoln was known for the number of business, personal and political failures he endured before coming one of the greatest leaders the world has known.
- They used plateaus as stepping stones. The US space program always said that getting to the moon was the first step in space exploration.