Monday, April 28, 2008

Enduring Greatness

Jim Collins is still one of my favorite authors. He has this die hard, never say quit, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, attitude about success. In his latest article for Fortune Magazine “The Secret of Enduring Greatness”, he again states his case for greatness. ….The best corporate leaders never point out the window to blame external conditions; they look in the mirror and say, "We are responsible for our results!"….

We ARE responsible for our results. Whether those results are for individual behavior or corporate performance, we are responsible. One common denominator of those who never achieve their potential it is lack of personal responsibility, the belief that others have more control over our personal performance than we ourselves do. I could point to countless examples of this in society. In almost every case there is a price to be paid. In the end the price is far greater than the original cost of just taking responsibility and making something happen.

In the face of uncertainty, punt. Uncertainty creates stress. Stress hurts. So we hide from the source of that stress by assuring ourselves that there is nothing more we could have done. It’s just not our fault. If only this had happened or that had happened it would have all turned out differently. If only the government had adopted this policy or that policy it would have turned out differently. If our employees had performed better, if our customers weren’t so demanding, if the competition had been honest, it would have turned out differently. There is a never ending supply of excuses.

It was once said it is not how many times you are knocked down, it is how many times you get back up. Life was never meant to be a smooth road. We get stronger through adversity. Without adversity we would never know triumph. How would we ever relate to those in need if we ourselves had never experienced it? Here is a simple way to overcome adversity and accelerate your success:

  1. Define the problem in front of you in the greatest detail possible
  2. Write down every potential outcome from the situation as you see it today
  3. Decide what one outcome is the worst possible scenario.
  4. Develop a plan to mitigate the impact of this scenario.

Once you define the problem in detail you will find that it isn’t as bad as you imagine. Our imaginations always paint things worse than they are. This alone will reduce the stress level by eliminating some uncertainty. By choosing the worst possible scenario you face the worst possible outcome. I think you will find that it isn’t as bad as you thought. Finally attacking this scenario with a plan to minimize its impact on your life will put you in a position to win. Remember this is the worst possible scenario. Everything else is peanuts compared to this.

Having a plan and working your plan is the only way to take responsibility for what happens to you. The environment changes, plans change, results vary. The goal is to have the final result better than the results you would have gotten doing nothing.

“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”
Brian Tracy

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