You see this all over our site, throughout our facility, and infused into all of our programs. What do we mean by this?
When Jeff Beck was asked on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show what it felt like to be the world’s greatest guitarist, he responded first that “you’d have to ask Phil Keagy,” but then went on to say:
“Every time I look at my guitar when it sits idle I get intimidated by it … because of all the things I still have to learn.” – Jeff Beck
It might sound surprising that such a person would say such a thing. But we at TREADSTONE have come to realize that nobody has “arrived,” and the people who operate as if they have are short-changing themselves, and the people in their orbit, because they have ceased to reach higher than where they are.
We have observed that most people who are considered Great in history regularly experience failure and setback; and the autobiographies of such people almost universally reveals a pattern of self doubt that at times sounds as if should reach crippling levels. But the 100% universally common denominator in the lives of such people is Perseverance. Without going into too much detail here on “open source,” we at TREADSTONE have had ample opportunity to experience what this is all about.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ― Calvin Coolidge
More often than not, the single most important quality that leads to success is merely the ability to keep moving forward. It is that singular resolution to simply turn your strongest shoulder towards the objective, lean in hard against the wind, and just put one more foot in front of the other. Sometimes this will produce fast, dramatic results, but more often the progress we can expect is simply an accumulation of steady, dogged, incremental forward motion. Just as nickels add up to dollars when saved over time, so too goes the accumulation of success. Your criteria for that success may not necessarily be related to money. This approach works as well for the leadership of a Fortune 10 company as it does for Special Forces unit, a winning sports team, or even a group of school children who Strive for academic excellence.
Leadership requires trust, which starts with the leaders. That takes Courage because the leaders have to start the trust cycle before it has been earned.
Trust requires everyone knowing that when they are not on watch then someone else will be. It means knowing that your fellow team members will sacrifice for each other. That does not even require that everyone LIKES each other. It’s about the environment, and that is created by the leaders. It is why the military has a better chance of having good leaders who can achieve a mission … because that culture starts with the willingness to sacrifice for others. – Inspired by the new book “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek
Leadership is about serving those in your charge. True leadership that can draw the best from people is not over-bearing or autocratic. Even in the military, the great commanders are those who are loved by their troops. Fear is not as productive a motivator as is a “Band of Brothers.”
We put “Strive. Serve. Lead.” in that order because that is the order of operation. Leadership does not come from a title. The title will only take a leader so far if (s)he lacks a Striving ethic or the desire to Serve the Team.
Having said that, the most important aspect of accomplishment is the willingness to execute and implement. All the preparation in the world is useless without the initiative to put ideas and plans into action. The rule of thumb that elite units like the US Army Rangers use is known as the “1/3-2/3 Rule.” It means that over the millennia that military leaders have spent painstakingly analyzing campaign and battle success, they have found that it is most productive to spend 1/3 of the unit’s time planning; and 2/3 executing. Neglect either, and you are likely to limit your success.
In business, there will always be others who have your idea – and who may even have more resources than you do. But the willingness to get moving is often more important than any of those things – even before the preparation is perfect. Perfectionism in fact is most often a paralyzer, as it can never actually be achieved in an imperfect world full of imperfect people. Bruce called this “Paralysis by Analysis.” A better approach could well be described as “Continually Improve Your Position.” Go forward with what you have available, but then constantly train, fortify, resupply, and build up your base.
“Good things may come to those who wait, but they are only the things that are left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln