Inspired Leaders Have GRIT

On October 10, 2014 I was blessed to be a host for L2:Learn-Lead, the new annual leadership simulcast produced by the John Maxwell Company.  In the last post, I shared the opening keynote by John C. Maxwell to initiate this series.  Today, I want to share some of the thoughts from Linda Kaplan Thaler.

About Linda

Linda Kaplan ThalerLinda is the co-founder and head of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, a marketing and advertising firm.  She is definitely a leader within her industry; creative and innovative.  She knows how to get things done.  Among the many claims to fame she has is the creation of the Kodak Moment, the AFLAC Duck, and the Toys R Us Kid jingle.  She is also co-author of a few books, including The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness.

GRIT Creates Extraordinary

Linda spoke on GRIT: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary.  GRIT is an acronym for Guts, Resilience, Industriousness, and Tenacity.  Here are some of Linda’s thoughts from her talk:
  • 98% of highly successful people were considered average.
    • Walt Disney was fired from his first job for being “uncreative”
    • General Colin Powell was a C- student
    • Michael Jordan wasn’t good enough to make his high school varsity basketball team
    • What makes the difference is their GRIT.
[snaptweet]Anyone with perseverance and pluck can go from ordinary to extraordinary. -Linda Kaplan Thaler[/snaptweet]
  • If you are brave enough, stop dreaming and start doing!
[snaptweet]I never spent one minute dreaming about success. I worked for it. -Estee Lauder[/snaptweet]
  • Overprepare and outwork everyone else
  • We get easily distracted and need to refocus on where we are going.

Four Keys to Help Stay on Track

  1. SOLVE SMALL PROBLEMS – when you resolve the small problems that pop up regularly, it prepares you to solve the big problems.
  2. MAKE YOUR BED – Military recruits are taught early on how to make their bed first thing every morning and to make it neat and precise.  Part of the reason is discipline but a good deal of it is that you accomplished something immediately.  If you accomplish nothing else that day, you made your bed.
  3. FINISH WHAT YOU START – With busy schedules and competing priorities, it’s easy to jump from one thing to another and not really finish anything.  Successful people finish.
  4. FORGET WILLPOWER – No one has enough willpower to stay the course consistently simply based on their will.  Develop habits and create situations that take willpower out of the equation.
Next post will cover Tim Sanders thoughts from L2:Learn-Lead.

Action Items:

  1. How will you apply this to your life?
  2. What do you need to change?
  3. What should you share or teach to others?

Having It All Together … Right!

superkid has it all togetherYou can probably think back and remember someone who seemed to always have it together.  They were involved in everything and always seemed to excel at everything they did.  They never slowed down; they served on committees, organized events, raised 55 children and spent quality time with each of them, worked two full-time jobs, volunteered at the local shelter, raised money to fight some disease, wrote 100 books, and has the happiest spouse in the world.   They seem to have it all and have it all together.

In reality, there are parts of their lives that are neglected.  I exaggerated the description above intentionally because that’s what we often do when we think about those high achieving types.  We draw a picture of what we think someone is like and we enhance it.  We make them bigger than they are.  Then we compare ourselves to them, imaging that they have everything in life and it’s perfect while our lives are hollow shells full of meaningless events and a cesspool of problems.  It’s unfair!

Reality is Not Perfection

It’s also unreal.  The truth is that people who seem to have it together are not living perfect lives.  They may be accomplishing more than we are right now, but that’s not because they have it all together.  It’s not because they are necessarily more talented than we are; in fact, often they may be less talented.  And they have problems too, they just don’t share them around as much as some others do.

But what they really have that helps them succeed is an good understanding and effective application of the Law of Sacrifice.  You must give up to go up.  You have to let go of some things in order to have other better things.

That’s a scary prospect for many of us and perhaps even a little depressing.  When we think about sacrifice or giving up, we picture big things.  We can become a CEO but our family life is non-existent.  Again, it’s that penchant for exaggeration.  And it’s also good old resistance finding other reasons to keep us from making any changes.

Simplicity in Sacrifice

Sacrifice is actually pretty simple.  You actually look at giving up lesser things in order to get greater things.  You sacrifice a couple hours of television time every day in order to read a personal growth book.  You sacrifice a few free evenings each week to work on a master’s degree.  When you learn to sacrifice, what you are really doing is simply learning to

Say No to the Good So You Can Say Yes to the Best

My father excelled in the credit union business during his career.  He was President and CEO of several credit unions over the span of many years and also was a high demand consultant to credit unions nationwide for many years after that.  To get there, he had to spend long hours working, gave up evenings to earn a GED and then a degree.  Yet, he was never an absentee husband or father.  He coached Drum Corps and Little League.  He took us on trips.  He went to dance recitals for my sister.  He had to sacrifice to reach the level he achieved, but the sacrifices were to give up lesser things to get those greater things.  He did not give up one great thing to achieve another.

Yes, you have to sacrifice to get where you want to go.  But the good news is that the choice is yours.

Action Plan

  • What little things are you willing to give up to reach your goals?
  • What systems can you put into place to make sure you don’t give up the wrong things?

Don’t Tell Me What to Sacrifice

I have a problem.  It has always been with me, sometimes helping me and sometimes haunting me. I just don’t like having someone tell me I can’t have it or can’t do it.  For example, I have read a lot of blogs and columns about being an entrepreneur.  In a good deal of them, they paint a less than rosy picture.  They often talk about how you can’t have it all, something has to give.  Andrew Dumont even says you need to acknowledge that there is no such thing as work-life balance for an entrepreneur. Stories abound with businessmen (and women) about missed recitals, soccer matches, anniversaries, and other things.  So, forget all about work-life balance.

I don’t buy it.  No, I refuse to buy it.  The passion of many entrepreneurs is the same; they do something because people said they couldn’t do it.  That’s my attitude.  Tell me I can’t have balance and succeed? Watch me!

The Law of Sacrifice Always Applies

To be sure, there are things you (and I) will have to give up.  Some are daily things, such as extended television time, browsing the Internet, cocktail hour, and a good deal of free time.  That’s called the Law of Sacrifice and you cannot avoid it.  If you want to have any level of success, whether it is running a small business, moving up the corporate ladder, becoming a top sports athlete, or a celebrity; you will have to sacrifice things to get there.  As John Maxwell says

You have to give up to go up!

What sacrifices you make is the decision you must face and I recommend you face it early.  Being defiant or rebellious can be a wonderful thing and has helped many an entrepreneur move forward.  But the ones who last and build a legacy are the ones who know when to make smart decisions and when to ask for help.  And they know to give up things that are trivial or not as important to gain things that are important.

There are good kinds of sacrifice in this.  Often, leaders are required to make sacrifices to lead people effectively.  One of the biggest that a leader must make is putting others first.  Leaders must sacrifice the limelight and yield it to their team.  Entrepreneurs must sacrifice being right most of the time to be very wrong most of the time.  They must sacrifice their ego because they will fail again and again until little things happen and build and success is achieved.  Sacrifice can have very positive outcomes, when you make the right choices on what to sacrifice.

Start right away to devise your strategy for fulfilling the Law of Sacrifice, because one way or another you will have to obey the law.  Just make sure it’s your choice what you give up.

Giving Up for the Team

baseball - sacrifice to winWhen a baseball team is up to bat, the objective is to move a player around the bases to score.  With the way that the rules work, there are a variety of ways to move a runner to the next base. One of the ways is for the batter, at a critical point, to create a situation to get himself out to allow a runner to advance; for example hitting the ball deep to the outfield so a runner can tag and advance or bunting the ball so the only play is to first base and a runner can advance or score.  They call that a sacrifice and the reward for the player is that it doesn’t count against them in their batting average.  It’s been a legitimate play in baseball for over a hundred years.

Many of baseball’s greatest players made other sacrifices as well.  Especially during World War II, many of them enlisted in the military and spent time overseas serving our country.  Some died, some were injured, but many came back and resumed their careers.  Here’s some of the greatest players and how they served:

  • Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees“Joltin’ Joe” played Major League Baseball from 1936 to 1951 and is known as one of the most complete players in baseball; in other words, he had all the skills you would want a player to have.  But when the war came, DiMaggio willingly left baseball from 1943 – 1945 to serve US Air Force.  Upon his discharge, he resumed with the Yankees and had a stellar career.
  • Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians – Feller, a pitcher, played in the Major Leagues from 1936-1956.  The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and brought America into World War II.  On December 8, Bob Feller left baseball to enlist in the US Navy and gave up four years in baseball to serve.  As skilled and dominant a player he was, many wonder how much more Feller could have accomplished if he had stayed in baseball those four years.
  • Warren Spahn, Boston Braves – Spahn was also a pitcher and is the winning-est left-hander in history.  He played from 1942 to 1965, including the 1948 World Series where the Braves battle cry was “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain“.  During WWII, he served in the US Army, at one point suffering injury from shrapnel and received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. When the ware ended, Spahn went back to Braves (and eventually other teams) and continued to dominate batters, even winning the Cy Young award for the top pitcher.
  • Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox – Williams was arguably the greatest hitter in baseball and played from 1939-1960, leaving for a while to join the US Navy and then the Marines, serving from 1942-1946, and recalled in 1952.  Like Bob Feller, many wonder what more Williams could have accomplished had he stayed in baseball during that time.

These men saw something greater than themselves and greater than baseball and chose to serve when it was necessary.  Certainly there were those who thought they should have stayed in, that they were more valuable in baseball.  But they didn’t see it that way.

Sacrifice to Serve

Flag - many sacrifice all for our countryOver the years, many men and women have felt the same way.  My nephew Cody is currently serving overseas.  I have many friends who also have served or are serving.  They all know there is something greater than themselves, greater than anything they might accomplish during this time.  They are giving up careers, family, and much more to serve this country.  In some cases, they are sacrificing all of this for the benefit of people in other countries.  While some may question that, they do not.  They serve, for a greater good.

Like in baseball, they sacrifice themselves in order to help others move ahead.

Thank you to all Veterans for the service and sacrifice you have made.

Action Plan

  • Make it a point to say “Thank you for your service” to any Veterans you encounter day and every day.