How You Begin Determines How You End.


Today's LEADERSHIP SUCCESS STRATEGY.
A Dose of Reality About Excellence For
People In Charge, And Those Who Aspire To Be.

(Feel free to forward this to co-workers, friends and family.)  Issue 0316

From Rick Houcek

In the movie "Cinderella Man", Russell Crowe plays an aging boxer making a dramatic comeback.

It's the Great Depression and Crowe's character, Jimmy Braddock, once a mighty champion, has lost his way.

Well into his comeback, a reporter asks Braddock (I'm paraphrasing, I may not have the quotes dead-on):  "You've lost before.  What's the difference this time?"

Braddock says, "I know what I'm fighting for."

"What's that?" asks the reporter.

And what follows is what I consider the most memorable and inspiring line in the whole movie ...

"Milk."

That said it all.  He was fighting to feed his kids.

It gave him the strength to look defeat straight in the eye and say, "Okay, one more round."

He was able to overcome failure because he had the energy and passion to achieve his goal of putting milk on the table.

Several years ago, I heard an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, before he became California governor, and the reporter asked (again paraphrasing):  You've been a world champion body builder.  You've had a successful movie career as an action hero.  You're a partner in a chain of restaurants.  How is it you've been able to sustain your achievements and continue to succeed over and over again?

Schwarzenegger's reply came in the form of a story.

When he was a kid growing up in Austria, he said, his family couldn't afford a refrigerator.  So they kept their food on the back step and let the frigid Austrian winters do the rest. 

He told himself that when he grew up, he would work his tail off so he could buy a refrigerator.  And he promised to never forget being without one.

"You've got to stay hungry," he said, looking the reporter in the eye.  "That's how I've been able to sustain my success.  Always being hungry."

When Mike Krzyzewski coached the 2008 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team, he talked about how he started his early team practice sessions (quoted in USA Today):  "I wanted them to envision the gold medal game on August 24th, envision being on the gold medal stand and the national anthem being played."

He even played the national anthem during practice.  Marvin Gaye's classic soulful rendition.  "Instead of having a fight song, that was our song."

They won gold.

See a pattern?

Braddock.  Schwarzenegger.  Krzyzewski.

Three who achieved success.  Three who ended with victory.  Three who started their quest, essentially, the same way.

With an all-consuming, passionate mission.  And total clarity -- at the outset -- about what it was.

Braddock wanted to feed his kids.  He knew it before his first pre-fight workout on the speed bag.

Schwarzenegger wanted prosperity.  He knew it before setting sail across the Atlantic to America.

Krzyzewski wanted a team gold medal.  He knew it before he blew the first whistle in practice.

LESSONS & ACTIONS FOR YOU:

This kind of clarity isn't new.

Not to repetitive winners.

Nor high-achieving leaders.

Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Roger Staubach said it best:  "Spectacular performance is always preceded by spectacular preparation."

Part of that spectacular preparation is knowing what you're fighting FOR.  Having your end-result goal clearly articulated in advance.  And known to all. 

What about you?

Do you know, in no uncertain terms, what you're fighting for?  And do you have such passion for it that you rocket-launch out of bed in the morning because you can't wait to get started?

I know somebody who does.

This past week, I lead an offsite strategic planning retreat with the leadership team of the #1 anti-terrorism company in the country.  Most are former military from all branches, many with 20+ years of service.

As one team member told me before the retreat:  "Protecting our country isn't a job to us.  It's a religion.  It's the highest calling."

For me, it's an honor beyond measure to work with this noble group.  They, and all soldiers in uniform, current and past, allow you and me and all Americans, to raise our families, run our businesses, and enjoy our lives, with relatively little concern about a terrorist attack on our soil.

And ...

They are another shining example of why having a clear, compelling, and passionate purpose -- before you start -- creates a pathway to success.

          Let's keep it simple.  Here are three thoughts for you...

  1. Why not get crystal clear on your passionate life mission.  Your over-arching purpose.  Your reason for being.  Commit it to writing.  Read it every morning upon arising.  And every night before lights out.  Hand-write it and tape it to your bathroom mirror.  The overhead visor in your car.  Put it on your screen saver.  Inside your checkbook cover.  Anywhere you'll repetitively see it throughout the day.
  2. Re-design your daily to-do list.  Instead of just a one-column list of tasks, why not make it two columns.  The first column:  the task itself.  The second column:  the grand mission it supports.  In other words, force yourself to articulate the over-arching purpose to be accomplished by each action step.  If you can't come up with one, ask yourself why you're even doing it.  Punch the nuke button.
  3. Help all your direct reports do the same thing with their to-do lists.

Results:  You'll be clearer.  They'll be clearer.  You'll all have eliminated some "no longer fits" items from your lists.

And cumulatively, your organization will be on-point to a greater degree.

Yes, how you begin determines, in large measure, how you end.  No, it doesn't guarantee a favorable outcome, but it dramatically tilts the odds in your favor.

Leaders who enjoy repetitive success know this.  And follow its magic every day.

Shouldn't you?

Helping Ambitious Forward-Thinkers Soar To Success...

Rick Houcek, President
Soar With Eagles, Inc.







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