Would you agree any significant accomplishment or achievement happens with continual effort and hard work? Major achievements don’t just happen, do they?
Those you would consider to be exceptionally talented leaders didn’t get that way without continual effort. Think of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Jack Welch or Alan Mulally. Reading biographies of people like these indicate they worked hard at becoming the leader they became. They never coasted uphill in their leadership development.
Becoming the best leader you can be is akin to building a strong and successful business – it requires building every day. Strong leaders and healthy businesses don’t become that way based on intentions alone. This daily focus is the result of good, strong habits. Healthy habits push you up while unhealthy habits drag you down.
Great leadership happens when you are consistently walking uphill, intentionally implementing productive habits. Poor leadership happens when you are sliding downhill and your thinking is creating unproductive habits, such as procrastination, developing excuses and blaming others.
This can be summarized as follows:
Downhill Thinking leads to Downhill Habits leads to Poor Results
Uphill Habits lead to Uphill Thinking leads to Successful Results
Let’s take some examples –
- Negative thinking allows fear, anxiety and stress to take priority in how you spend your time. This leads to unproductive and unhealthy habits such as missing deadlines, being distracted, allowing others to set your priorities and an overall lack of action. Changing your thinking to positive thinking involves thinking of possibilities, taking action on opportunities that present themselves. Possibility thinkers always believe there is at least one answer to any problem they face.
- Negative thinking is looking for immediate gratification. This leads to habits of a lack of persistence and perseverance because you want to be instantly gratified. Moment by moment negative thinkers wonder how long something will take to complete rather than focusing on going as far as they can go. Positive thinking involves delaying gratification which creates the productive habit of consistently taking action to get the best results possible. Growth oriented people realize they never stop growing, and they wonder where this can take them, not how long it will take to get there.
- Negative thinking leads to one saying they are not responsible for the results. This leads to the creation of a myriad of excuses as to why they haven’t delivered the results, usually followed by a list of other people or circumstances they like to blame. Positive thinking on the other hand leads to you take full responsibility for your results. This results in no excuses, no blaming, just action to get closer to the desired results. Until your beliefs are action oriented, the beliefs are worthless. Nothing happens until you act on what’s going to happen.
So, what are the implications? When was the last time you examined your results? If you are not satisfied with those results, the place to begin to improve the results is to look at your thinking and your habits – are you a possibility thinker or an excuse maker? Do you always believe there is an answer, or do you seek to try the same things over and over expecting a different result?
Success happens uphill. And it doesn’t happen alone. The most successful leaders have an inner circle of people who they rely on to think with them; they are possibility thinkers, people who can share ideas, people who don’t settle for the status quo.
Remember this – average people in your inner circle want you to remain average. They want you to be the same miserable people they are; or at least not be someone who calls on them to improve or makes them look bad. The average people are the ones who tell you to take it easy because you won’t succeed. Take a look at their track record of success and chances are slim they have ever approached being successful at much of anything.
Can you change your thinking? You absolutely can if you have the desire for different and better results. Need some help or a place to start? Let me know – I can be of assistance. No one ever won the race by coasting uphill!
PS, much of the content of this message has been taken from a lesson I heard John Maxwell teach a few weeks ago.