In a March 2019 article on espn.com about the Los Angeles Lakers, there was this quote, “The Lakers are so infatuated with the glory of their brand that they forgot about the essence of their product.”
I love that quote. It’s so applicable to every business.
A brand is the value people think they receive when they buy a product or service.
There are a lot of things you can do to enhance your brand, but the best way is to always improve the quality of your product or service. Don’t get so caught up in your awards and honors and recognition that you forget to constantly improve your actual product and service.
To make popcorn you have to steadily heat kernels of corn over a period of time.
To turn an idea into a reality you have to steadily heat the idea through actions.
You get an idea to sail a boat. How do you warm the idea up?
- Watch a video of someone sailing.
- Read a book on sailing.
- Talk to people who have sailed.
- Go on someone else’s sailboat.
- Sign up to take sailing lessons.
- Sail with a guide next to you.
- Sail a boat.
Any idea that you have in your business can be steadily warmed up until it pops into reality.
Reading can help your career as much as constantly doing things. You are evaluated and rewarded on your performance and results, but reading can enhance your performance and results.
I encourage you to choose a topic that you want to get better at. This could be a desire to get better at how to do something, or it could be a desire to understand something better.
Then choose one good book in that category.
Then read that book cover to cover. Don’t give up on it just because you’re enduring a boring section. The discipline in reading the entire book is essential.
Right now I’m reading Grant by Ron Chernow. It’s 959 pages long. It seems endless. However, along the way (I’m on page 307) there have been many nuggets about leadership, performance, strategy, tactics, and decision-making that have made the read well worth it.
Select a book, and read it all the way to the end.
Jimmy Stewart had a beautiful statement: “The only goal I had throughout my career was to hone my craft.”
I love that. He was one of the most popular actors in the world, and his on-going goal was to hone his craft.
What is your craft? What do you do for a living? You get to define that.
And you get to hone what you do every day to make it better. The choices are completely yours.
George Washington. Abraham Lincoln.
One had massive wealth. He risked everything he owned over and over by riding his horse on the battlefield in order to lead his troops in the battle against the British. He declared war when he had a tiny army to battle the world’s military superpower.
One was extraordinarily poor and basically read his way to become a gifted writer and speaker. He stood firm to his beliefs even as the enemy quickly approached the White House. He declared war when the South had most of the senior military leadership and most of the ammunition.
I encourage you to read Washington: A Lifeby Ron Chernow and Lincoln’s Sword and Honor’s Voice by Douglas Wilson.
These were two very real men who intentionally stepped into doing and saying what they each felt was the right thing to do and say. The very real storms of violence waged around them, and they gambled everything they had to do what they thought was the right thing to do. They influenced the way other people thought so those people could make decisions that improved results in a sustainable way.
We could all learn a lot by studying closely these two very real leaders.
Every year has highlights. Special moments where you deliver a great performance, achieve a challenging objective, or receive some public or private recognition of your efforts. Those moments are really memorable.
Then there’s the other 95% of year.
Those are the mundane moments. The ordinary ones. The ones where you’re doing something you’ve done hundreds and maybe thousand of times before.
If you can make the mundane moments excellent by doing the best you can in each of those moments while learning how to do them better the next time, then you will have a real opportunity to break through and perform at higher and higher levels. 95% of your time can be filled with excellence if you can push yourself to lean into the ordinary moments and make them extra-ordinary.
Mistakes happen a lot. And sometimes our mistakes create very embarrassing situations. And sometimes they really damage our results greatly.
And that’s perfectly okay.
We are all humans. We all make mistakes. We do things without realizing what we’re doing, and sometimes those things we do turn out to be fairly awful and hurt people.
We can beat ourselves up over and over and over, or we can honestly admit to ourselves that it really was a mistake, apologize for it, learn how to improve our future behaviors, and move forward.
So what will it be?
Are you going to remain stuck in sorrow and self-loathing for the rest of your life, or are you going to say, “Here is what I learned from this experience, and I will keep that lesson in mind as I go forward”?