Too often in our lives we jump right to the glossy brochure pictures of the finished deck, the degree hanging on the wall or the millionaire business owner who seems to have it all. In this, we miss the very fundamental actions that have transpired to ensure this success.
What about grit, the determination, the resilience and the building of a strong foundation? Here’s my two cents. The preparation is not fun, it’s not easy, it hardly ever goes exactly as planned and quite frankly the journey is not exciting at all. A deck builder who transforms a blank slate into a beautiful outdoor living space must first plan, permit, dig and pour the foundation to support the structure for many years. Sustainable leadership is no different. Let me prove it to you!
Plan – Show me an effective leader who doesn’t operate based on plans. This could be a sales or expense budget, a business plan, succession plan, key performance indicators, etc. A true leader not only develops plans, but also plans to develop other leaders.
Permit – Above all else, give yourself permission to succeed! Regardless of how you define success, controlling your own “automatic negative thoughts” will prove to be vital to your “go-live strategy”. For it is often within our own minds that we limit our own potential.
Dig – If you don’t think you’ll have to dig, you are sadly mistaken. Let me get this very important point out of the way! Digging feels like you are heading in the wrong direction. When you are supposed to be going up, you find yourself having to go down. Also, if you want to go higher, you must often in this stage go much deeper. The majority of people are okay with planning and even getting the permit, but when it comes time to dig, potential leaders fall out – never to be seen again. If you are in the digging stage, please remember that you are digging for a reason. Stick with it, this phase is difficult but essential.
Pour – After the digging is over, you must fill up the holes with perseverance, drive, passion and purpose. If not, life happens, and the holes that you spent countless hours, months and years digging, will soon be filled again with the same dirt you put to the side. As we all know, time does not stand still. It rains, it pours and if we are not systematic with the steps we take, we will find ourselves needing to repeat previous steps.
Have a plan and work the plan. The foundation of your success as a leader is just as important as the deck builder’s foundation to their cover-photo masterpiece. One glossy life-style picture of success appears nice, but what happens years later when the strong winds come. Be patient, slow down, do it right, get better each day, perfect your craft and respect the journey.