The magic recipe for success…

“It’s not the X’s and the O’s, but the Jimmys and the Joes that make the difference.”

Unknown

This quote has been used in college football for years.  Finding the original author proved to be impossible.  It has been attributed to Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson and many others.  Leaders who knew that no matter how brilliant their plays might look on the chalkboard, if they didn’t have the right talent on the field to execute it, the plays wouldn’t work.

I have been blessed in life to work for teams and players that could perform exceptionally well in almost any business.  Frankly, they could be successful at any plan, product or initiative.  Having an opportunity to serve alongside players like this is incredibly motivating and humbling.  They elevate the game of everyone around them.  But it is more than just pure energy and commitment.  The magic happens when the players fit the game plan AND the plan is the right one for the game being played.

Winning takes combining both great plays and great players.  You have to have the right talent in the right place.  You can’t ask a 6’4″, 220 pound wide receiver who runs a 4.35/40 to be your left tackle and expect to win.  Nor can you ask your 6’5″ 312 pound offensive tackle to go run a post route down the field and expect him to beat the coverage.

As Jim Collins wrote in “Good to Great” (still one of my favorite books of all time).  “First who, then what.”  You have to have the right people.  The bottom line is that if you don’t have the right talent you can’t win.  Period.  The joy of working with exceptional people is almost indescribable.  Their will to win, their effort and intensity, their sheer energy that is exuded all the time.  With the right people you know that almost any game plan can work.  With the wrong people, no matter how great the plan, it is doomed to failure or mediocrity at very best.  Sustainable greatness comes from marrying the right talent to the right plan and then executing relentlessly.  

So here’s the question.  Do you have the magic mix of the right talent, in the right place, at the right time to win?

 

 

Why limit yourself?

“If you don’t have the information you need to make wise choices, find someone who does.”

Lori Hil

“Why” is the most powerful word in the English language.  Well, I guess that is a fairly broad statement, but I will certainly make the statement that “why” is the most important word in English as it regards to leadership.  What on earth does that have to do with today’s quote?  Glad you asked. 

Far too often we bog down and spend so much of our time talking about “what” we are going to do without understanding “why” something has happened.  Digging deeply into the why, and getting input and perspective from others, is critical to making good decisions in life and leadership.  To seek information, to make good choices, to lead, one must understand whatever situation or challenge is in front of you.  To be able to do this you either must have all the information yourself, or you have to go out and get it.  If you don’t have all the information, and who ever really does, you have to be willing to admit that fact and actively seek to gain it from others. 

So why don’t people do this more often?  Why is this such a challenge in life and leadership?  Asking for input and perspective from others takes self-awareness.  It takes humility.  It means understanding that you don’t have all the information, you don’t have all the answers, you don’t have all the knowledge.  Asking “why” takes courage and a willingness to learn without having a bias towards your own self-beliefs.  In today’s world admitting that you don’t know something is challenging for many people and leaders.  Of course the flip side side far worse, if you don’t seek perspective then you are stuck with whatever you have been able to learn on your own.  The more we rely on what we already know, the less likely we are to make wise choices.  Find someone who knows more than you do, and ask lots of questions.  Why limit yourself to only what you already know?

What are you afraid of?

“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”

Patrick Lencioni

Merriam-Webster defines “invulnerable” as “impossible to harm, damage or defeat.”  We are taught at a young age that we have to be tough, that we have to win, that showing any vulnerability is a sign of weakness and frailty.  So we carry that defensive nature into our lives and relationships, both at work and at home.  Instead of accepting that we are all vulnerable we seek to be invulnerable with those around us.  

Perhaps this is changing?  The usage of the word “vulnerable” has certainly become more prevalent over the past few decades. Not bad for a word that has it’s root origination in the Latin noun “vulnus” meaning “wound.”  (Finally all my college Latin courses are paying off!!)

 

vulnerable

Usage of “vulnerable”

 

But lets contrast “invulnerability” with “trust” which is defined as “allow someone to have, use, or look after (someone or something of importance or value) with confidence.” 

How do you know when you trust someone?  What does it feel like? For me it is the feeling of safety.  That it is okay if I’m not perfect and it is safe to expose my vulnerabilities for the purpose of achieving a greater good.  When I trust my teammates I am confident that they care, first and foremost, about achieving our shared goals and purpose.

Hmm, now that I think about it maybe “invulnerability” isn’t such a bad thing.  If a team has a high degree of trust with each other I think they just might be a team that is “impossible to harm, damage or defeat…”  

 

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