Yesterday, I began a two-part blog series in which I unpacked the six skills I believe students must master before they finish school. The first three are:
- Know Yourself.
- Develop Your Gift.
- Find Your Passion.
Today, allow me to start a conversation on three others:
4. Value People
Along the way, you must discover that people aren’t a means to an end—they are the end. Adding value to people and valuing them over projects, promotions, and even products is a sign of maturity. As a teen, you valued popularity. In your twenties, the temptation was to value pleasure. In your thirties, it is often about production and success. Eventually, though, you must amend what you are targeting, from success to significance. Those who shoot for success add value to themselves, while those who desire significance add value to others.
“It is only in developing others that we truly succeed.” (Harvey Firestone)
John Maxwell taught me my success in developing others will depend on my:
- High Value of People (Attitude)
- High Commitment to People (Time)
- High Integrity with People (Character)
- High Standard for People (Goals)
- High Influence over People (Leadership)
5. Learn Perseverance
Go deep into your study of people, and you’ll discover that ineffective ones suffer from a disease of the mind. Let’s call this disease “Excusitus.” Unfortunately, almost every failure has this disease in its advanced form, and most “average” persons have at least a mild case of it. You will discover that “Excusitus” explains the difference between the person who is going places and the one who is barely holding his own. You will find that the more successful the individual, the less inclined he or she is to make excuses. They are resilient and find the drive within themselves to forge ahead.
But the ones who’ve gone nowhere are generally marked differently: they can’t delay gratification; they have short attention spans; they compare themselves with others too much; and they quit when things get tough. These people become satisfied with mediocre and are quick to explain why they can’t, why they don’t, and why they aren’t. Study the lives of effective people and you’ll discover this: all the excuses made by the mediocre person could be but aren’t made by the successful one.
My observations about what persevering people do:
- They find the benefit and the lesson from every failure.
- They don’t confuse failure in a project with failure in life.
- They recognize that failure is a natural part of a successful life.
- They get over themselves. They know everyone else has.
- They know that growth is not an event—it is a process.
6. Pursue Excellence
Excellence is what good leaders introduce to others. Most people don’t perform with excellence on their own. In fact, the average employee often does just enough to get by on the job. They require someone else to “raise the standard” for them.
Ironically, it takes so little to rise above mediocrity and be excellent. In baseball, for instance, a player who gets up to bat 600 times a season and gets 200 hits will be an all-star. A player who comes to bat 600 times a season and gets 165 hits is mediocre. The difference in salary may be in the millions! The mediocre player just needed 35 more hits to excel! An Olympic runner can finish one-half second behind the winner and received no medal at all. Excellence is about giving a little extra. The difference excellence makes is stunning. Think about it. If 99.9% were good enough, then…
- 2 million documents would be lost by the IRS this year
- 22,000 checks would be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next hour.
- 880,000 credit cards would have wrong information on them.
- 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions would go out in the next year.
- 12 babies would be given to the wrong parents each day.
So, are you settling for “good enough” or excellence? We use a phrase at our Growing Leaders office: Shoot for perfection. Settle for excellence.
So, when you consider your leadership…
Which of these skills do you embody most naturally? Where do you struggle?
Which of these six skills are you building in your students?