Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Did we get better today?

It’s a question I consider every single day. I know that previous success isn’t a very good indicator of future performance. The world is changing too fast. It’s my responsibility to lead us down the dark alleys to see what is on the other side.

In his book “Great by Choice,” Jim Collins says that people who have built successful companies are fueled in part by “productive paranoia.”

“10Xers remain productively paranoid in good times, recognizing that it’s what they do before the storm comes that matters most. Since it’s impossible to consistently predict specific disruptive events, they systematically build buffers and shock absorbers for dealing with unexpected events. They put in place their extra oxygen canisters long before they’re hit with a storm.

Everyone wants to create a breakthrough event. We covet that BIG 10x moment where everything changes. I’ve spent way too much time thinking about it myself.

In my experience and research that isn’t how success in business typically happens. Instead, moving from where you are to the next level (and doing it again!) is more about incremental progress, patience and dedication to the daily grind. Far better to fall in love with the process and simply focus on the next best move.

The decision to change happens in a moment. When that decision is supported by consistent, quality execution over a long period of time you get results.

There Are No Shortcuts

I received an email from an aspiring professional speaker this week with a series of questions. One stood out to me because it’s a question I get asked frequently:

How did you land your first ‘paid’ speaking engagements?

I answered honestly. In the beginning, I booked them one at a time. It required cold calls (hours every day), email pitches, meetings, networking, connections, referrals and all kinds of education and research into a completely new industry. I hired a coach to accelerate the reinvention of me. I joined a trade association. I practiced for hours and hours and hours. Not speaking. I practiced selling speeches. That is a very important distinction. I tested scripts. Audited calls and meetings. Fine-tuned our sales process. I hired the best sales professional I know, and we evolved our selling acumen together. Eventually, after more than five years of consistent, quality outbound sales activity, demand for our services exceeded supply. There wasn’t a silver bullet, and I don’t believe there will be one for the next iteration of our business. It’s daily, disciplined, quality sales and marketing effort.

Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle.

Sometimes the climb sucks. But I am reminded of a philosophy I learned earlier this year talking to Jesse Itzler, author of Living With a Seal: If It Doesn’t Suck, It’s Not Worth Doing. Jesse schooled me on the 40% rule — when our brain tells us we can’t go on, we’re really only 40% done. We have more in our reserve tank.

Stay in the learning lane. The best investment you can make is a daily investment in YOU. When it’s uncomfortable and you feel overwhelmed, recognize that is where growth happens. When you do improve, nobody can take that from you.

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