Success is not random, the result of luck or afforded to those who "wing it". If we use a skyscraper as a metaphor to illustrate how to build a successful career or business, we will realize that to achieve success we must integrate a strong foundation with a structurally sound framework. Together this forms the basis that supports the weight of success as well as the stress of our journey on the road to success.
When we look at the tallest buildings around the world we only see a superficial expression of an architect's design, a facade, an aesthetic form. The real strength is hidden below the surface, the foundation. It must support the enormous weight of every component that creates a building, including its most precious item, the people. Additionally the foundation must insure that it maintains its integrity and stability even when the ground beneath shifts and moves.
For a business leader their foundation is one's strength of character, the unwavering commitment to honesty, moral virtue, and true compassion for those we lead and serve. Real success cannot be supported by an individual who creates a weak foundation through corrupt behavior, contempt for other's success, or a lack of integrity. To survive in today's competitive business environment it is imperative that our character be the anchor that supports the weight of success and maintains stability when markets and the business climate shift and change.
Upon the foundation we must construct our success story with an integrated framework. Referring to our building metaphor, the framework is where all structural components are connected. Everything that makes the building a practical and useable object is attached to its framework, from each floor to the inner workings to the outer skin. The Winner's Framework is an integrated structure that is dependent on each component to provide the stability to support the entire effort. There is no least important part of the framework and all share equally in helping you to succeed.
The Winner's Framework
1. Want to win
Wanting to win is a subject I covered last issue but is so vitally important that I will highlight why it is necessary part of the Winner's Framework. Wanting to win means having the courage to embrace risk for the sake of it's reward, opportunity. Wanting to win also motives us to act like a winner, which means doing rather than theorizing, visualizing and seeing yourself winning, and preparing to win. And most importantly, wanting to win is a positive attitude that is infectious and is emulated by those we lead and interact with on a daily basis.
2. Have a plan
Entrepreneurs who believe that success can be achieved through their cleverness or instincts are playing a fool's game. Even the concept of embracing risk does not mean being unprepared and shooting from the hip. Great accomplishments do not happen by chance or through the result of random activities. They happen because there was a plan and all parties committed to its execution.
Make it a simple plan; Go for clarity, not certainty
A business plan should provide an easily understood outline for what you need to accomplish and how you do it. A simple plan is better than a complicated one because simplicity allows you to pivot when conditions change. Moreover, it needs to provide clarity, not certainty; there are too many circumstances beyond your control, and you want the plan to guide you, not limit you. At a minimum, a worthy business plan provides a framework to keep you moving forward and focused on your objectives.
If there is one critical component of the Winner's Framework, it's execution. Or, as I like to put it: Words are theory. Action is reality. It is either a business leader's strength or her Achilles' heel to transform the desire to win into action. In other words, to move all the planning and preparing into doing. Those who can make something happen at least have an opportunity to succeed, while inaction shatters any hope of success. Many great ideas and excellent business plans languish simply because the planner didn't make something happen.
The toughest challenge for a business leader is to sustain momentum. Simply launching and initially executing your plan doesn't guarantee success; it only puts you in a position to win. You still must execute every day to ultimately succeed. The truth is, execution is not a one-time event. It is a continuous activity and a state of mind.
Lost momentum is the result of an impediment to your forward motion. It could be from stress, mental fatigue, lost focus, negativity, and even too much success. All of these can contribute to a slowing down of your momentum. Enthusiasm has a way of dissipating once you encounter some rough situations or the journey to success has become harder than you anticipated.
Momentum is a by-product of execution. When you focus on constantly making something happen, without being distracted or losing focus, the forward motion continues. The fundamentals for a business leader are always based on embracing risk so opportunities are fully exploited, even if it means passing on one opportunity to maximize a better one.
4. Evaluate and repeat
In the simplest terms, ask, "What is the score?" Are you meeting your expectations? Are you winning? Is there an opportunity to improve? In sports, it's pretty easy to know how things are going: If you are ahead of your opponent, then things appear to be going well. If you are behind, then there is room for improvement
The only way to know if you are succeeding is by evaluating the results, and the evaluation process is critical to knowing if you are on the right path. Part of the evaluation process is making adjustments to maintain progress. If your plan is based on simplicity and clarity then it has the latitude for making changes. When you know "the score" then you will also know that changes to your plan are necessary.
And once we have found a successful strategy and the tactics are providing the expected results, we keep going. It is a tragedy when a great plan with enthusiastic execution suddenly is altered because a business leader realized they were winning and thought it was time to protect the lead. Wanting to win means always playing to win. When our strategy reverses it's core principle of winning to playing not to lose forward momentum ceases and deterioration begins.
A firm foundation combined with a strong framework gives us the opportunity to reach incredible heights. By embarking on a journey for success, you must commit to playing to win. The ruthless nature of competition prevents any of us from having an alternative mindset. I designed this Winner's Framework as a guide not only to help you build success but also to provide you with strength through confidence to take the journey: the confidence to execute your plan, to objectively evaluate its progress, and to embrace the essential risks of deciding and changing when adjustments are called for.
A desire to be successful cannot be fulfilled by a random undisciplined effort. We all need guidelines within which to operate. Guidelines are not barriers, however.
Next, we will we face down those dangerous situations in which we become trapped by a false reality and prisoners of hope.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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