Have you noticed that everything we learn to do, we have to do it to learn it?
Q: What’s the difference between a little league baseball player and a World Series MVP (most valuable player)?
A: Time, practice, and the commitment to develop their talent.
What happened during those years between signing up for the first little league team and stepping onto the playing field in a world championship series is the incremental, almost imperceptible, transformation that took place over a lifetime.
Transformation is not a quantum leap. There are no shortcuts. However, you will see and feel the improvement as you progress. You will get better with each successive practice.
Exceptional performance in any endeavor takes transformative learning and skill building.
Learning to lead takes practice and discipline. The science and art of leadership takes time, practice, and commitment to make the transformation from novice to master.
The journey is much the same as any other high performer.
The problem I’ve noticed in my work is that many managers want world class leadership without the world class practice. It’s like me expecting to shoot par golf when I never step onto the practice range or take any lessons. Even when I play a lot of rounds, I consistently shoot between 88 and 95, which is not very good.
My point: mediocre to poor leader/managers who never take time to train and be coached remain mediocre to poor regardless of how many years of experience they have. Transformation requires time on the practice range.
To be high performing (INPowering) leaders, it takes imitating the behaviors that high performers have in common. Here are five:
- Passion for the game. Top performers love what they do. Consequently, they specialize in an endeavor and devote their energy and learning to being successful in that arena. You must want to take on a leadership role and have a passion for doing it well.
- Dreams of being a champion. This dream is closely connected to the love of the game. Champions pit themselves against the rigors of the sport. They understand the difference between beating an opponent and striving for personal excellence. There is a difference between being good enough to win and performing at your highest level. Leaders strive for personal excellence above egocentric one-upmanship.
- The discipline to do the mundane practice every day. Every athlete practices several hours a day. They practice the fundamentals over and over until muscle memory takes over. They do not let anything, or anyone, interfere with practice time. Why? So when it’s time to perform, they don’t have to think about how to do the skill, because they need to think about the context in which the skill is being used.
- The willingness to be coached. High performers seek others from whom they can learn and elevate their performance. The coach is the extra set of eyes to help the athlete make a connection about what they are doing and the results they are getting. They know that no matter how expert they are, a coach can help them improve.
- A relentless desire to be challenged and evaluated. Competition is a performer’s way of seeing how their practice has paid off. In sports, it’s comparing one’s performance against another practitioner of similar ability. Competition is not merely about beating the competition, but about learning how to improve your own skills in the process.
The INPowered meet every situation as a way to make themselves better. They evaluate both the successes and the failures in a pursuit of transformative improvement.