Daily dis­ci­pline drives suc­cess

Lesotho Times - - Jobs -

EARLY in my ca­reer, when I was a col­lege coach, I thought the so­lu­tion to my prob­lems was these two words: “if only.” If only I had more schol­ar­ship money, we’d win more. If only I had a bet­ter bud­get, we’d win more. If only I had bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties, we’d win more.

Those “if only” things were go­ing to solve ev­ery­thing for me. But, then . . . I got a big­ger bud­get and didn’t win more. I got more schol­ar­ship money and didn’t win more. I got nicer fa­cil­i­ties and, yep, you guessed it.

I wasn’t the only coach who thought that way. The “if only” trap is a com­mon one for coaches. We don’t like to take a long hard look in the mir­ror for fear of not lik­ing what we see. It’s eas­ier to chalk up our losses to some­thing ex­ter­nal that we don’t yet pos­sess.

Think­ing that that “one thing will change ev­ery­thing” is also a fa­mil­iar trap for en­trepreneurs. I see it with clients who think that one more staff mem­ber, one ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist who will fund their dreams, one video that will go vi­ral or one big client re­fer­ral will make all the dif­fer­ence.

Yet it’s never one thing, never some magic bullet, that will help you win more. Suc­cess lies in your daily dis­ci­pline. Con­sider this old Zen Bud­dhist phrase, “Be­fore en­light­en­ment, chop wood, carry wa­ter. Af­ter en­light­en­ment, chop wood, carry wa­ter.”

The mes­sage is that con­sis­tent ex­e­cu­tion of fun­da­men­tals over time is the key to suc­cess. In an­cient times you chopped wood to make fire and car­ried wa­ter for drink­ing; and if you didn’t, you wouldn’t sur­vive, never mind thrive. What are the high-value fun­da­men­tals you your­self must ex­e­cute daily to en­sure pros­per­ity?

The media tries to fool us into be­liev­ing there are overnight suc­cesses: that Youtube sen­sa­tion whose one video goes vi­ral or the con­tes­tant on The Voice who gets her big break. In re­al­ity, those overnight suc­cesses were thou­sands of nights in the mak­ing. They each chopped a lot of wood and car­ried a lot of wa­ter.

En­light­en­ment (suc­cess) for the en­tre­pre­neur may in­deed start with “ar­riv­ing on the big­gest stage” in that per­son’s in­dus­try. Yet the other hid­den truth in that Bud­dhist quote is that af­ter en­light­en­ment, the only thing that will sus­tain it is pre­cisely what got you there to be­gin with: con­sis­tency in daily ef­forts.

I learned that les­son the hard way as a coach. In 2002 we had our best sea­son ever, ad­vanc­ing to the NCAA Fi­nal Four and fin­ish­ing the sea­son ranked num­ber three in the na­tion. I thought that sus­tain­ing suc­cess would be eas­ier than achiev­ing it. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I mis­tak­enly thought mo­men­tum would just keep us rolling. That didn’t hap­pen: In­stead, we went 4-9 and had one of our worst years ever. That’s what hap­pens when you stop chop­ping wood. When we recom­mit­ted our­selves to 20 re­cruit­ing con­tacts ev­ery day (think: sales prospect­ing), our for­tunes fi­nally started turn­ing around. That was our chop­ping wood and car­ry­ing wa­ter. What’s yours?

One thing doesn’t change any­thing: What drives your re­sults is show­ing up and putting in the work, day in and day out. The work and the ad­ver­sity are de­posits you are pay­ing, for suc­cess in the fu­ture. En­light­en­ment is not a des­ti­na­tion or end point on a map or busi­ness plan.

Your suc­cess is built brick by brick, day by day. Put in the hard work, do it ev­ery day and when you suc­ceed, wake up and do it again the day af­ter that.

Chop­ping wood and car­ry­ing wa­ter is about con­sis­tency of ef­fort. I’m what you call a grinder; I’ll win by grind­ing out sheer ef­fort and do­ing what other peo­ple won’t do. Why? Be­cause I know I’m not smart enough to get by on brains alone, and I’m not tal­ented enough to get by on tal­ent alone. Most peo­ple aren’t.

I’m ac­tu­ally thank­ful for that be­cause, through con­sis­tency of ef­fort, you cre­ate dis­ci­pline, and dis­ci­pline wins. Con­sider adopt­ing this ap­proach if you too are will­ing to “do.” Then you too will get re­sults that oth­ers don’t.

I’m able to earn the trust of clients through my ex­am­ple: For one, I pub­lish a col­umn ev­ery Wed­nes­day. Another “prom­ise” I keep is send­ing my news­let­ter to my sub­scribers’ in­boxes ev­ery Mon­day morn­ing, and en­sur­ing that my pod­cast airs ev­ery Thurs­day. These are prom­ises I make, not just to my clients and the au­di­ences I serve, but to my­self.

Why is that prom­ise im­por­tant? Be­cause trust in busi­ness these days is at an all-time low. What’s your ver­sion of chop­ping wood and car­ry­ing wa­ter that will en­gen­der greater trust in your busi­ness? Ex­am­ples from some of my clients in­clude:

Re­spond­ing to all emails the same day they come in.

Re­turn­ing all phone calls by the close of busi­ness that day

Wak­ing up and go­ing to bed at the same time

Ex­er­cis­ing daily dur­ing lunch hour

Walk­ing the sales floor ev­ery day at 2 p.m. and ask­ing how I can help each em­ployee

De­liv­er­ing con­sis­tently cre­ates a level of trust with peo­ple; and trust is the foun­da­tion upon which all healthy re­la­tion­ships are built. These are the small daily de­posits that yield a big re­turn down the road. I know that giv­ing one great speech won’t cause For­tune 500 com­pa­nies to beat down my door. And one ar­ti­cle on En­tre­pre­neur. com won’t max-out my book of coach­ing busi­ness.

In­stead, trust is about show­ing up ev­ery day and car­ry­ing the wa­ter. Fall in love with the daily work; stay con­sis­tent with your process for get­ting it done; and you’ll see the re­sults take care of them­selves. –– En­tre­pre­neur

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