Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why do we fall?

"Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."-Bruce Wayne's Father in Batman Begins

I was fortunate today to have a conversation with a friend of mine who competes in the grand daddy of all triathlons the IRON MAN.  The IRON MAN is a grueling race where each competitor swims 2.4 miles (3.9 km), a 112 mile (180 km) bike and 26.2 mile (42.2 km) marathon run.

The Ironman Triathlon, or The Ironman Triathlon World Championships, is both the original triathlon and the annual world championships of the event, held annually since 1978 in Hawai'i. It was made famous by its grueling length, harsh race conditions, and television coverage.

This is my friend's dream to compete in the World Championship.   Why would anyone do this? For many reasons.  Some simple reasons, some complex.  To raise your kids with a picture of the type of Father who knows how to work hard and chase dreams, to inspire others, because someone once told you it was impossible and I had to find out, to an addiction, or simply to stay in shape.  And a million others.

But, I think the most compelling reason is because you want to learn.  How do you know if something is impossible for you until you try it?  Think about it logically, how much do you really know about yourself until you try and fail.  Until you try and succeed.  Until you try and see what inspiration may come of it.  The point is you don't learn anything until you are willing to try and run the risk of failure.

When you were a kid, how many times did you fall before you learned to ride your bike?  How many times did you babble before you learned to talk?  How many times did you fall before you learned to walk?  To ride a skateboard?  To pass a test?  Give a speech?  You get what I'm saying, right?

You fall because you learn to pick yourself up.  And in that moment when you learn to fight, to endure, to never give up, to pick yourself up and try again is the moment inspiration is born- the moment Victory is experienced- the moment you become someone who is changing the world, or your sport, or your family.

This is why stories like that of Lance Armstrong are so amazing and inspiring. 
But why is it that the older we get the more we do everything we can to avoid failure?  We used failure to learn everything we know up until then, and all of sudden we don't want to ever be in a spot where we can fall.  We avoid falling at all costs.

But, may we always remember that Victory can only be experienced when there is a possibility of defeat.  May you and I be World Changers, next time someone tells you something is impossible may we have the courage to try it and find out.  Because sometimes falling is the only way to learn, the only way to inspire, and the only way to taste the sweetest victories.  

And in my experience - impossible is nothing- trying is everything- because trying is learning. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish, but you have to try and never- never- give up to find out.  

The person saying it can't be done is often surpassed by the person doing it.  Which one will you be?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Leaders Grow Leaders

"You've got to have great athletes to win,  I don't care who the coach is.  You can't win without good athletes but you can lose with them.  This is where coaching makes the difference." - Lou Holtz

The longer I work with great leaders the easier it is to spot them.  You know who great leaders are because they are surrounded by great subordinates.  

When you walk into a business, a team, an organization of any kind and see highly motivated well operating systems and people you know a great leader or leaders is near.

Being a leader means more than just having authority it means having influence, the power to motivate, the power to build high performance teams.  Great leaders pick influence over authority any day.  They understand that the person who brings the most clarity and emotion to the challenge becomes the leader, and at that moment who has the position of authority means very little.  Great leaders have always know how to rally people to their cause, to invoke and spread excitement, emotion, and passion to others.

Great leaders:
  • Attract great people
  • Recruit great people
  • And build great people
When you are looking to be a part of a new job, new organization, new relationship of any kind.  Test the climate of the group.  Are you surrounded by high performance people or does it feel more like the "dysfunction junction."

Excitement is probably the most transferable human emotion on the planet.  It is hard to be in the presence of someone who is excited and not feel it or react to it in some way.  Great leaders transfer emotion and passion to others.

A mentor of mind once told me before I was about to speak to a large crowd that if I wanted to transfer excitement and emotion than I would have to feel it 10 times greater than I wanted them to get it.  In other words if I want the audience to "bleed"  I would have to "hemorrhage."

Do you "hemorrhage" an excitement that motivates?  Inspires?  Attracts? Recruits? Builds high performing people in your life, family, or business?  Do people pick up what you are laying down in your sales job?  Do people feel your passion for life?

If not.  Then I encourage you to look into at least one of these 2 areas:
  1. Do you have something, anything, that one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning?  I mean really gets you jazzed? If not, then find something that does and learn to make money at it.
  2. If yes, then let it out!  Express it!  Be you!  Do you feel shy about expressing a new idea- your products- your business- life in general because others don't share your joy yet?  Well...thats the point.  That is why you have to help them feel it.  That is why you are in a position to lead. Everyone doesn't "get it" yet, that is exactly why the world needs you to help them.
Great leaders reach out to optimize not only their own skills but the skills of all they run into.  Spot great leaders by the team they develop- become a great leader by being contagious with your passions.

-Jon Bohm