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Daily Leadership Thought #165 – That Little Something Extra…


You ever notice how very successful people and organizations always have that little something extra?   Instead of simply running with the crowd or doing just what is expected, they strive to be different, better, and try just a bit harder than their competition.   I’ve long believed that success is incremental rather than something that happens all at once.  It’s the little things that take place every day that make the difference.  It’s the habits/attitudes formed through a lifetime of regular practice that “move the needle” forward.

After years of working with a large number of leaders from multiple disciplines and fields, I’ve come to the following conclusions about top performers:

  • They set very high standards for themselves and abhor mediocrity
  • They are committed to their own professional development and learning
  • They always do what they say they will do
  • They are rarely if ever unprepared for important meetings
  • They never ask others to do something, they wouldn’t do themselves
  • They deplore distractions and are able to prioritize and focus on what’s most important
  • They take calculated well thought out risks
  • They don’t always have all the right answers but they are committed to asking the right questions
  • They take real pride in how they treat their customers and employees
  • They have never been, nor will ever be, “clock watchers”
  • They take failure personally and almost never repeat mistakes
  • They show up every day and give it their best effort even (especially) when this is hard

One would think that all of the effort required to live up to the above listed points would look difficult, but it doesn’t.  Paradoxically these people make success look easy.   It’s not rocket science.  Just like the dancer who works hard every day to perfect their craft and then performs flawlessly on stage or the golfer who regularly practices all the tough shots then makes them under competitive pressure, they’ve trained themselves to excel.

Of course there are examples of people who simply get lucky and seem to almost stumble into success.  Some individuals do win the lottery.   However, the odds of being one of the lucky few are very slim, almost infinitesimal.  Hope is not a strategy.  It’s the little things you do each and every day that build the habits that lead to true success and accomplishment.

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One Response

  1. Thank you so much for sharing ‘that little something extra’ as I would like to call a Golden Nugget. I consider myself a ‘silent leader’. I define a silent leader as someone who does not have an official title as manager/leader, but has the potential with the right training/mentorship to move into a leadership role. I use hope and creative optimism for tools to guide me when I work in teams. I believe the ‘worker-bees’ have the most leverage to infuse change within an organization because they are on the front lines working with clients. The list that you have constructed from top performers is spot-on. Half of these things on the list, I strive to meet them. I have learned that the little things such as a smile, kind words, and having a positive attitude when tackling challenging projects are all small things that can make for a successful leader and workplace. Again, thanks for the mention and I look forward to reading your Daily Leadership Thoughts.

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