Authors: Robin Sharma
A simple idea to move to your next level: To earn more you must learn more. The compensation you receive from your employer will be determined by the value you add. The more you know, the more valuable you become. To earn more, learn more. Out-read your competition. Out-study them. Out-improve them. Out-succeed them.
I remember when I was a lawyer, just starting my professional career. I asked the top lawyer at the firm what I needed to do to ensure a sustained career there. I’ve never forgotten his reply: “Robin, be so knowledgeable, competent and brilliant at what you do that this firm can’t run without you. Become indispensable.” Spectacular advice. Awareness precedes choice which precedes results. As you learn what the best do, you will develop new awareness. With better awareness, you will make better choices. And with better choices, you are certain to see better results. Investing in learning and getting your skills to world class is the smartest investment you’ll ever make. Master your craft and you’ll get to greatness.
Please don’t tell me you are too busy to spend at least 60 minutes a day learning. Some of the busiest people I know read or listen to CDs or do online training for at least an hour a day.
A lot of people are too busy being busy. Shift from being busy to getting results. At robinsharma.com, you will find a rich source of resources to help you become a lifelong learner, including my blog, free podcasts, a listing of my favorite books, and a wealth of other knowledge tools to speed you to your best.
Investing in learning and getting your skill to world class is the smartest investment you’ll ever make.
So take the first step today. Rather than watching TV tonight, make the time to read. Learn what the superstars in your profession do to stay on top. Learn how to create greater wellness in your life. Learn how to master your time. Learn how to live your highest life.
The sad fact is that so many people look for the worst in others. They see them through the eyes of their own anger, fear and limitation. If someone shows up late for a meeting, they impute a negative intent to that person, saying, “They are so rude.” If someone makes a mistake on an expense report, they grumble, “That person is so dishonest.” If someone miscommunicates a point, they silently say, “She’s a liar.” Real leaders are different. They look for the best in people. Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, said it so well: “The most important job you have is growing your people, giving them a chance to reach their dreams.”
I want to be clear. I’m not suggesting that leaders avoid reality. Not at all. They make the hard calls when they need to. I’ve mentioned in an earlier chapter that the best don’t worry about being liked—they just do what their conscience tells them is right. What I’m really saying is that the best leaders see through the eyes of understanding. If someone is late, they try to get to the truth. Maybe there’s a time management problem to coach around or a sick child to help. An error on an expense
account could be the result of a poor process in place or the employee’s disorganization. The miscommunication might be all about the person communicating having weak skills in this area—an opportunity for improvement.
Today, rather than looking for the worst in people, I encourage you to look for what’s best within them. Sure some people really are inconsiderate or dishonest or uncaring. But in my experience—and I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years—most people are good. Few human beings wake up in the morning and ask themselves: “What can I do today to mess up someone else’s day or undermine my credibility or ruin our business?” Most of the mistakes people make are the result of a lack of awareness. Most people just don’t know better—so stop taking it so personally.
Few human beings wake up in the morning and ask themselves: “What can I do today to mess up someone else’s day or undermine my credibility or ruin our business?”
And here’s the payoff for you: As you seek out the good in people, not only will they want to show up more fully for you, but you will see more good in your world.
Every great business has a clearly articulated business model and strategic plan. That’s all about the design and focus of the business. But so few people have taken the time to design their own lives. If you don’t know where you are going, then how will you know when you get there? And how can you hit a target you can’t even see?
In the hotel industry, there’s a name for all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes that guests don’t see. All the things that need to unfold in accounting, in housekeeping, in the kitchen and in the laundry that are mission-critical yet not public. All those activities are called “the heart of the house.” When “the heart of the house” is in superb order and operating with near-flawless execution, the same will hold true for the external guest experience.
Do you have a “business model” for your life? Do you have a strategic plan for your dreams?
Here’s the big idea for you: To get to your best life, I suggest you ensure the heart of your house is nice and tidy. Do you have a “business model” for your life? Do you have a strategic plan for your dreams? Have you recorded your most closely cherished values and your life’s most important priorities on a piece of paper, which you then review every morning to keep you locked onto what’s most important? These are all aspects of “the heart of the house,” your internal operations process that will direct and govern your external results.
Sure it takes time to do this inner work. And sure we all have a ton of urgent things we need to do right now. But there’s no point in being busy if you’re busy doing the wrong things.
I dropped my son off at school the other day and was amused by what he did when he walked into his classroom. He passed one of his buddies and said: “Why so glum, chum?” His friend, who had been looking very serious, looked up. Both kids broke into laughter. Got me smiling. Then it got me thinking.
Greatness in business as well as in life comes by being an inspirational human being. We need to uplift people by our attitude and our very presence. When we see someone feeling down or experiencing a struggle or doubting their potential or in need of a kind word, it’s our duty to help them, perhaps by asking, “Why so glum, chum?”
The best way to lead and elevate another human being—whether that means a co-worker or a family member or a friend— is to model the behavior you wish to see. The best way to influence others is to lead by example. You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your words. Talk really is cheap. Extraordinary human beings live their message. They walk their talk. And above all else, they are inspirational. Are you?
One of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received was from a woman who came up to me after a keynote speech I gave to 2000 fitness professionals for a great organization called Can-Fit-Pro. “Robin, I loved your presentation,” she said, full of emotion. I asked why. “I’m not really sure. I guess you just inspired me to be a better human being.” What would the organizations we work for and the communities we live in and the planet we walk on look like if each and every one of us did our part to be inspirational leaders each day—encouraging them to be better human beings? We can curse the darkness or we can light a candle. And our world needs more light. Shine. Today.
Greatness in business as well as in life comes by being an
inspirational human being.
I’m up earlier than usual as I write this chapter. Listened to some beautiful music that is part chillout and part Indian. I wrote in my journal a bit. Wrote about how much I love my children. Wrote about where my life’s at. Wrote about where I want to take it. And I wrote about my hunger to have an impact. Leadership—as a human being—is about having an impact. Making a difference. Leaving things better than you found them.
When I met Shimon Peres, I asked him what he believed the purpose of life to be. He replied without hesitation: “To find a cause that’s larger than yourself and then to give your life to it.” What would this world of ours look like if each of us had found our cause or life’s purpose and were then passionately pursuing it? There would be less hatred, fewer wars and more love. And we’d be united as one race. As Coretta Scott King said: “When you are willing to make sacrifices for a great cause, you will never be alone.”
Apple CEO Steve Jobs used to tell his people that by showing up at their best they would have the opportunity to “make a dent in the universe.” Jobs definitely gets it. Sure it’s important to make a profit in business. Sure you want your enterprise to be operationally excellent. Sure you want high-quality products
and services. And sure you need to keep innovating and growing your brand. But isn’t having an impact in the world—by helping your clients and positively influencing others—what business is ultimately about?
Isn’t having an impact in the world—by helping your clients and positively influencing others—what business
is ultimately about?
So a gentle question from a man who wishes only the best for you: “What dent will you make today?” What cause will you pursue? What contribution will you make—at work, at home—in life?
Many executives come up to me after presentations and ask me about my statement “Everyone needs to be a leader.” As I’ve suggested, in my leadership seminars, I always make the point that for a company to get to greatness, every person on the team needs to see himself or herself as a leader. The best companies on the planet grow leaders and develop leadership potential throughout the organization faster than their competition. Making that happen is their number-one focus. And they do it quickly. I said that earlier, but it’s worth repeating.
Everyone is a leader.
But not everyone is the same.
But I’m not saying everyone should run the company. That makes no sense. Everyone is a leader but not everyone does the same thing. Here’s a metaphor to drive the distinction home for you. I love U2. Bono is the lead singer. Larry Mullen Jr. is the drummer. Chaos would ensue if Larry tried to be the lead singer and Bono got confused and started playing the drums.
Or imagine if the tour manager thought he could be Bono for a night and walked on stage to do so while Bono was in his dressing room. Not good.
Know your role. Everyone needs to behave like a leader—no matter what they do. Everyone needs to demonstrate leadership traits—regardless of their position. That means everyone needs to take responsibility for getting the results that they generate. Everyone needs to do their part to shape culture. Everyone needs to be positive and inspirational. Everyone needs to keep customers happy and protect the brand. Everyone is a leader. But not everyone is the same.
I know what you’re thinking: “Robin, give me a topic that’s fresh and original and challenging. Why are you writing about goals? We know this stuff. It’s boring!” Few success practices are as important as articulating your most closely held goals and then reviewing them daily. Getting masterful at setting and then considering your goals on a consistent basis is essential to a life of greatness. And yet, guess what? Most people don’t spend more than an hour a year doing this. It’s true: People spend more time planning their summer vacations than they do designing their lives.
In my mind, there are six big reasons for you to set goals: Focus, Growth, Intentionality, Measurement, Alignment and Inspiration.
Where your focus goes your energy flows. I feel so very blessed to be the success coach to some genuine superstars in the field of business. Billionaires, celebrity entrepreneurs, captains of industry. One of their primary traits of greatness is their focus. They know their “vital few,” in other words, the key goals they need to achieve to get to the extraordinary. And then they focus like crazy on them. Goals breed focus. Simple but powerful idea.
Goal-setting promotes personal growth. The real value of reaching a goal lies not in the result achieved but in what the journey you’ve walked to get to the goal has made of you as a person.
It’s easy to live life by accident and sleepwalk through your days. If you don’t act on life, life has a way of acting on you. By articulating your goals and then reviewing them for five minutes each morning, you will exert your influence on life and live in a proactive rather than reactive manner. By setting goals, you will have a framework or decision matrix that will drive better choices. You will become aware—within a few seconds—when you get off plan. You’ll make fewer mistakes and get more done in less time. As the novelist Saul Bellow said: “A plan relieves you of the torment of choice.”
Setting your goals is a bold play for your best life. Setting your goals is an act of heroism because you are reaching for the potential that has been invested in you.