Authors: Robin Sharma
Nelson Mandela, a man I greatly admire, once said: “After climbing a great hill, one finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk has not yet ended.”
To me, Nelson Mandela is suggesting that it truly is all about a balance. Enjoy the view from where you are at. Savor
how far you have come. Be grateful for where you are along the journey that is your life. Live in the moment. But also remember that with the gifts that reside within you come great responsibilities. I believe that every human being has a “duty to shine.” We must not rest on our past wins and become complacent. We must walk out into the world—each day—and do our best to be of greater service to others, realize more of our potential and become better citizens on the planet. We must continually walk toward our fears and make more of our lives. We must constantly play a bigger game and use our creative talents to do, be and see more. This drive to realize more of our greatest selves has, I believe, been knitted into our DNA and to deny it is to deny our human nature.
This world was built by people who felt some discontent with the way things were and knew they could do better.
And yes, as we set higher dreams and raise our personal standards, we will create some discontent. But this world was built by people who felt some discontent with the way things were and knew they could do better. “Show me a completely contented person and I’ll show you a failure,” observed Thomas Edison. Politically incorrect these days, I know. But I think he was speaking truth. The greatest among us were not satisfied with the way things were. Think Gandhi. Think Mother Teresa. Think Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Think Bill Gates. Think Einstein. Think Mandela.
So love what you have. And then go for what you want. Enjoy the climb up the mountain. But never take your eyes off the summit.
I spoke to the leadership team of Satyam Computer Services a few months ago. Amazing company. One of Asia’s fastest growing IT firms: zero to $1 billion in less than 10 years. 23,000 employees. The chairman is a visionary. I’ll share one of his powerful ideas. There are 1500 top managers at Satyam. They run 1500 different divisions and functions. So he tells them that they are not really managers—they are the CEOs of their own small businesses. The larger corporation is simply an “investor” that they need to keep happy. It provides them with resources, structures and opportunities. They just have to return results. The concept inspires them to take ownership of their functional areas and behave like entrepreneurs. It gets them to act like real leaders. It encourages them to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Brilliant.
Take personal responsibility for the success
of your business. Show up like an entrepreneur. Grow sales. Cut costs. Get good stuff done.
You are the CEO of your functional area. Do you have a finance function at your company? You are the CEO of that area, that small business. Work in human resources? That’s your small business. Clean-up at the end of the day? You run a clean-up business that serves the larger company you work with. Take personal responsibility for the success of your business. Show up like an entrepreneur. Grow sales. Cut costs. Get good stuff done. You will shine in your career. And the CEO will love you.
One of the best ways I know to create spectacular results in the most important areas of your life is through daily practice. Top athletes know that practice is how you get to greatness. I was in Moscow a while back for a series of speeches and workshops. One morning I went down to the hotel gym for a workout. It was 6 a.m. Guess who was there? Mary Pierce, the tennis star. For two hours, she ran, lifted weights, did sit-ups and countless push-ups. She was paying the price for success.
You need to practice to get to your greatness. Athletes know this so very well. Why does it seem so foreign to the rest of us? Sure practice takes discipline. But as my friend Nido Qubein (the business consultant and motivational speaker) often says: “The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret.” Wise man.
What I’m suggesting is that personal and professional greatness takes work. I would never suggest that you could get to your dreams without having to make some sacrifices and pay the price in terms of dedication and self-control. “Pay the price.” Words with the ring of truth. The best among us make it all look so easy. I call it the Swan Effect—elite performers make personal and business mastery look effortless and seem to make
things happen as gracefully as a swan moves along the water. But, like the swan, what you don’t get to see is all the planning, discipline, hard work and near-flawless execution taking place below the surface.
Top athletes know that practice is how you get to greatness.
In my life, I have a series of practices that set me up for a great day. I’ve shared those with you. Yes, sometimes life sends you unexpected challenges that knock you off track—that’s just life happening. But with a series of best practices in place to keep you at your highest, you’ll stay in a positive state much more often. This is a simple yet life-changing idea that has helped so many of our clients. Practices that will lock you into your best state include a morning journaling session where you record your feelings, thoughts and the blessings you are grateful for. Or you may start your day with a strong workout and an elite performer’s meal. I often listen to music for 15 minutes, as it not only energizes me, it makes me feel happier. I also use Success Statements or affirmations to get my mind focused. Success and joy and inner peace don’t just show up. You need to create them. Find your series of practices, perform them with consistency. And then go out into this beautiful world of ours and shine.
“Be enthusiastic” smacks of the obvious. “Be energetic” sounds trite. “Be passionate” seems boring. Yet without enthusiasm, energy and passion, you cannot lead your field and an organization cannot get to world class. (Hey, I never suggested this leadership stuff was rocket science.) Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is due to the triumph of enthusiasm.” And Samuel Ullman observed: “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” Enthusiasm matters.
The people I love to be around are generally those that have a simple, heartfelt quality: They are enthusiastic. Wildly so. They are open to life. They are curious. They love to learn. They smile when they see me. And they have a lot of fun. Play hard or don’t play at all.
Today, show up at work with all the enthusiasm you can genuinely muster. Be outrageously energetic and madly alive. See the best in people. Go the extra mile to delight your customers. See the opportunity for learning and personal evolution amidst a seeming setback. Embrace change as a chance to
grow. Have a laugh with a teammate. Tell your loved ones you adore them. Spread some passion. I’ll be the first to agree that you can’t control what happens to you each day. But with an abundance of enthusiasm, I have no doubt that whatever the coming hours bring, you will handle them with grace, strength and a smile.
Be outrageously energetic and madly alive
Too many leadership experts make being successful and fulfilled sound complicated. They preach the latest technique and offer the latest modality that they say will speed you to your greatest life. Take a magic pill or try the latest fad and all will be fine—life will be perfect.
Nonsense. Yes, crafting an extraordinary existence takes work. Of course, getting to greatness—personally and professionally—requires sacrifices. A primary sign of maturity is the ability to give up instant gratification for a much more spectacular pleasure down the road. And true, the right thing to do is generally the hardest thing to do. But here’s the good news: With daily, consistent effort in the direction of your dreams and an application of the fundamentals of success, you really can get to the place you’ve always dreamed of getting to.
Success isn’t sexy. It’s all about working the basics of excellence with a passionate consistency. I love that word. Consistency. It’s amazing how far you will get by just staying with something long enough. Most people give up too early. Their fears are bigger than their faith, I guess.
Stick to the fundamentals that you know in your heart are true and you’ll do just fine. What are those fundamentals?
Things like being positive, taking responsibility for your role in what’s not working in your life, treating people well, working hard, being an innovator rather than a follower, getting up early, setting your goals, speaking your truth, being self-disciplined, saving your money, caring for your health and valuing your family. I told you that you already know this stuff. Nike is a client of ours. And they got it right with all that JDI stuff: Just Do It! As I wrote in my book
Who Will Cry When You Die?,
“The smallest of actions is always better than the noblest of intentions.”
Don’t complicate things. Getting to your best life is simple. Not easy but simple. It just takes focus and effort. That philosophy about the thousand mile journey beginning with a single step is true. Do a little each day to get you to your goals and over time you’ll get there. Small daily gains lead to giant results over a lifetime.
It’s amazing how far you will get by just staying with something long enough. Most people give up too early. Their fears are bigger than their faith.
Big idea: Personal—and organizational—greatness is not about revolution but about evolution, those small but consistent wins. Sam Walton began with a single store. Richard Branson began with his first little record shop. Steve Jobs started Apple out of his garage. Hey, I started with a few cases of self-published books that I’d printed in a Kinko’s copy shop. And only 23 people showed up for my first seminar—21 of them were family members. Every dream starts small. But you need to start. Today.
Get this: I just heard that people across North America are showing up at designated places to have “cuddle parties.” Strangers get together, introduce themselves and then spend time cuddling. Nothing more—just feeling the touch of another human being and feeling connected. Hmmm.
The paradox of our wired world
is that as we become more connected electronically, we become less
The paradox of our wired world is that as we become more connected electronically, we become less connected emotionally. People spend hours each night reading blogs, downloading
podcasts and surfing the internet. But they’ve forgotten the importance of old-fashioned conversation. They’ve neglected the power of breaking bread with family and friends. And they’ve lost sight of the importance of human touch.
Do what you like. I’m not a judge. But I have no plans to show up at a cuddle party any time soon. I’d rather work to build the bonds of humanity with those already around me by being loving to my kids and other family, kind to my friends and supportive of my teammates and clients. Just doing that would give me all the cuddles I need.
After I gave a speech for a major telecommunications company, a woman walked up to me with tears in her eyes. “Robin, I’ve read all your books and try my best to live the kind of life you write about. But there was a man who actually lived your message. He died a few months ago. He was my dad.” She paused, and looked down at the floor. “Five thousand people showed up at my father’s funeral,” she said. “The whole town was there. I was so honored to see that.”
“Was your dad a well-known businessperson?” I asked. “No,” she replied. “A popular politician?” I wondered aloud. “No,” she whispered. “Was your father some kind of a local celebrity?” “No, Robin, he wasn’t at all.” “Then why did 5000 people come to your dad’s funeral?” I had to ask.
Another long pause. “They came because my father was a man who always had a smile on his face. He was the kind of person who was always the first to help someone in need. He always treated people incredibly well and was unfailingly polite. He walked the earth ever so lightly. Five thousand people showed up at my dad’s funeral because he was good.”
Whatever happened to valuing being good? Reality TV shows exhibit the worst of human behavior. We see music superstars
who swear every five seconds. We read about corporate leaders who fill their pockets to buy bigger boats while shareholders lose their life savings. I loved the movie
But Gordon Gekko got it wrong: Greed isn’t good. Good is good.
Some people laugh at the notion of being nice and decent and noble. “That’s a sign of weakness,” I hear. Nope. It’s a sign of strength. Soft is hard. It’s easy to put yourself first. It’s easy to get angry when someone disagrees with you. It’s easy to complain or condemn or take the path of least resistance. What takes guts is to stand for something higher, to behave greater and to be of service to others. Like Mandela. Like Gandhi. Like King. Heroes of mine. I wish I could be one-quarter as good as them.