Little Better


I work with leaders and I consider that a privilege to see them in action. I have worked with a lot of leaders from my present and past. Furthermore, I was thinking what made them to be in that position. Is it knowledge, or they know people or natural ability to lead or decision-making ?

I am sure they are humans, and they are qualified to make mistakes. But what separates them out from the rest is their ability to do basic things with exceptional precision. When I say Basic, I meant Communication, writing concise emails, focused listening, ability to connect the dots, great eye contacts, body language, ability to ask good questions, doing a good Zoom calls or speaking with clarity in phone.

These are common skills, but they do them in balanced, consistent way over long time. In other words, they focus on compounding skill sets. If you notice, these skills are no different between companies or roles or level you are in. These are basic and required at all levels. But executives and successful leaders do this exceptionally well.

A big part of career success is doing the consistent, boring, tedious things that no one else wants to do. Funny thing is, it’s same with exercise and diet. - Chris Shugart (from twitter)

I was speaking to one developer, he mentioned meetings are unproductive. In another call, I noticed one leader was crushing it with awesome insights and provided strategic direction. It is a deliberate use of time and by choice they squeeze the best from any situation. What one considered boring, another use it to effective use. These small boring things when done in an exceptional manner, provide success that compounds over time.

Life is practice, practice is life.

Road to success is not tough, but boring. You are supposed to do same thing little better every single time. Many strive for big shifts and look for game changers. But in reality, small things done right contributes to big success.

Extraordinary accomplishments come from doing ordinary things for extraordinary periods of time

Doing small things over long time alone doesn’t contribute to their success, but they persevere. Never give up attitude, and not taking No for an answer and pushing people to stretch their limits and helping them find answers are a common pattern with great leaders. They shape the people under them to be better individuals.

This gets me to the story I read sometime back, in fact prompted me to write this post,

One day a father went to a Zen master to train his son to make him a man and taste success. Master replied, “Your son has to stay here for 3 months and no visitors allowed including parents”. Father obliged and came back after 3 months. Master arranged for a karate match for the father to see his son fighting. Son was repeatedly beaten up, but his son got up and continued fighting. This went for long time and finally son lost. Master questioned father, “Did you see your son tasting success ?”. Father responded, “I am ashamed my son could not win after 3 months intensive training”. Master replied, “He got up after being beaten up and never gave up”. Master continued, “that is the quality of a great man and that is the taste of success”. That enlightened the father. It is never about the results but learning and consistently putting ourselves back in the boring and long path to success. It’s about being 1% better than yesterday.

I am reminded of this tagline from an ad from Emirate Airlines. This summarizes the idea of this post.

Don’t just fly, fly better - Emirates

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