Get Stuck or Get Moving
May 28, 2020 | BY Simcha Felder
In business, much as in life, there are things outside our control. Sudden social, political or economic change can dramatically alter the landscape. When that happens- and inevitably it does- many leaders are presented with similar difficult circumstances, and where some succeed, others fail. Valuable lessons can be learned by observing those who get stuck as well as those who manage to keep moving forward.
Talk to any transformational leader and they will tell you that failure is something you need to get comfortable with if you want to be great. If it’s true that the greatest leaders once failed, then what exactly does it mean to fail, and, more importantly, how do we measure success?
Sports psychology explains what top athletes all have in common: they are always competing against themselves. They don’t play to beat the other players; they strive to outdo their own performance. If they lose, they respect the competition rather than gripe about unfair conditions. Every match is an opportunity to hone their skills. After every game, win or lose, they evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their performance and adjust their efforts accordingly.
This model works in business as well. The best business leaders are competing against themselves. They understand that in business there is no absolute winner or loser, because the game is infinite. The infinite‐minded player understands that sometimes you have the better product, and sometimes “they” do. And it’s okay because this game isn’t over until you say so; it keeps going as long as you keep going.
When the going gets tough, the only way business will get better is when you do something better. The markets, the economy and the competition are not in your control. You can hope for one, or all of those things to change, or you can change what is in your control‐ your attitude, your process and your effort.
Jeff Bezos often muses about how customer obsession is key to Amazon’s growth. Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant wrote about being fueled by his obsession to be the best, and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston talks about how critical it is to be obsessed with solving a problem that matters to you. What inspires these kind of “obsessions”?
“The most successful, hardest‐working people I know don’t work hard because they’re disciplined,” says Houston. “They work hard because they’re enjoying solving a problem they really care about…it’s not about pushing yourself — it’s about finding the thing that pulls you.”
If you are going to focus on a problem, find one you are enthusiastic about solving and then get excited about pursuing your goal. To be a success, you don’t have to be the best, you just have to be committed to doing something a little better all the time.