Leaders who choose to “Step Up and Play Big” have two important and common characteristics. First, they regularly question the “status quo”. The second is that they recognize that their habits define them and, as such, they are always looking for ways to enhance existing habits and learn new ones to help them elevate their game. By striving to elevate their game, they are able to use their full capabilities and continue to move forward.
The reason that successful leaders challenge themselves to question the status quo and strive to keep moving forward, is that when one gets “content”, it’s a surefire way to put the brakes on any future success they might achieve. Why? Simple really: success is a dynamic concept and never a permanent destination or status. To properly maintain it, or build upon it, requires action.
When you achieve one level of success, it’s okay to celebrate what you’ve accomplished. In fact, I would urge you to do so! You’ve earned it; you worked hard to achieve it. However, some folks either keep on celebrating or decide that they can now “ease up.” When this happens, it’s just a matter of time before they lose their focus, purpose, passion, and drive – and that’s when the “beginning of the end” starts.
As I stated, success is never a “permanent” status. You work hard to achieve a certain level of success within your company, industry, or profession. Once you get to that level, you have to keep working hard or harder to stay at that level. Some folks think that they can stop doing the “things” that made them successful – like:
- They stop reading or learning about their industry or company.
- They allow their leadership skills to get stale.
- They don’t think it’s necessary to plan as well as they did before.
- They start to accept less from themselves and others.
- Their communications get sloppy; they don’t pay as much attention to them now since they achieved their “goal”.
The list of mistakes goes on and on – the end result is they lose their edge, and sadly, it’s a result of their own actions or lack thereof. They mistakenly think that they have nothing further to prove. After all, “they’ve made it!” Well, let me share with you the following: if you like the view from the top of the mountain, you have to work even harder to stay there! If you fall into the trap of getting too content, you better improve your listening skills to hear the footsteps of the next leader who is closing in on you to take that view from the top away from you!
So what can a leader do to avoid this “too content trap”? Here are some important leadership qualities to consider…
First, they must make certain that they have a vision for where they want to go. In addition, they have to update it based upon what has been achieved so that it is not only current, but also relevant. Addressing their vision is an excellent example of questioning the status quo.
Next, with an updated and relevant vision, they need to develop new plans to make the vision a reality. This means doing the same things they did that made them a success in the first place.
Finally, to keep themselves on a consistent learning curve, successful leaders are always looking for every opportunity to learn from their past experiences – both good ones and not so good ones, and to apply that knowledge to their current challenges. Every team – especially the champions – watches their game films to learn something about their performance. They then use that knowledge to prepare for their next game. The great teams are the ones who focus exclusively on learning what they need to do to get better.
Getting better is a constant goal of every successful leader. If you want to avoid falling into the trap of getting too content and resting on your past achievements, make “getting better” your driving purpose.