Kendall L. Stewart, M.D.
Why are leaders hesitant to do this?
Leaders get tired and discouraged too. It is often tempting to give up. It’s easy to lose focus. Distractions are everywhere. Pressing on in the face of strong opposition or demoralizing apathy is no fun. Self discipline is never easy, but forcing yourself to keep your commitments when your closest colleagues are backsliding means you have to proceed on emergency power. And no leader’s batteries can charge themselves.
What is the case for doing it anyway?
If something is going to get done, someone is going to have to keep at it until it’s done. That’s what leaders do. They keep their eyes on the prize. Don’t misunderstand. Leaders don’t keep doing things that are not working. They just try something else. When that doesn’t work, they try something else again. Leaders regularly change what they are doing, but they never quit doing something.
How can you do it?
1. Make a public commitment. Raise the stakes. It’s a lot harder to quit when you have to go back on your word to do so. Making a public commitment invites others to hold you accountable. The fear of public humiliation is motivating.
2. Stay focused on results. This focus limits the danger of distractions. Unless you stay focused on results your day will fill up with exhausting tasks that may or may not have anything to do with your ultimate goals.
3. Study comparative performance data. When you examine your comparative data, it will be clear that others have found a way to perform better than you are currently performing. This means it can be done. This limits your ability to waste time making excuses for your own inferior performance.
4. Surround yourself with people who will not let you quit. Collegial diehards are God’s gift to leaders. These people are tough. They will not accept your bull. They will confront you in love. They will scoff at your feeble rationalizations and make you uncomfortable. They are never satisfied. And they lead by example. When you weaken, they will pull you along. This is why leadership is a team sport.
5. Remind yourself of past successes. People who never quit enjoy more success than those who do. Those past triumphs can provide just the inspiration you need to keep going.
How do you keep doing while others are merely wishing and hoping?