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The Fundamentals of Success

By Tom Flick

Feb. 13, 2015

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, would begin each training camp by addressing his players with a football in his hand, exclaiming, "Men, this is a football, and this is how we are going to carry our football." Sound ridiculous? It shouldn’t. Actually, since the tragedy of Sept. 11 and the scandals and mismanagement of companies like Enron, Worldcom and other corporate giants, the pendulum is swinging back to the side of solid business fundamentals.

Tom FLickWhen I left my NFL playing days behind and entered into what I thought would be the organized, disciplined, team-first culture of corporate America, I was amazed to discover that, for the most part, everyone was basically wingin’ it. That’s right – wingin’ it! Wasted time, wasted energy and wasted talent. Organizations need to get back to the fundamentals of maximizing human performance. Just as there are laws that govern entropy, gravity and aero-dynamics, there are laws that govern human performance – the actual practice of which allows us to successfully change and grow. I’ve witnessed too many organizations and their people caught up more in the terminology and acronyms of change and growth than the actual practice of it.

The fundamentals below have been the catalysts that great companies, organizations and teams possess to maximize the human potential of their most valuable asset: their people.

The Power of a Dream

Create a compelling picture of the future and the belief system that supports it. We don’t live in a society of rich vs. poor – we live in a society of dreamers vs. non-dreamers. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What motivates you?
  • What’s your purpose?
  • How do you focus energy or how do you get people to focus their energy?
  • What’s your picture of your future?
  • What is it that you really do for a living?

The power of a dream answers those questions.

Social psychologists say that we spend 90 percent of waking time gathering information and data to support two things: our past and our present, which leaves just 10 percent of our time to think about our future – and that’s where the magic lies. The truth is, we don’t usually get what we want, but we most always get what we expect. Why? Because the ideas in our heads rule our world. We subconsciously move toward our most dominant belief system. That big dream or compelling picture of our future can actually move us from where we presently are to a future place where we wish to be.

Big, Measurable Goals

If the dream is the launching pad, the rocket is the measurable goal. I am not talking about ethereal goals or idealistic goals, "I wish or hope," but actual, measurable goals with built-in action steps.

Four things occur when we set measurable goals:

  1. Goals allow us to exercise extreme effort – 100 percent effort – all in going all out.
  2. Goals move us from a position of involvement to commitment. Can you receive a paycheck if you’re involved? Yes. But you’ll never be world-class.
  3. Goals allow us to effectively use our full potential.
  4. Goals create contagious, can-do attitudes. Funny, isn’t it, how we hire on aptitude and fire on attitude?

Too many potential winners are competing in life like the cross-eyed discus thrower. He doesn’t score a lot of points, but he keeps the crowd awake because he’s all over the place. Get focused with big, measurable goals.

Character Is Power

Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be esteemed more than gold or silver.” How true. The fundamental truth is good people do win! Doing right is good business. No longer will the win/lose mentality championed by the corporate culture of the last decade be tolerated. Customers are tired of the "me first" attitude.

Successful companies and people understand this fundamental principle and take the time to develop value sets and core beliefs by which to live. Why? Because success is weighty. It puts demands on our character. Without our values clearly defined, people lose all sense of moral responsibility and they end up running Enron. They run large parts of the world, and they run them badly. I don’t mean they run them inefficiently or run them unprofitably. I mean they run them morally badly.

Your customers are essentially asking two questions of you and your people: “Can I trust you?” and “Can I trust your company?” Answer those two concerns by the values you live, and you’ve gained a customer for life.

Authentic Leadership

Authentic leaders are those who know how to “be real" – who have the ability to be honest and transparent with themselves and those they come in contact with. Self leadership, the ability to live and lead the change that we expect in others, is a fundamental law paramount to success. There is a false assumption that power, authority and title make the difference in leadership; they don’t. The people who make the difference are not the ones with the credentials, but the ones who understand that their job is to ultimately help people win. I don’t believe you win and keep clients based on product or price, but with what I call “moments of truth.”

What are “moments of truth?” They are the moments in which you have an opportunity to tell your story and to be real, transparent and authentic. An authentic leader’s voice becomes a megaphone that amplifies above a bad year, shareholder pressure and pressing competition. It also relaxes, liberates, empowers and grants permission for others to be real and speak the truth.

Remember, it’s not what you know, but rather what you do with what you know that makes the difference. Ensure consistent winning results by having the fundamentals of success as part of your game plan.

Tom Flick, a speaker at NBAA's 2015 Leadership Conference, is president of Tom Flick Communications based in Redmond, WA. Flick, a former All-American and NFL quarterback, personally addresses more than 100,000 men and women each year on high-performance strategies for leadership, teamwork, change and personal growth.