Why some succeed and others do not

June 23, 2014 | By Neil Ducoff | 4 Comments

loserI’ve been coaching business owners and leaders for 40 years. I’ve written four books, one of which is an award-winner, on No-Compromise Leadership and business growth. It is a joy and deeply fulfilling to see leaders transform their companies from “OK” to being productive, efficient, and profitable – and vision/purpose driven. It’s even more rewarding to see leaders tenaciously and courageously leading their companies out of the fiery pits of cultural and financial hell to the daylight of teamwork, profits and cash reserves.

But yet… there are those that just can’t seem to find success – even when provided with a map and directions.

You can’t do the work I do without understanding patterns of thinking and behavior. As I wrote at length in No-Compromise Leadership, a leader’s thinking and behavior is much like the operating system of a computer. The operating system sets the functionality and capability of the computer to exercise tasks. As human beings, we each have our own “operating system” that defines our learning and behavior styles as well as processing patterns (how we think). And just as your computer’s operating system requires periodic updates, so does yours.

Here are my TEN no-compromise “gotta do’s” for why some succeed and others don’t:

  1. Gotta have a purpose: Success is measured in many ways, not just by numbers. Success is about fighting for something that you believe in. Call it a vision, a goal or cause… it’s the purpose of what you’re seeking to achieve that pulls you toward success. Having a purpose is what pushes you to dig deep and find strength where you thought none existed. “I’m laying bricks” is about getting a paycheck. “I’m laying these bricks to build a cathedral” is about having a purpose. What’s your purpose?
  2. Gotta master the skills: Success in business takes more than great ideas and technical expertise – it demands achieving a level of mastery in guiding and controlling the Four Business Outcomes: Productivity, Profitability, Staff Retention and Customer Loyalty. It’s like being an orchestra leader where knowledge of music composition, instruments, leadership, consistency and, most importantly, emotion, must blend together seamlessly. Yes, you can surround yourself with masters of the various skills, but without personal mastery, neither the music nor the success will sound or look very good. What skills do you need to master?
  3. Gotta show up and do the work: Success stories in business and life are about people that showed up and did the work. They show up early and stay late. They don’t watch the clock waiting for work to be over. They not only take responsibility, they seek it out. Their nature is to become indispensible to the company. They can be counted on and trusted to be there. Those that wait around for success to be handed to them will be waiting a lifetime if they don’t upgrade their thinking and behavior – and they will always remain dispensable. Are you truly showing up to do the work? If not, get out of the way.
  4. Gotta do the tough stuff: Success in business and life comes from doing the tough stuff. By tough stuff, I’m referring to things like making deep cuts to pull your company out of a financial crisis, or having to fire someone you were close to because of poor performance or behavior. Difficult decisions and conversations are part of the voyage to success. Good judgment and integrity must prevail, but the tough stuff will always need to be done. What tough stuff is waiting on your plate?
  5. Gotta get uncomfortable: You can’t get physically fit without working out and feeling the burn. Likewise, you can’t achieve success kicking back and hanging out in the comfort zone. Success is about pushing the envelope and strategically rocking your boat. Simply put, getting to that elusive next level is going to require you and your team to break a sweat. What tasks and initiatives are you implementing to get uncomfortable?
  6. Gotta get back up: This one is easy; When you fall down… or get knocked down… you gotta get back up. Failures and losses are part of every great success story. Yes, serious blows can knock you down hard and take time to recover from, but recovery is not an option – it’s what successful people and companies do. Life lessons are often the hardest blows, but they’re the ones you truly learn from. What’s your “get back up” story?
  7. Gotta have a coach: Even though you’re surrounded by people, leadership can be lonely. There are always questions, strategies or second opinions on which you need objective guidance and insight. The best leaders have a coach to tell them not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. More importantly, a coach keeps you on task and accountable in ways that employees cannot. Do you have a business coach?
  8. Gotta believe in yourself: I do my fair share of doubting myself and the success I am capable of achieving. But in the end, I believe in myself. I’ve written an award-winning book that I wasn’t sure I could write. I’ve built a successful company that I wasn’t sure I could build. I’ve delivered speeches at conferences around the world that I wasn’t sure I could do. And I’ve completed many 100-mile plus bicycle rides that I wasn’t sure I could finish (and, at 64 years old, I’m doing another 150-mile ride again on June 28th and 29th). How much do you believe in yourself to go after what you really want?
  9. Gotta be true to yourself: Being true to yourself means never compromising your values, integrity and what you believe is right for you. It means walking away from opportunities and situations that don’t feel right. It also means respecting yourself and never allowing anyone to dictate what you can and cannot do – or to hold you hostage out of fear. When you stay true to yourself, you will always be on the path to success. How do you stay true to yourself?
  10. Gotta want it by a factor of TEN: As a leader, you must want success by a factor of TEN over those you lead. When you are that resolute, passionate and committed to achieving success, you create an undeniable sense of urgency and energy throughout your company. You become the leader that people want to follow, and your company becomes one that people want to fight for. Your vision becomes their vision. People quit leaders that aren’t going anywhere. Do you want success by a factor of TEN?

Categories: Business Builders , Leadership , Monday Morning Wake-Up , No-Compromise Leadership

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  1. In response to #4 – firing an employee (whether you are close or not) due to poor performance is never easy, but sometimes it is a step you need to take to help keep your business going. Businesses who are in dire financial straits should run job costing reports, which basically analyze whether or not an employee is contributing to the company’s bottom line. Sometimes an employee can end up hurting your business, and these tough decisions need to be made for the greater good of the business.


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