Every company and organization has its superstars. That top 10 to 15 percent of the organization that are the workhorses, the engines of growth. The best. These are the people leaders love to have on their teams. These superstars are the secret to the success of any company. They disproportionately drive results and deliver the famous “80 for 20” — 80 percent of the output coming from 20 percent of the people.
There are common statements one can, and does, hear in any company. And sometimes, we even think these statements are “normal” or “okay.” But interestingly enough, these five common statements I have never heard come out of the mouth of any of the superstars who have worked for me over the past 34 years. Why? Because each of these statements indicates an underlying character flaw of such magnitude that the mere presence of this mindset limits the individual from ever becoming a superstar.
1. “That’s not my job.” My current chairman is a superstar. He’s chairman of the entire group of diverse companies. But each day, as he visits a restaurant, or his doctor or dentist, he is selling our paper brands. He’s probably one of the best sales reps in the company! Passion 24/7 to grow the business. If anyone can kick back and relax, it’s a chairman! But not ours. He will do what it takes to grow the business and no job is beneath him. This is the hallmark of a superstar. They will do what they must to get the job done. Others argue and point fingers and say, “That’s not my job.” They spend more energy defending and making excuses than getting the job done in the first place!
2. “I am disciplined when I want to be.” This is the common response a less-than-superstar says when given feedback that they must improve self-discipline. It’s honestly an idiotic statement! It makes no sense. The very definition of discipline is, “Doing something when the person has no desire to do so.” So, if you want to do something, then it requires no discipline to do it in the first place! Superstars never utter this sentence, or anything close to it, because they know discipline is a way of life. They know it is a 24/7 kind of thing. It’s not a light switch one turns off and on. Superstars are disciplined across every facet of life, because it’s a way of life.
3. “It’s good enough.” This statement is the hallmark of typically sloppy employees who complete their work to low standards just to “get it out the door.” Quality is a secondary consideration. Superstars know their work is their résumé, and it represents them. They seek consistently high quality, reflecting their own personal commitment to excellence. The superstar knows that “good enough” is neither: It’s neither good, nor enough.
4. “I don’t have time to train my people.” This is a statement uttered by managers who are caught in a vicious cycle. Their people need development to step up and carry their weight. But the manager instead focuses on doing the work for them, meaning they never learn, never improve, and the manager is overloaded. And as a result, the manager cannot train and it’s an endless vicious cycle. The superstar manager knows the secret to success is having a thriving team. “Nobody is smarter than everybody,” and if you have a team of four working for you, getting those four well-trained and motivated to deliver is a much stronger proposition than trying to “do it alone” with a sub-optimally performing team. Superstars always put training first. They know getting their people to optimal performance is the only way to success. It’s a force multiplier.
5. “This is impossible.” This is what comes out of the mouths of non-superstars when confronted by a daunting goal. They’ve already decided they can’t do it. And sure enough, once a person thinks this, well, they are right: it is impossible! Attacking a challenge by focusing on limitations is a surefire way to fail. Superstars, on the other hand, are not blindly optimistic, either. They see challenging goals for what they are. They can be daunted by a goal, but they still commit to go for it and try. They don’t say anything is impossible. Superstars recognize that if “we put a man on the moon, we can solve X issue.” And they get to work on it. They believe it is possible. They may fail sometimes, but they give it their full effort in the belief that it is indeed possible. Attitude determines altitude!
What comes out of our mouth reflects what we think. And what we think defines our character. Character is indeed malleable, and that’s good news. We can change. We can adopt the attitude of a superstar. And a simple way to start can be in eliminating these five statements from our vocabularies!
About James Michael Lafferty: Jim Lafferty is the CEO OF Fine Hygienic Holding. Jim is a Fortune 100 CEO, Olympic Coach, Keynote speaker and trainer and an award winning journalist. Jim has had a P/L responsibility for 29 straight years since 1989 and has overdelivered the P/L in 27 of those 29 years. Jim is also a philanthropist.
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