Authors: Robin Sharma
This very day can be the first day of your new life. It’s all your choice.
I have more but these are my best personal practices, the ones that bring out my highest. Pick the ones that resonate with you. Discard the ones that you disagree with. Just find what works for the way you live. Then act on them today. This very day can be the first day of your new life. It’s all your choice.
At a leadership training program I recently gave for a group of high-tech managers, a distinguished-looking man came up to me at the break and shared: “I love what you said about the need for each one of us to develop a leadership culture within our organizations. At our company, one of our top priorities is to work on our culture. We talk about it all the time. Last year, our company grew 600%. Our focus on culture-building worked splendidly.” Impressive.
As I’ve suggested earlier, one of your most sustainable competitive advantages will be developing a Culture of Leadership. When clients engage Sharma Leadership International for organizational development and employee training, one of the first areas we focus on is developing the company’s culture—because all performance is driven by the culture. Your competitors will copy your products if they are good. They will copy your services. They will copy your branding. But they will never be able to copy your culture. And your culture is the very thing that makes your organization special. Your organization’s culture is what sets—and then drives—the standards of behavior. Your culture tells your people what’s acceptable and important. Your culture lets people know what
your organization values (e.g., honesty, innovation, unending improvement, wowing customers, collaboration, candor and so on). Your organization’s culture states its philosophy, its mythology, its religion. To me, culture is king.
One of your most sustainable competitive advantages will be developing
what I call a Culture of Leadership.
The five best ways to build culture are as follows:
I like the “cult” in culture. The best companies, like Dell and Google and Southwest Airlines and Apple and Wal-Mart, have something in common with cults. They have unique rituals like 7 a.m. team huddles or Friday afternoon pizza parties to promote team bonding. Rituals shape culture and keep it special.
John Abele, founder of the multi-billion-dollar Boston Scientific, once told me over dinner that “you get what you celebrate.” Powerful idea. When you see someone living the values your culture stands for, make them a public hero. Behavior that gets rewarded is behavior that gets repeated. Catch people doing good.
Your people become what the leaders talk about; to get your vision and values into your people’s hearts, you need to be talking about that stuff constantly—at employee gatherings, at your weekly meetings, during your daily huddles and at the water cooler. You need to evangelize what you stand for constantly. In his excellent book
Jack Welch said that he spent so much time evangelizing GE’s mission that he could call his people at three in the morning and—half asleep—they could re-state it. (He never did.)
A mission-critical focus to build culture is employee development. If you agree that your organization’s number-one resource is your people, then it only makes sense to invest significantly in developing your number-one resource. Hold seminars and have leadership workshops to instill the values you seek to nurture and build a leadership culture into their hearts and minds. When your people improve, your company will improve.
Great companies have cultures where great stories are told from generation to generation. The story about how the company was founded in a basement or the story about how a teammate went the extra mile and delivered a customer’s baby or the story about how the organization fought back to victory from the brink of disaster. Storytelling cements a company’s most closely cherished ideals into the hearts of its people.
People want to go to work each day and feel they are a part of a community. One of the deepest psychological needs of a human being is the need for belonging. We also want to work for an organization that values us, that promotes our personal growth and that makes us feel that we are contributing to a dream. Get these things right by creating a Culture of Leadership and you’ll keep your stars and attract other ones. And wouldn’t that be perfect?
There’s an old phrase that says “what you’re doing speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.” You can say that your primary value involves putting your family first, but if time with your family is not all over your schedule, well then the
of the matter is that your family life isn’t your priority. You can say that being in world-class physical condition is another top value but if I don’t see five or six workouts etched into your weekly schedule, then the reality to be confronted is that your health just isn’t as important as you profess it to be. You can argue that self-development is an essential pursuit to you because the better you are, the more effective you’ll be. Show me your schedule and I’ll discover the truth. Because your schedule doesn’t lie.
There can be no authentic success and lasting happiness if your daily schedule is misaligned with your deepest values. That’s a big idea that has been so helpful to so many of the executive clients that I coach. If there is a gap between what you do and who you are, you are out of integrity. I call it The Integrity Gap. The greater the chasm between your daily commitments and your deepest values, the less your life will work (and the less happiness you will feel). Why? Because you are not walking your talk. Because your video is not congruent with your audio.
Because you are committing the crime of self-betrayal. Worst crime of all. And the witness that lives within the deepest part of you—your conscience—sees it.
Your schedule is the best barometer for what you truly value and believe to be important.
Your schedule is the best barometer for what you truly value and believe to be important. Too many people talk a good talk. But talk is cheap. Less talk and more do. Show me your schedule and I’ll show you what your priorities are. I used to be a litigation lawyer. Witnesses in the courtroom could say what they wanted to. But the evidence never lied.
I’ve had coaching clients fly their private jets to the small airport near our office in Toronto and show up at our first meeting saying something like: “Robin, I have all the money I’ll ever need and a bunch of homes scattered around the world along with a ton of public acclaim. But I’m desperately unhappy.” I ask why. “Because I lost my family while I built my business. My wife left me and my kids don’t even know me … that breaks my heart,” is how the reply usually goes.
Put your family, along with your health, at the top of your priority list. Family matters. What’s the point of getting to your dreams but being alone? And few things are more important than being an extraordinary parent. Kids grow up unbelievably fast. Blink and they’re gone—living lives of their own. It seems like only a year or two ago that I witnessed my daughter’s birth. Now she’s 9 and spends much of her free time playing with her best friend Max (a cocker spaniel desperately in need of some training). It seems like yesterday my son was in a stroller with the chubby cheeks of a baby and the sounds of an infant. Now he’s 11, reading even more voraciously than I do and sharing his vision for his future (he wants to be a venture capitalist). Sure it’s a little sad watching your children grow up so quickly.
I guess all I can do is stay devoted to them and be generous with my time (my children have always been my number-one priority). Here are some ideas for you to shine in the incredibly important role of parent:
Try not to teach your fears to your kids. Introduce your children
to what’s possible.
EAD BY EXAMPLE
The best way to influence your kids is to walk the talk. Model the behavior you wish to see. Don’t preach the beauty of books and learning and then head into your family room to watch three hours of MTV. Those little eyes watch everything you do. I talk about this in
Family Wisdom from the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari,
which is a book that will be very helpful to you as you grow young leaders at home.
EVELOP YOUR CHILDREN
See yourself not just as a parent to your children but as a “developer” of them. It’s important to actively develop their minds, hearts and souls. That’s your job. Expose them to great art. Take them to interesting restaurants. Introduce them to cool people who produce unique ideas. JFK’s father would invite fabulously interesting people to dinner often. During the meal, the Kennedy kids would learn from the guest—and then quiz the visitor to deepen their learning. Smart practice.
NSPIRE YOUR KIDS
Big idea: Parents teach their children how to view the world. Parents show kids the way the world works. And
if you see the world as a place of limitation, so will those little people you are raising. Try not to teach your fears to your kids. Introduce your children to what’s possible. Inspire them to be great human beings who will elevate the world—in their own special way. Be an enabler.
Here’s a tool for you that comes from my home. Each night before my kids go to sleep, I make four statements to them. “You can do whatever you want to do when you grow up.” “Never give up.” “Whatever you do, do it well.” And “Remember how much your dad loves you.” Been doing that every night for four years. They often say, “Dad, we know all this stuff now. We know we should never give up and how much you love us. It’s getting boring.” But I have a sense that one day, perhaps when I’m old and wrinkled, a letter will come in the mail from Colby or Bianca, my two favorite people on the planet. And on that piece of paper will be simple words saying, “Dad, I’m living a great life. Thank you for being the father you were. And thank you for those four statements each night. They made a difference.”
Just checked into the Hotel Victor here on South Beach before I wrote this chapter. I saw it being renovated a few months ago and made a mental note to check it out on my next visit to Miami. So here I am, waiting to be impressed, just aching for a reason to tell you something good about this place in a world where so many businesses are boring, slow and stale.
I like trying new hotels when I travel. I observe what to do (and mostly what not to do) when it comes to customer service, study cool design (which stimulates big ideas I can then hand over to my team for our products, ranging from CD covers to clothing) and check out whether the hotel understands that in this “experience economy” we now live in, the customers must be taken on a journey from start to finish that makes them go “wow.”
Good news! This place is amazing. Big smile when I entered from the doorman and a warm greeting. Ultra-cool design inside (none of the stark white of SOBE that used to be so hip that everyone copied it—which then made it un-hip). Lots of green and fresh colors. Sexy music and vibe. Super nice front desk staff—the smile thing again with a wonderful offer of Evian water with a slice of lime while I was checking in. And
since the MTV Video Music Awards are shooting a video with The Killers tonight down by the pool, Karin asked me whether I wanted a room that would allow me to watch all the action. Sure—I don’t need much sleep anyway.
Eric the bellman showed me the workout facility and then the spa. Best hotel gym I’ve seen since the Sanderson in London. And the room is awesome—art deco, impeccably clean and stylishly put together. All very impressive. Stunning, actually—which is the standard I encourage you to aspire to.
In this “experience economy”
we now live in, the customers
must be taken on a journey from start to finish that makes them go “wow.”
Hotel Victor under-promised and then over-delivered. It had a chance to win me over, and through well-trained staff, unique and superbly kept facilities and excellent amenities, it did. Now I’m going back downstairs to try its food (everyone raves about its restaurant, where the chef has a spice rack of 1000 spices that he uses in his cooking). I bet I’ll be wowed.
Some pundits encourage us to enjoy the moment and appreciate what we have, suggesting that constantly striving for more is unhealthy and the primary source of our discontent. And others say that, as human beings, we were built to push beyond our comfort zones each day and reach for something higher—to become great. I’ve struggled a lot with this issue, as I articulate a personal philosophy that I will live my life under. I think I’ve found the answer, a solution that feels right to me: It’s a
I’ve realized. I call it The Mandela Balance.