In the final segment of this blog series about Success, inspired by Richard St. John’s The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common, we meet three more Rock Stars who are focusing, working hard, and serving up awesomeness.
Once you’re up to speed, fill yourself up with more inspiration from a business owner who aims to serve her team first; a talent acquisition specialist who inherited his hard work ethic from his father; and an accomplished writer who defined her mission with the help of focus!
Transformation Consultant and Founding President, Clear Concept Inc.; Author, The Email Warrior
Some of history’s most transformational leaders embodied service. Think of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. They all lived with a driving purpose of serving others. And clearly, they each made a profound impact.
I launched my career at a company that believed in servant leadership. The leaders grounded every business decision in what was best for their customers. And this focus translated into an inspired, passionate team.
It is easy to see how businesses need to serve their customers. However, true service-oriented leaders are also committed to team service. As a productivity and leadership trainer, I strive to embrace servant leadership with my team as well, using six key principles:
- Doing the right thing
There are many grey situations in business, where a leader is called upon to make a judgment call. The correct decision for the “bottom line” isn’t always the best decision for the customer or team member. Should you waive a charge? Should you bring in extra support? Servant leaders reflect upon and move towards doing the right thing for others. Ironically, this leads to better results for the business in the long-term.
- Making others look good
Servant leaders strive to help their customers and team succeed. They provide solutions, opportunities, best practices and connections. This provides others with the resources to thrive.
- Helping others save face
There is rarely benefit (if ever) in proving someone wrong. Humans have an inherent need to be right. Servant leaders build on, rather than debate ideas. This creates a safe environment that encourages people to do their best work.
- Managing negative emotions
We’re all human but servant leaders are conscious of how their mood influences others. They strive to exude optimism and enthusiasm and set an energized tone for their team. In doing so, they eliminate needless drama and wasted energy.
- Asking rather than telling
Servant leaders solicit input from others. They believe the strongest ideas come from diverse perspectives and are not threatened by others challenging their thinking. This creates robust, creative and transformational solutions.
- Learning and supporting others’ goals Servant leaders support their team’s goals, resulting in more engaged employees who pursue work they find inspiring.
In my experience, servant leadership is a highly effective style to enable the best possible performance from teams. And when a team shines, we collectively are capable of doing amazing things.
Head of Talent at Klass Capital
My late father worked very hard – consistently and for decades. His work ethic and commitment were incredible. He built a thriving law firm and an enviable professional reputation. When I was a child, my father came home for dinner after a long day at the office – we ate together, he helped us with homework, and coached our hobbies. After my sisters and I went to bed, he continued to work well into the night, sometimes working at the dining room table until 2 AM. He loved his career and was passionate about helping people who were injured. He never complained. Although he dedicated long hours to serve his clients, he also spent time taking care of family members, coaching and mentoring young lawyers, and performing charitable work – and he was always a very active and beloved member of our community.
My dad’s work ethic was so influential on my own core belief system. From a very early age I equated WORKING HARD and WORKING SMARTLY with SUCCESS. Consistent hard work led to success. Cause and effect. As I grew and matured, this principle stuck with me. Still today, my inner voice repeats “work hard, work hard, work hard.” Naturally, I worked very hard in high school and university, and I continue to embrace this philosophy today, well into my career.
While I might not be the smartest person in the classroom or the boardroom, I can out-work anyone in terms of drive, dedication, effort, and consistency. In high school and university, I spent more hours in the library studying than my peers (but to stay balanced, I also made time to hang with friends…and this still remains a priority). In my first job, I always gave 150% and ensured all my projects and tasks were completed to meet the highest professional standards. If you are looking for someone who takes short cuts, look elsewhere.
I love what I do as a talent acquisition specialist and I am passionate about helping companies grow their teams. The organizations I partner with know I am deeply committed to helping them scale and attract and retain the best talent. I am relentless in helping them meet their objectives. I have always believed that where we focus our energies is where energy grows. As Tony Robbins says “where focus goes, energy flows.”
I know my dad would have agreed – the best part of success as a result of working hard is that it comes with a rewarding feeling of personal satisfaction that is tough to beat. Accomplishments and accolades feel better when you know you have worked hard for them.
When I left my full-time corporate job last April, I was beyond excited to dive into the entrepreneurial life head-on. I was hungry, I was wide-eyed, I was ready. But to be transparent: I was also super nervous! I mean, I was going from the stability and predictability of a steady pay check to the unknown world of freelance life. I was plagued with thoughts like What if I’m not busy next month? and Did I do the right thing?
Basically, a horrible four-letter “F” word: fear.
My solution? Say “yes” to EVERYTHING.
This meant taking on every contract I was faced with, from social media to copywriting. It’s a blessing to be busy, but the blessing quickly became a curse when I was on the verge of burnout. A few months into self-employment, and I was exhausted. The work-life balance I was craving seemed more like an elusive goal than a reality, and I quickly realized that I was running out of steam and more importantly: I had left my full-time job and still wasn’t pursuing my passion.
In the meantime, I met and connected with two fellow entrepreneurs (who I haven’t even met IRL yet, but our bonds are strong!)
One is Life Coach Andrea Crisp, who helped me realize that I wasn’t “living my purpose” and who continues to give me the tools I need to have courage as a businesswoman.
As a result of Work Bigger, I developed my mission (which is essentially, in Simon Sinek’s terms, my “Why”). Here goes:
My mission is to offer guidance and mentorship to women by aligning with brands that value self-expression, integrity and impact.
I decided to focus on writing (i.e. copywriting for brands and contributing to magazines that are in line with my mission) and let go of my social media projects. By focusing on writing, I was defining my niche and expertise, and maintaining laser-sharp vision throughout my projects and goals.
Focus allows you to:
A: Do away with distractions (which literally detract you from moving forward towards your goals).
B: Know which projects are a clear-cut “yes” and a definitive “no.” (I love how Tim Ferriss puts it: “If It’s Not a ‘Hell, Yeah,’ It’s a No.”)
C: Become an expert in one thing rather than be average at a variety of things. Focus is why Adele said “no” to the Super Bowl halftime show (it’s simply not part of her brand), and why Taylor Swift focused on making a pop album with 1989 instead of releasing a pop album that would also feature country songs. (I love this quote of hers: “If you chase two rabbits, you lose them both.”)
Focus leads to another “f” word: fulfillment.
Thank you Ann, Jared, and Karin – I am blown away by your journeys and insights.
To my readers, I hope this blog series on Success lights a spark…or better yet, inspires a Mission Statement!