Results Are Limitless
You can prove this imperative by following the four-week results-are-limited action plans.
By Brent Filson - 10/2003
Week 1: Results Are Limitless
That’s not a supposition. That’s a fact. Leaders who don’t believe that don’t understand Action Leadership and results. Leaders who believe it and live by their belief have an unmatched advantage over those leaders who don’t.
To begin to understand how and why results-are-results are limitless, consider these facts:
- In 1878, Jean Bouillaud, member of the French Academy of Sciences, said upon hearing a demonstration of Thomas Edison’s phonograph, "It is quite impossible that the noble organs of human speech could be replaced ignoble, senseless metal."
- In 1899, Charles H. Duell (Commissioner of U.S. Office of Patents.), urging President William McKinley to abolish his office, said,"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
- An 1909 article in the Scientific American stated, "The automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced."
- Popular Mechanics stated in March 1949: "Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps only weight 11/2 tons."
The point isn’t that experts are wrong. Experts, we know, have been wrong countless times. The point isn’t that things change. That’s obvious. The point is this: BECAUSE THINGS CHANGE, RESULTS ARE LIMITLESS. IN OTHER WORDS, WHATEVER RESULTS YOU ARE ACHIEVING, YOU CAN ALWAYS ACHIEVE MORE.
This may seem like a non sequitur. After all, leaders know that things change. But many leaders whom I have encountered don’t make the connection and fail to realize that results are limitless.
But there is a connection -- a profound connection. And leaders who don’t make that connection, don’t live that connection, are giving short shrift to their leadership and the people they lead.
Living by the results-are-limitless credo can set you apart as a leader who consistently gets results, no matter what the challenge you face.
This week — Start to take a small but well-defined step to manifest results-are-limitless leadership.
- Identify one thing you think is NOT BEING QUESTIONED. Make sure it is something people believe has "reached the limit of its development." It may be a product or features of a product. It may be the way your organization is structured. It may be a successful engineering program.
- Question it. Treat it as if it’s fundamental premise were false. Can you shoot holes in the logical reasons for its existence? If it ain’t broke, see what would happen if you break (change) it — with one end in mind, achieving more results.
- See if you can come up with answers that will lead either to replacing what you’re questioning or improving it.
- Continue this process with other things that are not being questioned.
Don’t look at this as an academic assignment. It’s not homework. It’s the beginning of making the credo part of the DNA of your leadership.
Furthermore, see this as a leadership endeavor. Determine who are the cause leaders you need to make the change happen. Talk to them about how they would take leadership to affect that change. You should not only have "What if ... " discussions but more importantly, "Why not ... "discussions.
Week 2: The Status Quo.
Week 2: The Status Quo.
The next step in manifesting results-are-limitless leadership is to get a fix on the enemy, the status quo. The status quo is simply the existing state of your organization. It may seem benign; but if you take the credo seriously, the status quo can be your worst enemy.
Look at the examples I used at the beginning of this e-zine. In each case, the status quo was being "channeled" out of the mouths of experts. They were wrong. The status quo was wrong. And you can bet that just as the status quo was wrong in the examples I cited, it is wrong now for your organization. To live by the results-are-limitless credo, you must recognize that the status quo is always wrong.
Yet, most leaders give little thought, if any, to the status quo — although they interact with it daily.
This week, take the next step in manifesting a results-are-limitless leadership by clearly identifying your status quo. Make an objective determination by understanding it as literally a product, with features and benefits. What are, say, five features of the status quo? What are five benefits?
Remember, the status quo is composed for the most part of good people (your colleagues, co-workers, supervisors, direct reports, etc.), who usually have good intentions: In fact, you yourself may be an ardent member of the status quo -- without knowing it. It is not so much the individuals that are your adversary but the collective thoughts and actions engendered by the status quo.
So, keep an open mind and an understanding heart when going up against the status quo, especially in the teeth of the attacks which will surely come your way and which you will be identifying and analyzing next week.
Week 3: The Attack of the Status Quo.
Week 3: The Attack of the Status Quo.
Identifying the status quo and understanding its features and benefits is only the first step in dealing with it. The next step is to know that if you threaten it, it will declare war on you. I mean out-and-out war. This war may be waged in genteel surroundings with polite conversations and declarations of good will; but war it will be.
The status quo has three methods of waging war.
(1) PASSIVE RESISTENCE. History shows that one of the most effective ways of waging war is through passive resistence. ‘They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work" was the "war" cry of people in the Communist Block. I’m convinced that the passive resistence of workers in communist countries, more than any other dynamic, defeated the Soviet system, something the monstrous German war machine failed to do.
Look at it this way: the status quo achieves results. After all, if it didn’t, it would cease to exist. But it insists on getting results on its own terms in its customary ways. It sees getting results in any other way as a threat to its survival. And since self preservation is its primary purpose, it declares war when challenged to get results in another way and attacks with its most potent, time-tested weapon — passive resistence.
This is exemplified by what a mid-level manager said to me, "When management wants us to do new things we don’t want to do, we never, never confront them directly. Instead, we agree with them. We might even agree enthusiastically. Then we give it the lowest priority without drawing attention to ourselves. Later, in bits and pieces, we’ll put it aside. Eventually, over time, it dies a natural death. Time is always on our side."
(2) PASSIVE/AGGRESSIVE RESISTENCE. If you persist in the face of passive resistence, the status quo may try more direct responses. For instance, it will have one of its affiliates, the COLD WATER CLUB, go into action. The charter of the Club is clear and simple: Throw cold water on your efforts. "We tried that before and it didn’t work." "I’m too busy." "That’s not my job." "You’re the leader. You take care of it." "That’s not the way we do things." "You’ll ruin this organization." "You don’t understand me." "You don’t understand what I’m doing." "You don’t understand our organization." "It’s more complicated than you think.." "I’m doing the best I can." "Give me a break." "You’re not being real
10/2003© The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – Celebrating 25 years of helping leaders of top companies worldwide achieve outstanding results every day. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get his FREE report "7 Steps To Leadership Mastery"