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Leadership Lessons Part 1 – Constant Commitment

Eighty percent of success is just showing up – Woody Allen

Reaching the 80 percent threshold is probably not the time to start patting oneself on the back.  In fact, if we buy the notion at face value, we should at least acknowledge that it is a meager accomplishment. The next 20 percent is where any meaningful difference will be made.

Let’s take the example of a swimmer – joining a swim team is good.  You fill out the paperwork, get the practice schedule, buy your equipment, pack your athletic bag and head to the pool.  But the real work is ahead and will be reached in smaller increments – smaller increments that won’t provide pulse-raising rushes of gratification easily.

The next 20 percent is going to require constant commitment.  And doing a lot of stuff you don’t necessarily want to do:  swim the laps, work out in the weight room, eat right, swim more laps, compete when you’re sick, do more weight room work, opt out of a lot of fun, spend weekends at venues in order to actually compete for a race that will take no more than 2 minutes.

In order to be successful in our business, we have to embrace the 20 percent and commit to it.  It is unreasonable to expect success without constant commitment.  Executing one marketing tactic and then deciding that further execution isn’t warranted because the results of the first tactic haven’t solved all revenue woes is tantamount to an athlete saying “it’s not worth going to swim practice – I spent my time, I spent my money and I didn’t win my first race.  Practice doesn’t work.”

What is needed is constant commitment.  One offs in marketing don’t work.  It’s not an a la carte activity – it’s a business lifestyle.  The marketing vehicle (direct mail, email, conferences, seminars, social media, etc) is, in many cases, a benign choice.  Swimming faster doesn’t depend on whether your suit is black or red or purple.  Swimming faster depends on the work you did before you put on the suit.

The marketing regimen needs to be exercised daily.  It needs a constant commitment to be well-prepared, executed with intensity, measured and reviewed.

This is the beginning of series based on my reflections of how my brother leads his swim team.  As successful as his career as a swimmer was, he is even more successful as a coach.  As I was driving back to Austin, I thought of the strategy, tactics, and dedication he brings to leadership and the demands he makes of his team and I saw countless parallels to running a business and executing marketing.

Coming up in Part 2 – Always be improving.

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