When I was preparing for college, I intended to get a job and help pay my way. I had scholarships and received some other meal and lodging perks by living in a fraternity house, so the financial burden I was creating for myself and my parents was not substantial compared to others. I always worked during the summers and took summer classes (a lighter load of classes), but I felt I could help pay my way during the fall and spring semesters as well. At this point my father spoke up and said “I want to make a deal with you….. I would rather you focus on school and get good grades so that you have the best options after college. If you will treat every day like a job, which means regardless of when you have classes, you go to campus from 8-5 and either go to class, or go to the library and study, then I will cover the rest of your finances”. He also let me know that if I did not come through on my end (if I received a GPA of 3.4 or lower) the deal was off.
I took the offer, and most importantly I followed those simple instructions and it led to success. The point behind the story is that my father knew I was somewhat smart and believed that if I put the time in I would have many options after graduation. I trusted him, and focused on this concept all the way through college. I never thought I could trick the system or that I would get lucky somehow and success would find me. I chose to take the simple route, which is usually the toughest route – disciplined hard work.
In our careers and in our personal lives we can usually point to simple concepts and proven ways of getting things done. If you want to get in better shape, eat better and work out. Simple right? Problem is that most of us try to trick the system and that is why the weight loss industry is a growing multi-billion dollar industry. In business if we need to increase sales the best way to do it is to talk to more customers and build relationships. This is where the focus should be and those that do it in the highest volume and with sincerity, will have the most success.
Leaders are expected to be innovative when it makes sense, but we are also expected to be disciplined and efficient. Which means our innovative efforts should be focused on new products, systems, and how we can improve serving customers. And for those things that have already been proven, we must keep ourselves and the team focused on doing what is most effective. Executing simple concepts requires discipline, hard work, and inspection, and going about it with a laser-like focus will lead to success more often than not.