One of my favorite magazines is Men’s Health. If I were a business owner, I’d buy a subscription to Men’s Health or Women’s Health for every one of my employees.
In a recent issue, 24-year-old center-fielder for the Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, was interviewed about breaking into the big leagues in a big way. Jacoby’s insight into what makes for success is very mature given his age, but not surprising given his accomplishments. After just being brought up from the minors, he batted .438 in the World Series last year. Here’s Ellsbury’s formula:
- Upgrade your work ethic. “You have to be painfully honest with yourself. Did you work as hard as you could have today?” This appears to cut against today’s mantra of work smarter, not harder. I’ve found from my experience that there’s no substitute for hard work. Hard work doesn’t mean spending 10 hours doing work you should have done in eight. Hard work means a concentrated effort — giving 100% every moment. We’ve all had the personal experience of getting more done in a half of a day than in a full day. When properly motivated, there’s no greater pleasure than putting in a hard day’s work.
- Make yourself irreplaceable. Whatever’s asked of you, do it well. You never know when the big opportunity is going to show up. By constantly showing your work ethic with low-level activities, you’ll build the trust necessary to take on the bigger ones. Says Ellsbury, “Show up every day and bust your butt and people will not only respect you, but start to rely on you too.”
- Turn your weakness into your strength. Ellsbury wanted to improve his strength. Fact is, we can’t rely on the company to do our training for us. We know where we can improve ourselves and we have to make a commitment to doing so. Perhaps your weakness is time management or understanding what other departments do in your company. Whatever it is, devote an hour a week to improving it — and watch your total worth soar.
- Shatter records. Create a personal benchmark: Prospecting calls this week, customer satisfaction rating, or one of many others. If you’re an HR That Works subscriber, look at the Benchmarking Worksheet in the Personnel Forms and you’ll get plenty of ideas. As the saying goes, “You get what you focus on.” Focus on creating new standards for yourself and you’ll become ever more successful.
All the above is plain common sense, but we need to continually revisit it. Winners don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. So do the most successful executives I’ve met. You can do it, too!