Thursday, December 10, 2009

All Heroes Have Heroes

My boss had just told me he was looking for my replacement. I had taken the company’s top office to the bottom of the 36-office chain in the three months I had been the manager.

Learn fast was the answer, but how? No time to join a college management class or try to find one seminar with all the answers. Were there answers around me that I wasn’t aware of? Yes, was the answer. “Don’t sit down in the meadow and wait for the cow to back up and be milked––go after the cow,” was the way a philosopher from a century ago put it. I launched my “cow hunt” by scouring local newspapers and magazines looking for stories of successful business leaders, perhaps someone who started out with nothing or led a turnaround in a company. When such a person was found, I called him or her, told them my failure story and my determination to rebuild and invited them to lunch. My motto was “Take somebody to lunch before somebody else eats yours.” My learning curve and action curves went way up.

With the help of these one-on-one mentor lunches, seminars I attended and books that I devoured we were back up to #1 in 120 days.

Caution: When contentment in the way you’re doing your job sets in, progress stops. Habit’s goal is to freeze you at your current level of competence. Remedy? Keep learning.

Develop a custom designed personal growth curriculum. Begin by asking yourself two very important questions. Be sure to take notes so you can use this as your growth plan.

1. If I could spend ten days on the beach with ten great people that I could REALLY learn from, one person per day (living or dead) whom would I pick?

2. To help me focus my learning, what’s the one thing I find most interesting about each one?

NOTE: The question is not “What’s the one thing they have in common?”

Remember these are not your ten favorite celebrities but people you can really learn from.

Take your spouse or a good friend out for dinner and play this two-question exercise. See if you can

guess three of their ten. There’s a great victory if you know three of theirs.

Now start researching on the Internet for each of your ten. Take notes. How about books on your heroes? Maybe documentaries.

Once you’ve learned all you can remove, that name and replace it with another.

If you’re involved in this with someone who knows you well, you’ll find conversations become very interesting as each of you reveal what you’ve learned from the heroes.

There is a legend that “when God was equipping man for his long life journey of exploration, the attendant angel was about to add the gift of contentment and complete satisfaction. The Creator stayed her hand––“No, He said, “If you bestow that upon him you will rob him forever of all joy of self-discovery.”

Higher up and farther on! The best is yet to be!