In order to grow and succeed – to contribute to the growth of those around us - one cannot do only what has been assigned (regardless of how well each individual assignment is performed). Looking back towards where we have been rather than ahead towards where we wish to be – remaining content with the present rather than building upon it as a springboard to the future by doing what works as opposed to seeking what might work better – are signs of a life in stagnation. If one wishes to achieve “the possible” rather than being content to accomplish only those things that have already been done, the thoughts, ideas and abilities of others must be incorporated into our individual dreams of the future to enhance and transform “what is” into “what could be.” In order to ensure that such transformation can occur we must:
1) Understand the difference between efficiency with effectiveness. An e-mail may be efficient, but a conversation might more effectively resolve an issue without extended “replies and clarifications.” Effective individuals make sure that every investment of time and/or energy has a direct and measurable impact – they accomplish things that need doing in order to move forward – and do them well – rarely wasting time or energy doing unnecessary things that “might be nice” but are not related to the accomplishment of their objectives. Efficient individuals accomplish all things well whether or not they serve to advance their cause or move them towards a defined objective. An immediate e-mail communication may efficiently promote conversation but might not effectively resolve an issue.
2) Recognize that NOBODY is irreplaceable. If an individual feels that nobody could EVER do what he or she does, that person has probably (unknowingly) limited what he or she can accomplish. When we feel nobody could ever do the things we do as well as we do them – and accept that as an unwavering paradigm – we become so enamored with our abilities that we fail to identify our possibilities. If nobody else can do (or even wishes to try doing) what you can then you will never advance beyond the rung of the ladder upon which you have firmly positioned yourself – potentially poised for greatness but unable to progress from where you are to where you wish to be.
3) Acknowledge that you MAY NOT know all the answers. Though it may seem that whatever some do or say is right – that any direction they take turns out to be the path that is chosen – nobody has the experience or abilities to make all the right decisions regardless of the situation, environment or time-frame. In reality, people knowing how to think through all the possibilities so they can ask the right questions are much more valuable than those who feel they are able to give all the right answers. One must always be open to new ideas, techniques, and ways of doing things. We can truly contribute to our organization’s success and profitability – or experience all that life could offer – ONLY after identifying the limitations of current systems, policies, practices or procedures by asking questions about how they might be improved. Nothing will change, however, until we decide to act – to move forward by implementing the answers received of the questions we ask (rather than doing things as we have always done them because we think we know all the answers ourselves).
4) ALWAYS give credit to others. People recognizing and acknowledging the ideas and actions of others tend to share a never-ending ride to the success (and glory) – enjoying a seemingly unlimited potential “upside” while tempering their individual “downside” risk. Those that take credit for another’s ideas had better like themselves a lot because they may not have supportive friends to prop them up in the future.
5) Add to existing abilities and upgrade outdated skills while refusing to accept “what is” as “what will always be.” What was once necessary to maintain a life-long job or to enjoy a long-lasting relationship is no longer sufficient. Employees who refuse to learn new skills or different ways of doing things typically fail to grow – those who refuse to retrain may not remain. Unless an individual brings more into a relationship than he or she could ever expect it to return – is willing to give another more than is taken (unconditionally and without expectations), seeking to gain more by sharing than by receiving – he or she will never realize the treasures awaiting them beyond their current reality.
While we may be able to start a race on our own, we need the help, support and efforts of those around us to finish. Life is not a sprint – it is a marathon. To accomplish much, we must give much. To receive support from those around us we must first encourage and support their individual growth. To rise to the top – to finish the race – we must not only build the foundation upon which we stand (so that we are firmly rooted in our convictions) but we must accept the encouragement and support of those around us as we grow – recognizing both our ability AND our need to change – if we seek to “travel where no one has previously gone” in order to achieve that which has not been previously accomplished.