Purpose is the engine that drives elite performance. Clearly defined goals are the tools that make achievement of purpose possible. Elite employees can tell you where they are going, how long it will take them to get there and what steps they will take along the way.
After managing a couple hundred people, I’ve noticed that elite employees are hard to find. This may be because elite employees have the mentality of elite athletes, even from their first endeavor. They know what they want and they shoot for the stars.
But in life we don’t get what we wish for. We get what we work for. To be successful, you must pursue your goals relentlessly, regardless of what others may think. To try is to risk failure — the greatest hazard you will face. The safe path would be to risk nothing. But the athlete who risks nothing, does nothing, learns nothing and has nothing.
I’ve experienced both good and bad employees, and how their actions towards work differ. Here are some rules that elite employees follow — mostly intuitively — on their journey towards goal attainment:
Rule 1: Live the Journey
This is the process of becoming who and what you want to be. You will appreciate things you achieve in your life in direct proportion to the price you pay for them.
As you travel this road, you learn much about who you are and how you can continue to achieve certain goals throughout your life. This journey is about the growth of you as an individual, not about the firsts, seconds or thirds. These will come as you remain focused on attainment. It’s something far more inwardly rewarding.
Rule 2: Defeat Doubt
Defeat doubt through belief. Action cures fear. Imagination and thoughts determine your future reality.
As Bryce Courtenay says in his book The Power of One, “The Power of One is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated. The mind is the employee. The body is simply the means it uses to run faster, jump higher or perform better. Only a sustained and invincible belief in yourself will allow you to maintain your integrity and achieve the goals you have set for yourself.”
Don’t hold yourself back because you haven’t done something before. If you believe you can do something, you probably can.
Rule 3: Don’t Get Stuck in the Muck
Quite simply, this means staying focused. Once you begin the journey, see it through to the end. Show grit. Three important factors to consider:
- Attraction: Focus on what you want and move towards it with drive and determination. Exhibit an unwavering work ethic.
- Distraction: Know what you don’t like and move away from it.
- Reflection: Objectively assess what you have to change to reach the top.
Rule 4: Embrace Problems
If you don’t have any problems, then your goals might be too small. Realize that if what you are trying to achieve was easy, everyone would be doing it and it wouldn’t be special. The problems you will face represent opportunities in that they identify areas for you to grow. In the end, you will appreciate your victories substantially more due to the work you put into overcoming them.
Rule 5: Lead Rather Than Follow
If you are doing what everyone else is doing, you will end up where everyone else is going. Elite employees are willing to do what most other employees are not. In other words, it takes someone special to be someone special. Ask yourself this question: Are you doing enough to “just get by,” or are you actively investing in getting better?
Rule 6: Find Champions for Your Cause
Realize that in order to reach your pinnacle you need help along the way. You need direction, reassurance, resources and maybe even someone to light your path. You must surround yourself with people who believe in you. Find individuals who will champion your cause.
Although goals provide the motivation — and form the reason and incentive — that directs our activity, it is the work we put in that makes us great. The best employees know this, and invest in themselves to move step by step closer to their goals.