Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Get Smart

At a recent speaking engagement I was asked what advice I could share relating to proverbial keys to success, I offered two key words. Get Smart.

 Not without fault or areas of improvement, the recommendation for getting smart is derived from the many failures & successes we’ve achieved over two decades of business.

  1. smart thinking. Smart thinking is the ability to formulate one’s own thoughts vs. following the opinions of others. This advice is not to be mistaken for disregarding advice of those who’ve achieved the same or higher levels of success as you aspire to, rather the innate ability to think for yourself vs. following trends & fads. Following the trends & fads doesn’t put you at the front of the line and to be successful, you need to be at (or very near) the front of the line.
  2. smart decisions. Smart thinking normally leads to smart decisions. These are decisions that rely on intuition, experience & input over impulse & emotion. Impulse & emotion can adversely affect smart decisions. An example, a smart decision is to continually surround yourself with those who are as smart or smarter than you in terms of experience &/or theoretical knowledge.  Stands to reason the smarter you become, the greater the need to be in the company of those with greater success acumen.  
  3. smart investment. Smart investment spans beyond financial placement to include the investment of time, energy & focus. Given the amount of distractions and market for pushing goods, each investment should be thought out short / medium & long term prior to jumping in. We all loathe waste of time, money and energy investments, many of which could have been avoided with smart decisions and smart thinking.  
  4. smart execution. Smart execution is carefully planned, methodical and consistent through any habit, craft or task. The quote if I had 4hrs to chop down the tree, I’d take the first 3hrs to sharpen the axe is more than appropriate in describing smart execution. Many will confuse hard execution eg: hacking, sweating & laboring through a task as smart execution. The two are different and unfortunately most people are consistently inconsistent which only delays their arrival at success. 
  5. smart leadership. Smart leadership is the ability to attract, lead & empower smart followership to become smart thinking – decision making – investing – executing - leaders. Great leadership is as obvious as  leaving an organization, post or position in as good as or better standing than you found it in. Great leadership is at a premium because it relies on the values of selflessness, sacrifice and more often than not swimming against the grain in a me centric society.

The get smart advice isn’t rocket science. It can be applied  to an eight year old looking for success on a house league hockey team, a high school sophomore finding success through teenage temptations or an entry level articling student aspiring to be successful in their new job. 

We need more examples of getting smart highlighted in order to model the behavior and improve our overall quality of life and chances at success. 

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