As we begin 2015, we at SGEi, like many of you, are taking a few moments (okay more than a few) defining what success will look like for the New Year. While, I will not bore you with our goals, I did want to take a few moments to talk about what will ensure our success, because just maybe it will influence yours.
We work with an amazing team of trainers, coaches, designers and logistic managers who work across the globe making a difference with some of the most recognized hospitality, retail, professional sports, entertainment and real estate brands there are. This week we are hosting our team in Las Vegas, and I think about what makes them and us successful.
The same thinking applies to many of the hotel owners I met last year as part of Resort Rescue, some executives we coached, and managers we have had the opportunity to work with as a team.
On the show and with media, I found myself repeating one statement over and over again. The executives and managers we work with were probably sick of my repeated line. Regardless of the audience, the message by the end of year was clear; if you want success, three key elements or traits that we all control must be present and in play.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many factors that influence one’s success, but I believe they can all be traced back to the presence of these three characteristics within a person. I believe you create your own luck, make things happen for yourself, and attract others to help you or invest in you if you exhibit a sense of passion, exert a lot of effort, and are willing to become an expert at what you do. It is the presence of these three traits that define the best coaches and trainers we work with, the best managers we partner with, and the people who inspire us every day.
Success begins with passion.
You have to love what you do, or the outcomes of what you do. Now, you might be able to point out successful people who do not necessarily love what they do, but let’s ensure we are defining success beyond just making a lot of money. I have met many wealthy individuals who, while successful in business, are miserable in the process. They have mastered the other two traits, but the lack of passion is what creates regret everyday. We are hearing more and more stories of business people who are leaving well-paid jobs and careers to seek out their passions and true loves.
While we are generally better in our personal lives at surrounding ourselves with those things, activities and people we love, in our professional lives we have not mastered it. Most of us spend more time on our professional endeavors, and yet it is generally the thing we are least passionate about—this is crazy. If you do not love what you do, go and find what you do love. Make this a constant checkpoint for what you do, because it the biggest influence on how you do it.
Success requires vast amounts of energy, and the internal passion you have for someone or something is one of your greatest sources of energy. On the show last year, I met a few hotel owners who just did not have passion or love for what they do—which is to take care of people. Unfortunately, we see this all the time in the service business; staff responsible for taking care of customers, and yet all they do is frustrate, confuse and anger them. We meet many managers who do the same to their staff. As a result, customers continuously seem to be on the losing end of bad customer service.
Passion drives effort. When you are a customer receiving no effort from the person on the other end of the phone, or the other side of the counter, you know that this person is doing a job, not because they want to, but because they have to. Last year there was more than one resort owner whom we gave the advice to sell the business. Why? The owner didn’t love it, nor was this person willing to bring in a general manager who would love it. As a result, the staff, their customers, and the reputation of the resort were all suffering. Talk about a lose-lose situation.
One of the reasons our team stands out with our partners and us is their passion and love for what they do. What do they do? They inspire our clients to think and do things a little differently in an effort to deliver better customer experiences. Passion matters—it is one of the most attractive traits in a person; because let’s face, we all like to feel that thrilling passion or love, even when it is not our own.
As Philosopher Denis Diderot wrote, “Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.” Your passions will help elevate you to great success, in part because if drives your efforts.
Success requires effort.
I know, we have heard this since we were children, but many still choose to ignore it. One of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King reads, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’” Regardless of what you do, always strive to be the best at it, and remember that it takes effort.
I often hear people bemoan their lack of success. It is always interesting how many complainers are the same people who are not willing to put in the effort to get it.
During the show last year I was reminded how hard it is to run a small hotel, and of the effort required. Many of the hoteliers we met worked 12-16 hour days, six and seven days a week, 365 days a year. We met one couple that had not taken a vacation in 27 years. There was no doubting their effort, and it was a helpful reminder that if you want something to happen, then it is often up to you to make it happen.
Many of our trainers are on the road every week leaving family and loved ones behind, moving from hotel to hotel, driving long miles or jumping on flights. It is definitely not easy. It gets even harder when they put all their passion and effort into helping a client or business that ends up not wanting to be helped. The frustrations are endless. We applaud their efforts, and all those hard working people who make sacrifices to make it happen every day. But without passion, the effort required to be successful is just that much harder, and your sacrifices are often most regrettable.
If you love what you do and are willing to work very hard at what you do, you are on the way to success, but these traits alone do not guarantee success. In business especially, without expertise you will not get the success you are looking for, and more importantly, the money you deserve.
Success necessitates expertise.
To be an expert you must be able to stand up in front of a group of complete strangers and have the confidence and belief that your message, your ideas or your work can help, inspire or change people’s thoughts, habits and even lives.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Outliers that you must to invest over 10,000 hours into something to become an expert. Whether or not this is the exact amount, I absolutely agree that expertise requires research, practice, thoughtful consideration, discussion, trial and error, mistakes and talking. It takes time.
The reason so many of the resorts I visited on the show last year needed “rescuing” is that they lacked expertise in what they were doing. They had the passion, put in the effort, and yet they still failed, because they did not take it upon themselves to become experts or to surround themselves with people who were.
One of my favorite quotes on expertise comes from educational theorist Tom Hopkins who wrote, “You are your greatest asset; put your time, effort and money into training, grooming and encouraging your greatest asset.” Invest in becoming an expert and developing the innate strengths and talents you have. Your investment in learning, in becoming an expert, will pay your greatest dividend, because people pay more for experts.
Our trainers and coaches often work in industries where they have limited expertise on the subject matter. When we started our largest automotive project, there were few of us familiar with the industry or business. Yet, I am always impressed by our trainers and coaches as they immerse themselves into a business and brand by reading, visiting, testing and learning everything they can until they understand that business better than those who work in it on a day-to-day basis. Now that’s impressive!
As you contemplate success in 2015, do a quick inventory of your love for what you do, how much effort you are ready to commit to your cause, and whether you are doing enough to be a true expert at what you do. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done before.”
As this is posted, we are delivering the same message to our SGEi team at our annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We are also recognizing them for their passion, effort and expertise. Remember to do the same; whether it is your staff, your peers, your friends, your children or your partner, make sure you recognize them when these three traits come together, because you might just be the catalyst, reminder or pick up they need to deliver success in 2015. As Mark Twain once said, “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
So, here’s to your success this year! As always, if this message resonates with you, pass it on. Always remember to share your insights, even if they are not your own, with those who might need it more than you.