Never enough … excellence, agility and importance
The idea behind Never Enough is neither perfection nor dissatisfaction. It’s about realizing that the goal is not to get through, but to “always look for more ways to make an impact”.
Mike Hayes, former commanding officer of Seal Team Two and a Fellow of the White House who works with both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, says Never Enough is about excellence in everything we do, To strive for agility and meaning. Adopting this mindset can “lead us all to live more full, more rewarding lives and to make the world a better place in our own ways.” Never enough is deliberately reaching our full potential.
At the individual level, we must never look like we are excellent enough and build our own skills in terms of knowledge and capacity, strength and control, and accountability and guidance.
At the team and organizational level, we must aim to never be agile enough and understand how we can switch between roles in order to best accomplish our missions, establish systems that lead to superior decisions, and how we keep our teams so flexible can and responsive as possible.
At the impact level, we need to act to never be meaningful enough and to know what makes the most difference to the people in our lives and in our communities, and possibly on an even greater scale.
Never excellent enough
Never excellent enough starts with knowing yourself and then having the will and drive to get the job done and stretch. “The hungriest people will indeed do whatever it takes, and they get better and better along the way.” It’s never easy. The discomfort lets you know that you are on the right track.
The way to get better over time is to know where we are not good enough, what aspects of our life are not satisfactory enough, and what goals we are pursuing are not the right ones.
Our reactions are critical. Hayes says he will take control of the raw intelligence. “The most intelligent SEAL is not the one with the greatest raw intelligence. It is the one who responds best and fastest to a problem. You want both intelligence and control, but control is very important in those stressful moments. “
In stressful circumstances, we as leaders need to be “the person who pulls others up, sets the tone, and keeps everyone else informed”. Here’s the bottom line:
We cannot and should not erase emotions from our lives. We cannot be good partners, friends, spouses and parents without emotions, without feelings, without vulnerability and real honesty. But neither can we be effective performers if we are unable to break down these feelings, if they are not helpful for the situation at hand.
Of course, humility is the key to never having enough excellence. It means putting others first in all things.
I had to be humble enough to let others take the lead when their skills were the ones we needed most right now and confident enough that I didn’t have to prove my worth and ultimately violate the mission by trying that doing what could be better handled by someone else.
Hayes adds, “You won’t be the most productive artist if you don’t have the right attitude towards the people around you.”
And that also applies when discipline is required. Discipline is not about you. “It’s about making people understand where they missed out, helping them to change their actions in the future and to change their perspective.” And remember:
If someone stays on the team, improve them. If they must go, let them go with dignity and thus make them an ally in the future.
Never agile enough
Agility is about awareness and flexibility to do what needs to be done to get the result you want. That requires that you can be both a leader and a follower. Hayes calls it “dynamic subordination”. He says, “In an effective team, we need to move forward and backward seamlessly, depending on the demands of the situation and the skills of the people around us. We are not tied to a particular job, task or pattern: we retain the flexibility to be what we need in the given circumstances. “
Dynamic submission also has a downside. If you are able to improve the lives of those around you, you will improve yourself. Always be ready to do what you can.
What contributes to agility is knowing how to think. Have a decision-making process that includes the broadest range of thoughts you can.
The specific knowledge you need is the easy part – anyone can learn this. But the details don’t matter if you don’t have the right process. And if you have the right process, you can go anywhere. That is why strong leaders can jump from one industry to another, from one organization to another.
Some rules need to be followed, others need to be broken. Agility means knowing what to do when. Hayes asks everyone to think on two levels: running and renovating. “You have to do the job (‘run’) in the moment, but you also need to figure out what may need to be changed to be most successful in the long run (‘renovate’).” However, running and renovating is about more than just making changes. It should become part of everything you do. “When you’re pushing a teammate – when you’re challenging something they’ve done or trying to start a tough conversation – you need to think about how you’re trying to influence (‘run’) them in the moment and how you’re doing it are trying to shape their future (‘renovate’). “
Never sensible enough
We all want to make sense of what we do and influence the lives of others. It starts with a belief system. Believe in something and start there. “The hard work is figuring out what the world needs and how it intersects with what feels most rewarding to you. Find out and it will be easy to actually do it. “
Influencing others means getting to know others and having deep conversations. Hayes lives by three principles in this regard: “being intrusive in people’s lives, being a doer rather than a bier, and pushing to have a real impact on those around me.” That doesn’t mean being rude or pushing the boundaries of others, but “we have to be ready to step in, ask the tough questions and have the tough conversations – or we don’t really make a difference.”
Being an agent for others means “doing specific things that change the lives of our friends, often at your own expense.” And influencing the lives of others also gives meaning to our own lives.
Never enough means it’s never over.
I think we can at the same time see how much we are accomplishing each day and also understand that our work is never getting done. Growth is always possible for each of us, ways in which we can push ourselves to become more excellent and agile and to fill our everyday lives with more meaning. There are more and more people whose lives we can touch, more people who we can uplift and inspire to get better and reach greater heights.
A great book is never enough. There is so much out there when it comes to reliable, balanced advice. His extensive experience – including serving as Navy SEAL, White House Fellow, Chief of Staff and COO at Bridgewater Associates, and Head of Strategic Operations at Cognizant Technologies – has enriched his knowledge.
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:14 AM
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