Friday, February 15, 2013

Dinner With a Linchpin


success dinner
photo credit: 27147 via photopin cc
In SethGodin's Linchpin, he describes those who become indispensable to such a degree, their organizations cannot live without them. They approach work as an art form, whether they be accountants, lawyers or stay at home moms. I had what was supposed to be a casual catching up dinner with one such individual a few nights ago. Let's call her "Michelle."Soon, dinner morphed into a 5-hour training session on success, and I held on to every word like a student at the feet of a wise professor. The following are the key takeaways from our conversation.

Know Your Values and Do Not Compromise Them

Understanding who you are and what you stand for is critical to becoming a linchpin. Otherwise, you may find yourself parroting the values of others and becoming uncomfortable in the process.

One of Michelle's values is to never judge a person based on hearsay. She insists on forming her own opinions after direct interaction, which protects her from the biases and ulterior motives of third party accounts. This has earned her credibility and the respect of her colleagues.

Be Clear on What You Want and Know How to Articulate It

When the CEO invited Michelle for lunch and asked her what she wanted in her next position, without hesitation Michelle rattled off her three most important requirements, which all play to her core strengths. The CEO replied, "I have the perfect position for you." Michelle is now the senior vice president of this major corporation and answers only to the CEO.

Could you be as concise if asked the same question? Most people cannot because they are not acquainted enough with themselves.

Michelle has a clear understanding of who she is, what she's good at and what she's not.

Confront the Things You Fear Most

We hear this advice often, but Michelle goes a few steps further than most. She has an intense fear of heights and decided to stare it down.

She went to the tallest building in the United States, the 108 story Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago and entered the skydeck. This is a glass box on the 103rd floor that extends out more than 4 feet from the building.

willis tower skydeck
photo credit: Jackman Chiu via photopin cc

But this wasn't enough. She routinely presses herself against the tall glass windows on the upper floors of her office building and stares at the streets below.

Any person willing to take on their biggest personal fears will make mince meat of the daily challenges of work and business. It gives them a renewed sense of invincibility and courage to tackle circumstances most shy away from. This puts them in a class all their own, for in the realm of the extra mile there is very little competition.

Be a Student of Life

Michelle described an encounter with a colleague who is known for being difficult. Although there was no immediate resolution to the disagreement, she told this coworker she learned a lot during the conversation. She even thanked him afterward.

Some use similar tactics to gracefully exit tough encounters, but Michelle was sincere. She explained to me in detail what she learned from the encounter.

Be Willing to Hustle

Sometimes while in pursuit of your objectives, you may do work you don't like. She described some of the difficult days of her journey and said, "You just have to hustle, even if it means passing out phone books."

With a clear vision and big goals, temporary setbacks cannot deter her. While others second-guess themselves while in the mist of temporary defeats, she sees them as part of the journey and learns from the experiences. Nothing can stop her hustle.

So, if you feel stuck or are in a rut, take the time to get acquainted with yourself. Know your values, be clear on what you want, confront your biggest fears and hustle.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

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