Want to be World Class?

Middle class is as American as apple pie. “Just surviving” is the goal of many businesses today. Being comfortable, “doing as well or better than most folks” is just fine. Unless you have the desire to be world class. I do. So here is what it takes.

A friend of mine, Rick Sutcliffe, invited our family to spring training one year. Rick had a successful professional baseball career– winning Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young award and numerous others. Today he is a color man for ESPN for MLB games. My son had a dream to play baseball…and he is still on track playing Division 1 Collegiate ball at Vanderbilt and just finishing playing summer ball in the renowned Cape Cod League. At the Padre training camp, Rick showed my son two doors, side by side into the clubhouse–one for major leaguers and the other for minor leaguers. He explained to my son that the difference between those who go in the door on the right (the major leaguers) and the door on the left, is how well they understood their weaknesses and how hard they worked to correct them. In other words, the champions were realistic, objective and driven.

Steve Siebold, author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class, has this to say, “Amateur performers operate from delusion, pros operate from objective reality. The great ones’ habits, actions and behaviors are totally congruent with the size and scope of their ultimate vision. That’s why we call them champions.”

It is human nature to give ourselves a bit more credit than we may deserve. In studies of work environments, when asked if the organizations employees should be graded on a bell curve, most will say yes; when asked what grade they deserved, 70% believed it would be a B or better. So who are the ones getting the C’s? Not us! Really?

So what can transform us as leaders and organizations into world class performance?

  • Start with an objective assessment of strengths and weaknesses; to ensure objectivity, ask others.
  • Have a clear vision for what you want to attain; my son had a basketball t-shirt that said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Focus and relentless pursuit of the goal is critical to making it happen and often proves successful.
  • Have a positive self image; believe in yourself. Emotional health experts believe too many of us, at our core, don’t think we are “good enough”. You can be your own worst enemy.
  • Be a continuous learner. Being open to new ideas helps world class performers envision bigger and more creative goals.
  • “If you are not part of the solution, you are are part of the problem.” Every one has problems–but world class people are not defeated by them and are energized by the opportunity to overcome. World class people focus on ideas.

Today, in my terminology, the “world class” leader and organization is a strategic leader who understands the world is changing, and that presents an opportunity to thrive and grow, not just to survive and accept status quo. Instead of working to stem the tide of change, embrace it and ride the new solutions to new heights. Questions about how? We would enjoy addressing them with you.

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