The difference between success and failure

is the difference between knowing and doing. 

This idea was proven to me this morning as I got dressed and realized that my favorite suit had shrunk. While I could still button the jacket, it’s really tight. I couldn’t figure out how something that looked so good two years ago could fit so poorly now. What was the difference? Knowing and doing. 

Of course, suits don’t shrink. Something else had changed.

A few years ago, I got really excited about getting into shape. I researched, read and studied the most effective way to get my health in order and to drop body fat. God knows I needed to. At 335 lbs, I didn’t look well, I didn’t feel well and probably most importantly, I didn’t perform well. I pulled information from everywhere together, learned what I needed to do, made a plan and got to work. I changed the way I ate. I changed the way I exercised. I changed the way I slept. In the end, it changed my life as I lost 100lbs and never felt better in my life.  I gave away all of my fat clothes and bought new ones. I had burned the ships so I couldn’t go back. I was proud of my newly found discipline and how all of this new knowledge had impacted me. That’s when I bought my favorite suit. I looked good, felt good and most importantly, my performance was good.  Today this suit doesn’t really fit and it took me a while to figure out why. It’s tough because I still know all of the things that I knew when I got healthy. I know how I should eat, how I should train and how I should sleep. I have all of the knowledge it takes to look, feel and perform my best. It’s added up to a suit that doesn’t fit because I haven’t been doing.  This is a simple, embarrassing, and true story that highlights something really big with leaders today. Just like me when it comes to the simple disciplines that helped me get healthy, leaders know how to deal with difficult people. Leaders know how to establish credibility. Leaders know how to make people feel important. The problem in most cases isn’t that the leaders need more knowledge, it’s that they need to DO WHAT THEY KNOW.

Knowledge Isn’t Enough

That’s where the difference between knowing and doing becomes such a challenge. We live in a world where knowledge has never been easier to secure. We can get books everywhere. YouTube brings thought leaders to your fingertips. Blogs and online articles fill our social media channels. We’ve never known more than we know now and in many cases, turnover has never been higher, employee engagement has never been lower and the need for true leadership has never been greater. We know enough. It’s time to do. 

 

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Axios News has obtained a copy of President Trump’s private schedule and people are shocked to learn that he spends as much as 60% of his time in what his schedule refers to as “Unstructured Executive Time”. While I am in no going to make an endorsement, one way or the other about our President, I will fully endorse the idea of executive time. Here’s why:

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It’s Been Proven Effective

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There are those quick to bash President Trump because so much unstructured time is thought to be time wasted. If he has time to watch television or read a newspaper, he should be using that time to get something more important accomplished. Those same people probably don’t know that Warren Buffett who is touted by both sides of the political spectrum as a great leader, spends the majority of his time reading. In fact, a recent article from Inc.com declared that he had nothing on his calendar that week except a haircut. Effective CEO’s effective because they use unstructured time to develop and decompress.

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We Aren’t Paid For Effort   

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There’s a huge misconception that leaders must be busy at every moment of every day. This is because, we as a society have confused effort with accomplishment. With all due respect to anyone who believes any President is paid for their time, they aren’t. They’re paid for accomplishment. If you’re able to accomplish big things in a smaller window, shouldn’t you? We as leaders aren’t paid for the time we put in, we’re paid for the results we produce. Accomplishment is much more important than effort. 

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Leaders Need Space To Think

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Ideas and creativity are born out of white space. If we’re shuffling from phone call to phone call or meeting to meeting, there’s no time think and reflect on what’s going well and what we can improve. When we’re in the shit, if you’ll excuse my language, with a full calendar, all of our focus is on getting through it. We can’t schedule great ideas. All leaders need time to ponder, to read and reflect. To learn from others as well as ourselves. If you look at your calendar and find big blocks of white space, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if were using it to develop and grow. If we’re wasting it on social media, that might be another story, but using white space to ponder is where innovation comes from. 

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It Might Not Be Popular…

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As much as it may seem otherwise, this is not a defense of the President. I’ve never gotten political with this blog and I don’t intend to now, but it truly is a defense of executive time. Understanding that the most effective leaders in any given industry use their white space as tool to become better, that we’re not paid for effort but rather for accomplishment and that all leaders need space to think, can make us not only more productive, but more effective as well. Executive time might not be a popular idea in the media today, but great leaders know it’s a big key to getting things done. 

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