Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Three Skills of “Ordinary” Genius

A note from for Monday September 15 2008

Welcome to yet another outstanding late summer week.

I’m very excited today as we get to have a sneak peak at our friend Warren Wojnowski’s new program The Inspired Science of Getting Rich.

The event is going to take place by conference call this evening and you should be there. Here’s the details.

Tonight Monday 15th September 2008
7:00pm EST (6:00pm CST, 5:00pm MST, 4:00pm PST)
Call into: 1-269-615-6500
Pin number: 215289#

Come and have some fun. You’ll be glad you did.

Now, on with today’s offering. As is becoming regular, our friend Philip sets us out on this week with a perspective that is highly worthy of time.

Don't forget to check out how our friend's over at Daily Insight are starting out their week

The Three Skills of “Ordinary” Genius
by Philip Humbert

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that "it's the little things" that make all the difference. Many people wrote to say how helpful that was and asked me to write more about it. I'm convinced that a great life is rarely built on a brilliant flash of inspiration or one profound insight. More often great lives are built by ordinary people, doing ordinary things, extraordinarily well.

Do you remember the old cliché that even the rich and famous "put their pants on one leg at a time?" I've always loved that insight. It gives me a sense of power and freedom and boosts my self-esteem. It gives me a chance to be "just like" my heroes.

This week I read Stephen Ambrose' biography of President Eisenhower. Obviously, "Ike," was one of the great heroes of World War II and arguably one of our better presidents. But he wasn't "brilliant" in terms of IQ. He was in the middle of his class ("average") at West Point, and no one saw him as a unique talent. Ambrose makes the comment that if one fortuitous promotion that sent him to work in Washington had gone differently, "the world would never have heard of Col. Eisenhower." How true! And, in a wonderful way, how inspiring!

Eisenhower did have three great gifts, but they were "ordinary" gifts that you and I can learn and apply in our lives.

First, he worked very, very hard. He was up early, stayed late, immersed himself in each task until it was done right and on time. His "genius" was the "ordinary genius" of dedication, duty and discipline. I may not be able to copy that exactly, but I can certainly learn from it. I can do my best and appreciate the results of "out working the competition."

The second of Eisenhower's great skills was his ability to focus on things that mattered! Many of us work hard. In fact, I often argue that many of us work too hard because our time, our energy and our focus is on things that don't really matter. We "sweat the small stuff." Ike never did that. Even his critics acknowledged his gift for calmly assessing a situation and spotting the "leverage point" that would make all the difference.

Here's an example. For six months before D-Day, June 6th 1944, he made a point to meet with his chief meteorologist every single day. He knew that guns and ships and strategy were all important, but ultimately the invasion would depend on the weather and he wanted to assess the skills of his chief forecaster. In the end, on a stormy night with rain pelting against the windows, he made the decision to "go" because he trusted his weatherman. He knew he would get a 6-hour window of clearing weather and that was all he needed. The course of the war changed over-night because Ike focused on the weather and knew his meteorologists could be trusted.

Finally, Eisenhower insisted on choosing the right people and relying on them. He frequently refused to work with people if they were unreliable or ineffective. He wanted the best people around him. Notably, after giving the order to "go" on June 5th, Ike went to bed. There was literally nothing more for him to do! All the orders, all the staff work, all the plans were in capable hands and his work (for the moment) was done. He didn't try to do it all himself. He chose good people, delegated responsibility and trusted that the right things would be done, in the right way, at the right time.

For me, there is great hope in this! Eisenhower wasn't some unique genius beyond my ability to comprehend. To the contrary, much of his achievement came from knowing three basic skills that I (or anyone) can learn. He worked hard. He could identify the key leverage points. He chose to work and associate with the best people he could find, and he trusted them. I can do this, and so can you.

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