Sunday, April 5, 2009

Systems Beat Effort (and Genius) Every Time!

A note from for Monday April 6 2009

Hello there folks and welcome to another shiny new week.

The road trip to the west of the country was just awesome. The weather leaving was just awful and with each mile to the west the temperatures lifted along with our spirits. We arrived in Kelowna to a day of +17 Celsius. Oh what bliss.

Let's get right into today's offering. Our friend Philip gets the week off on a highly relevant note.

Systems Beat Effort (and Genius) Every Time!
by Philip Humbert

This week Mary handed me a recent issue of AARP magazine and pointed to a wonderful article about country singer, Dolly Parton. Parton comes across as charming, down-home, friendly and incredibly determined. A strong person who achieved remarkable success on her own terms. I like that!

A quote that stood out for us was: "You're not going to see your dreams come true if you don't put wings, legs and arms, hands and feet on 'em," she says. "You gotta have people to help carry out those dreams, and, Lord, I've been surrounded by great people."

Obviously Parton phrases it in her unique way, but I was struck by how closely her words describe almost every high achiever I've worked with over the years. You need "wings, legs, arms, hands and feet" to make your dreams come true.

Effort and hard work, even Winston Churchill's famous "blood, sweat and tears," will never be enough. Clear plans, elegant strategies, strong partners and the magic of "wings" are the tools that create success. Systems and elegant strategies beat hard work, every time.

I'm reminded of the old story of the race between a tortoise and a hare. The rabbit takes off at top speed, obviously the likely winner, while the poor old tortoise lumbers along, far behind. But as you know, in the end the hare is distracted, fails to stay on track, celebrates too soon, and ultimately suffers a humiliating defeat to the poor, humble tortoise. The tortoise may not have style or panache, but he got the job done. That is success!

And, that reminds me of the true stories of self-made millionaires told by Stanley and Danko in their famous book, "The Millionaire Next Door." Self-made millionaires may not live flashy, dramatic lives, but they have plans, they work their plans, and they retire early and rich.

Now, part of the complexity of success is that it does require hard work, and usually, lots of it. Don't get me wrong! Plans and systems by themselves cannot substitute for the hard work of production. Hard work is part of it, but too often, in our eagerness we jump in and expect that our hard work, our passion or enthusiasm will carry the day. And unfortunately, it works just well enough to maintain the illusion that we have found "the answer," so we work even harder. We struggle, and try and wonder what went wrong. Why isn't our hard work being rewarded?

Learn from Dolly Parton. She's brilliant. She's passionate. She's determined. She's focused. She works very, very hard. Recently, when the major record companies didn't want to do her latest album, she formed her own company and went ahead without them. She's quoted (at age 63!), "I'll be making records if I have to sell them out of the trunk of my car. I've done that in the past and I'd do it again." Determination, focus and hard work are part of the success equation.

But as Parton says, it's also true that "you're not going to see your dreams come true if you don't put wings, legs and arms, hands and feet on 'em." You need systems, strategies, partners and leverage to achieve success.

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