What Separates Excellence from Mediocrity
We all have 8,766 hours in a year. No individual or organization gets more hours. The playing field of time is even, no exceptions. So, if everyone and everything is given the same amount of time to accomplish goals and make an impact, then what separates the great from the mediocre? Why does one person achieve excellence, while another never seems to get ahead? Why does one organization beat the odds, while another may file for bankruptcy? The answer, execution.
Ideas are plenty, execution is rare. Everyone’s got an idea, but very few have the courage and persistence to execute. I’m reminded of this while I watch my 74-year-old father struggle with technology as he helps me monitor and adjust my finances with my speaking business. I approached my dad last year and asked for his help to manage my finances. My idea was simple, I needed to figure out my finances and my dad was a successful businessman. He understands numbers and he understands success. Why not have him help me with my finances as my cash flow and expenses increase? I bought my dad a computer, gave him access to my checking and credit card accounts and asked him to monitor the cash flow and help me with budgeting.
Dad struggled. He didn’t struggle with my finances, he struggled with the technology. He didn’t know how to use the wireless mouse, how to operate a Mac laptop, how to navigate the software, websites, and digital spreadsheets. He didn’t even have WiFi at home, so he had to go to the local McDonalds to access WiFi to login and manage my finances. The technology was a barrier and so my dad spent hours trying to figure it out and constantly texted and called for advice and guidance on how to utilize the technology. He asked tons of questions, apologized for his learning curve, but never complained and never quit, he just executed. He didn’t have to help me, he didn’t have to sit in that McDonalds for hours struggling to work through the technology, but he did it, because he knew I needed help to execute my business. He understood the value in execution. He understood his role and what it meant to me, so he just figured it out, which is why he’s a success.
My dad, like many people and organizations of success, have a history of success and failure. My dad made plenty of mistakes, but he also made his share of great decisions. The key is he executed daily and persevered through the difficulties life presented him.
We all have the same time; however, our time is not always equal. I understand some struggle more than others. I recently made a new friend, Tom, a paraplegic athlete training for the 2020 Paralympic Games in hand cycling. He suffered a tragic crash on his bicycle a few years ago that left him paralyzed from his chest down. It took him three hours to take his first shower on his own. How long does it take you? He struggled with simple tasks, like getting out of bed, putting his clothes on, and a myriad of basic tasks we all take for granted. He endured his struggles, because he sought independence. He wanted to learn to live his life not dependent on others to care for him. His idea was independence, the hard part was the execution. His first shower took him three hours, but over time, he figured out ways to drastically cut the time it took to clean himself, and the other life tasks required just to get ready for work.
Tom is fit, he’s married, gainfully employed, publicly speaking and sharing his story, raising money for charities, and has a real shot to represent the U.S. in the next Paralympics. He’s doing it all without the use of his legs and with countless obstacles that you and I could never fully appreciate. He does this with the same amount of time we all have and a myriad of valid excuses that could hold him back, but he still succeeds despite the constraints of his body and the constraints of time, because he’s learned to execute.
My dad struggles with technology, yet he succeeds. Tom struggles without the use of his legs and limited use of his hands, yet he succeeds, why? Because both my dad and Tom went beyond ideas and executed on those ideas with the same amount of time that you and I have as well. If you’re failing and you feel you just don’t have the time, then rethink your approach. Why are you failing to execute? Are you afraid? Are you unorganized? Do you need assistance? Execution is not pretty and is often painful, ask my new friend, Tom! You can succeed if you go beyond your ideas and begin the process of executing on your ideas. What can you do today to move your life forward?