FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | Private Victory
A couple weeks ago I finished my second marathon. My effort was nothing terribly notable, except that I was hoping to beat my first time by a significant margin. I did. I ran 15 minutes faster than my first.
However, my time is discouraging when I compare it to my potential. I’ve only been a runner for about 3 years; I know I have plenty of room for improvement. Plus, I know how fast other guys my same age and build are running. Scores of them are significantly faster than I am. For example, I came in 174th place in my age group (out of 416). The guy who took second place in the marathon OVERALL was one year older than me! Now that’s something to strive for.
So what’s the best way to improve? Compare myself to me or compare myself to others? I think the answer is both.
Often in business we compare ourselves to the rest of the field. How are the top players in our industry faring. Where is our market share? How fast are we growing? Are we number one? There is healthy competition that can motivate an entire organization to rally behind significant revenue and growth goals, in pursuit of that top prize.
Then again, it’s also important that we don’t just settle for being on top of the heap. Oh sure, it feels good to be in first place. But we should also compare ourselves against our own potential. When we don’t, we could be settling for good enough instead of becoming our very best.
Living The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a tried and true method of balancing both approaches to success. The Private Victory is represented by the first three Habits of Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and Put First Things First. These lead me to mastery over self. Coupled with the Public Victory of Habits 4, 5 and 6, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand…, and Synergize, they permit me to collaborate with others in a way that differentiates our collective performance, allowing us to stand apart from the crowd and achieve our very best.
So, I suppose the next marathon I’m running in May 2011 will give me a chance to test this theory. My focus during training: Keep one eye on pushing for ever-faster splits and pace while training my other eye on the pace of those who ran the same race last year.
Ask yourself: In what ways can I and my organization learn from the successes of our competition? Where are we not testing our potential, because we’ve become complacent with “good enough?”
Undoubtedly the principles that are taught in our curriculum – such as responsibility, planning, follow-through, abundance, listening, collaboration, trust, etc. – become even more relevant during times of economic retraction. Most organizations have felt the pinch of our economy, in some way or another. It has translated into palpable nervousness for many associates who are increasingly more unsure about their future. I can’t help but revisit an early theme I shared in my first blog posting – that living these principles is the answer to recession-proofing one’s career.
However, as I reflect further on the deliberate arrangement of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as organized in the Maturity Continuum model, I can’t help but recognize the correlation that exists between the Private and Public Victories and what businesses expect from their employees during these tumultuous times.
Consider this. The Private Victory is about me. Not me, as in Todd, but me as in everyone. Be Proactive, Begin With the End in Mind, Put First Things First. I am completely and 100% in charge of whether or not I live these first three habits. I can turn them on and I can turn them off. I alone am in control of the level of effectiveness I wish to experience by taking responsibility, formulating a plan for my life, my year, my week, my day, and executing that plan in the face of constant distractions. There is tremendous gratification that comes from working a well-thought out plan and reaping its rewards. One benefits personally and is in a position to do more for himself, as well as others.
On the other hand, living out the Public Victory – Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand…, and Synergize – require at least some cooperation from others. The Public Victory requires, well, the public! I can do everything right to get my own “shop” in order, but if my co-worker doesn’t want to work well with me, a Public Victory can be easily compromised. It takes an inordinate amount of effort to convince others (especially if they themselves haven’t achieved a Private Victory of their own) to think abundantly, to truly empathize with all parties, and to painstakingly work toward collaborative solutions that represent the 3rd Alternative.
Therefore, I must recognize more and more that living the Private Victory is simply the lowest possible threshold my employer is willing to accept among potential job candidates who are seeking employment. What differentiates me from the pack is going to be my ability to bring people together and actively work toward interdependence and the Public Victory every day of the week! My ability to synergize is what will differentiate my performance from the next “B-level” player who is only concerned about excellence in his or her own work.
In other words, living ALL seven of the habits completely is much more likely to ensure future opportunity and security than just doing my own thing and staying out of the way. More and more, potential employers are only willing to take a candidate seriously, if he or she can demonstrate what it takes to bring out the best in themselves and everyone else.
Where can you better leverage the Public Victory in your own work? How will you differentiate your contribution from the rest of the pack? What do you put at risk by only worrying about your own deliverables? Let’s be careful how often we utter those infamous words, “That’s not my job.” They could turn into a very undesirable reality.