If you’ve ever been to a Salty Dog restaurant, then you are probably familiar with their slogan, “If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.” While we may think the lead dog on a dogsled is always the strongest, fastest, and youngest dog in the pack, that’s rarely the case; just as leaders in the working world sometimes are not the smartest, bravest, most logical, people on the team. Sorry, if I hurt any feelings out there, folks, but I can tell you from my past that when I admitted these things, I became a much better leader. I hired better, developed more, and used the skills I had to lead. Today, I’d like to share some of those skills, tactics, and practices that can ensure you’re the lead dog, not only during difficult periods, but also during the good times:
1. Take Responsibility: Be responsible for outcomes. It’s an honorable quality that most successful leaders have. To do this, you have to be one to take action, while others are gathering data, asking questions, and consulting others. “Make it happen, while others are wishing and wanting things to happen.”
2. Just Go for It: Hesitation causes procrastination. Don’t over-think and over-analyze, as it will only prevent you from taking the first step to what could be some great strides. If you want to increase or improve something, you’ve got to try something new, or you’ll never know if it will work. Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” He’s right.
3. Fail Fast and Freely: Be willing to fail, fail fast, and keep going. Most people won’t even attempt something if they think they are going to fail at it. To get over that hump, consider what the worst case scenario of failing would be. Normally when we do that, it rarely seems as bad as the unknown. Sometimes the worst case scenario could be you were a comfortable coward.
4. Enjoy Your Role: If you don’t already, take pleasure in what you do. If you don’t get excited about work, you’re cheating yourself out of a life of fulfillment. The average person spends more time at work than they do with their family or in places of worship. Shouldn’t you enjoy it?
5. Be a Winner: If you’re in the game of work to win, then you must define what a win looks like to you and then build a winning game plan (a good coach can assist you with these). Why bother to get up and go to work if you’re not in it to win? The great Michael Jordan once said, “I play to win, and I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.”
6. Get over Obstacles: We all run into obstacles; they are part of life. The true measure of a leader is how they handle them. The number of obstacles you’ve had to overcome speaks volumes for how hard (and smart) you’ve had to work for success. If your goal is worth achieving, then it is worth the time and effort it will take to clear any obstacle in the way of you achieving it. Obstacles don’t have to stop you. What you need to do is think about the fact that whatever you’re trying to reach will be that much more worth it when you get to the other side. Are you ready to climb those mountains?
7. Go for it: Now, put it all out there. Focus on the now, and give it everything you’ve got. If you look at the consequences of failing to achieve, you’ll end up thinking about negative results. Looking too far in the future can cause us to lose focus and in turn, not give the task at hand the focus it needs.
Okay, so you’re not a dog, you’re a person. But isn’t work and life, at times, a lot like pulling a heavily weighted sled through thick snow in sub-zero temperatures? So why wouldn’t you want to use these tips to be the lead dog? Go get um, Fido!
Comment below about a time when you decided to “go for it”! What happened when you did?