After an extensive review of successful business leaders, professional athletes, Olympians, and other success stories, it was amazing to note how they had instrumental people, such as a coach, mentor, advisor, or some influential person, that they learned from along the way.
“It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes,
but an even wiser man to learn from others.”
- zen proverb
The road to excellence and extraordinary results is very challenging. So, even though you may have extraordinary talent in one particular area, rarely is someone excellent is every area, nor do they become excellent overnight. It’s a journey, and the journey is much more productive with expert guidance along the way.
When Michael Jordan stepped on the basketball court, he had to know more than just how to shoot a basketball… he needed to know how to execute the game plan, how execute his role, how to handle certain situations, and how to respond to ever changing challenges from opponents. Even with his great natural ability, and years of experience, Michael still seeked guidance from coaches and advisors to continuously improve his game and ensure that the game plan, his performance and the performance of the team were on target. Fortunately, he had some of the very best coaches/advisors along the way. In college, he was coached by legendary coach Dean Smith. Dean Smith is considered one of the best college coaches of all time. Once Michael turned pro, he was fortunate to be coached by one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, Phil Jackson. Phil Jackson has 13 NBA championship rings!.. 2 NBA championship rings as a player, and 11 championship rings as a head coach! So, as you can see Michael Jordan had excellent coaches and mentors that helped him achieve his extraordinary results.
Steve Jobs, the admired entrepreneur and technology innovator, is described by many people as a talented maverick and a loner, but that’s simply wrong. The Apple co-founder turned his personal vision into reality with the help of trusted, talented advisors and teams. How did he and his people come up with their ideas and solve the technological and design problems they encountered as they worked on Apple products? By spending time together. As Steve said to his biographer Walter Isaacson: "Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say "Wow, and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas." Even as brilliant as Steve Jobs was, he still surrounds himself with brilliant technology experts and leveraged all the talent to develop and execute innovative products and extraordinary results.
Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computers, has long been credited for his ability to find and surround himself with extraordinary talent. Even in the early days of Dell, he would assess where he needed additional insight and talent, and then took action to surround himself with the best talent that would supplement his capabilities and help address his business needs.
The Challenge: While the results and the need to learn from others is well documented, still people resist getting help from others. Why?! The reasons range from ego, pride, insecurities, or other misplaced thoughts. Successful leaders have learned to put away those fears, and realize that their success, and their organizations success will be far better off with the help of other talented people. None of us are experts at everything. Asking help from others doesn’t mean that they are smarter than you… typically the advisor’s value is they have more experience and insight in that one particular area due to their background or specialty, which can be tapped to fast-track the knowledge transfer to you and your initiative. Supplemental expertise allows you to achieve results far faster than you could by yourself.
So who are you learning from right now? No matter what your age, status, or position, everyone should be continuously learning from others. A good start is to look at your current challenges, projects, or concerns and find people that are experts in that area. Adding the right expertise is a catalyst to success. You may need the resource for a day, a week, or many months… whatever the time period, when it produces value and increases the pace of success, it's a great investment. Think about how you and/or your organization good benefit by learning from others.
This article is part 6 of a 6 part series titled “6 Factors For Excellence”, and discusses the 6 factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results. To read the other articles in this series click here.
I really appreciate all the positive feedback that I received on this series. Follow the other factors for excellence that are included in this series, make sure you clearly set your goal, apply the incredible power of visualization, and learn from others. I hope you put these factors for excellence into action and achieve extraordinary results!
Mark Johnson is the Chief Executive at Xtrii. He has been an award-winning, global CIO, CTO, and business leader for more than 25 years. For more details visit his LinkedIn profile or follow him on Twitter @johnsonme.