Under Promising, Over Performing – The Art of Being and Effective

Often we take shortcuts in doing what is required. To be recognized as true leaders and develop trust among our peers, followers, and boards of directors, we need to deliver against what we say we will do. So many of us have a hard time keeping in check the “Yes, I can do that” response. We so desperately want to please others and are convinced we can deliver the results asked, that we promise more than we can deliver.

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.”
— Arnold Palmer

But leaders will only earn that “can-do” reputation (s/he is very reliable, I can always count on her!) if they can consistently make good on their promises. And, usually that takes more effort than we can possibly imagine at the beginning of a particular project.

As we plan our days and weeks, it is important to allow room in our schedule for those setbacks and redirections that we will invariably face along the way. Thinking ahead and anticipating all that can and will go wrong is a prerequisite to being a good manager or leader. It’s not just important to think we can accomplish an objective, but it is important to consistently deliver against these expectations. I’ve never seen a case where something ended up being easier than I originally anticipated. Also, my experience suggests that it becomes even harder when we are embarking on doing something we never have done before. So, even though it is a “piece of cake” in our mind, it never is in reality. That’s why we need to live by the omen–give it all we got and go that extra mile. Because it may just take all we have to achieve our goal.

“The bitter and the sweet come from the outside, the hard from within, from one’s own efforts.”
— Albert Einstein

And we all know that Murphy is alive and well, working 24/7 in each one of our lives. For those of my readers who do not know Murphy, let me introduce you to his famous quote, “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Of course, every disease needs an antidote, so the one that works best for this disorder is “prepare, prepare, prepare.”

If you are still climbing your leadership ladder and want to ensure you make it to the top rung, double your efforts and give more than what you think is required. Be shrewd with your time and spend it wisely, leaving plenty of periods to balance your life among its competing demands. Don’t invest only in your professional career, but leave plenty of room to develop yourself personally.

I was given an assignment, much earlier in my career by the Chief Financial Officer of a billion dollar company, and I remember clearly the words that he told me. “Phil, you can’t let this project fail (the company was going to save $18 million). Too much is at stake, so do whatever you have to in order to be successful.” That comment put the environment in perspective for me and conditioned me to prepare carefully. Embedded in my mind is the old carpenter saying “Measure Twice and Cut Once.” I didn’t take any shortcuts. Were we successful? You bet we were! But it took more than I ever thought it was going to take.

If you give more than what you believe is required, you will invariably come out on top and will achieve the highest potential in your life, whether it is professionally or personally.

“Much effort, much prosperity.”
— Euripide