As a choreographer, my task is to make the best possible work with the dancers I find in the room on any given day.
Twyla Tharp, The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together
It’s a broken record. Everybody knows it. If you have the wrong people in your organization, on your team, you are in trouble. You will not accomplish your goals. You will not take your organization to the next level. And I’ve read the books; I’ve quoted the findings, the recommendations. They all make sense.
Getting the right talent is everything. “Do you have the right people on the bus?” goes the mantra-like question.
Well, let me put it simply – until you get the perfect person to fill that all-important seat on your bus, that all-important slot on your team, there is a better, more realistic solution, and Twyla Tharp gives us the insight:
my task is to make the best possible work with the dancers I find in the room on any given day.
Twyla Tharp has worked with the very best (Billy Joel and his music; the music of Frank Sinatra; the dancing of Mikhail Baryshnikov, and a plethora of others), but she also has worked with many, many dancers who may not reach such heights in the reputation, or talent, department that these superstars represent. So, what does she do? She still churns out terrific work, because she views her task as this:
to make the best possible work with the dancers I find in the room on any given day.
Consider the lowly, seemingly lesser names of the Dallas Mavericks. OK, Dirk Nowitzki is a “superstar,” but his surrounding cast, the other members of the team? – Coach Rick Carlisle simply made the best possible work with the dancers he found in the room on this given day (in this season). And, lo and behold, they rose to the occasion, and they won it all. And, by the way, those lesser names – JET (Jason Terry), J. J. Barea, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, the practically ancient Jason Kidd, and the entire team– they’re not so lesser anymore!
So, fantasize about that perfect team all you want to (while your team fantasizes about that perfect team leader!). But take a look around you. There are people with talent – great untapped talent – ready to go to work. Work with these people. They are the ones in the room on this given day. Work with them to do the best this group can do on this day.
Yes, it might be hard work to make this happen. “The best possible work” is never easy. But, give it your best shot with the people on your team now.
You might be surprised!
So, what is the most important personal trait that leads to success? Is it…the ability to network? The ability to innovate? The ability to be a good team player? This list could go on…
The more I read, the more convinced I am that there is no one answer to this question – the question of “which is the most important trait?” But, I am ready to weigh in on one trait – regardless of which of these other areas one gets really good at.
The one trait that rules them all, the trait that comes first, that precedes all other success, is “work ethic.” Those who work hardest have the better chance at success.
And we find such concrete examples of this in sports. I think because it is so tangible. And the list of athletes that simply did not work hard enough, and thus blew their chance to develop their skills, is a long one. While the quotes about those who have a great work ethic seem to stick with us.
I do not follow basketball closely, but there is, apparently, a number one draft pick this year in the NBA who is, at the moment, putting up better numbers that LeBron James did in his rookie year. That little fact got may attention.
His name is Blake Griffin, from the University of Oklahoma, now the outstanding rookie center for the Los Angeles Clippers. You can read a good article about him in this morning’s Dallas Morning News: Jason Kidd isn’t afraid to put Blake Griffin, Mailman in same sentence by Eddie Sefko. And here’s your work ethic quote for the day, by Jason Kidd:
He comes to play every night, and as a rookie, you don’t find that very often in this league.
Troy Aikman, whose own work ethic was (and is, now, as an announcer) legendary, uses this phrase about people that have a great work ethic: “he shows up to work every day.”
Apparently, great work ethic is rare enough that when a player has one, it stands out. Apparently, more than a few players “come to work,” but don’t “show up to work.”
The same is true in any work arena.
So – ask yourself – do you “come to play” play every day – do you show up to work, every day? This is the absolute pre-requisite. Do this first, and all the time, and then include as part of your work schedule time to develop all those other traits that can make you more successful.
What do Americans Really Want? – One thing that they want is success, without paying for it…
I’m working my way through the new Frank Luntz book, What Americans Really Want…Really. It is my selection for this Friday at the First Friday Book Synopsis. I heard him interviewed on the Krys Boyd Think program on KERA (NPR in Dallas—listen to the interview here), and she described it this way to Mr. Luntz: “Your book concludes that we are a nation of well-meaning hypocrites.” Luntz agreed, admitting that we want small government, lower taxes – but better government services. (See my earlier post, To be Rich without Being Greedy — What Americans Really Want…Really by Frank Luntz about this book to see another example of this of this “hypocrisy” – or, at the least, inconsistency).
The book has much to offer as we think about success in business and in life. Here’s an excerpt:
You can learn a lot from listening to accomplished individuals talk about their craft… Among the most memorable conversations of my career was one with Jason Kidd, one of the great basketball point guards – not just of our time, but of all time. He had three simple words to explain the success on the court: “read, react, execute.” Read the basketball court not just as it looks at that instant but as it will look a split second later; react to the opportunities in front of you as they develop; and execute so that those opportunities are realized.
Read — react — execute. There’s Ram Charan’s Execution in three words…
If you are in our area, come join us. We meet this Friday, 7:00 am. Register here.