Great by Choice
In preparation for an upcoming executive team meeting, our team read chapter 2 of Jim Collins’ book ‘Great by Choice.’ The introduction was particularly fun to read as it compared two expedition team leaders – Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon, in their preparation and pursuit of being the first to reach the South Pole. ‘One leader led his team to victory and safety. The other led is team to defeat and death. What separated these two men?
Some favorite quotes:
‘You don’t wait until you’re in an unexpected storm to discover that you need more strength and endurance.’
‘You prepare with intensity, all the time, so that when conditions turn against you, you can draw from a deep reservoir of strength.’
‘And equally, you prepare so that when conditions turn in your favor, you can strike hard.’
‘Amundsen systematically built enormous buffers for unforeseen events. He designed the entire journey to systematically reduce the role of big forces and chance events by vigorously embracing the possibility of those very same big forces.’
In Collins’ research, he identifies what he calls “10Xers” (pronounced “ten-EX-ers”) – a term for people who built 10X companies (enterprises that beat their industry averages by at least 10 times.) 10Xers share a set of behavioral traits that set them apart from other leaders. They are not necessarily ‘more creative, visionary, charismatic, ambitious, blessed by luck, or prone to making big, bold moves.’
10Xers embrace a paradox of control and non-control. On one hand, they face continuous uncertainty and cannot predict significant aspects of the world around them. On the other hand, they reject the idea that forces outside of their control will determine their results, accepting full responsibility for their own fate.’
Fanatic Discipline – They display extreme consistency in action – consistency with values, goals, performance standards, and methods. They are utterly relentless, monomaniacal, unbending in their focus on their quests. They have the inner will to do whatever it takes to create a great outcome, no matter how difficult.
Productive Paranoia – maintaining hyper-vigilance in good times as well as bad. Even in calm, clear, positive conditions, they constantly consider the possibility that events could turn against them at any moment, without warning. And they’d better be prepared. They are not distinguished by paranoia per se, but by how they take effective action as a result.
Empirical Creativity – At times of uncertainty, while most people look to other people for their primary cues about how to proceed, 10Xers look primarily to empirical evidence (meaning direct observation, conducting practical experiments, engaging directly with evidence rather than relying on opinion, whim, conventional wisdom, authority, or untested ideas.
Rank order the core behaviors from your strongest to weakest. What can you do to turn your weakest into your strongest?