How To Keep The Phone Ringing
I was reminded of the biggest driver of success when giving a speech while sick as a dog last week. It keeps my phone ringing. Do you do it?
I pulled this post yesterday just as Martine was pushing ’send’. I lost my nerve, fearing it sounded boastful. Forgive me please if it does. I don’t mean it to be. It’s just a reminder of what drives success. So here it is. Shared with love.
Now, my IQ is about average. (Apparently my EQ is much worse than that!). Here’s the point. I manage to continue to thrive in my little corner of my little industry because I commit to one habit. Muhammad Ali summed it up with this powerful statement:
“I am on the road, long before I dance under the lights.”
I know that I am still right ‘in the mix’ simply because I work harder than many others in my little world. And that includes the young ‘hot’ guns, on the way up. I’ve done it for 35 years. And do it still today.
It’s a key driver of success: work harder than anyone else. It does not mean longer hours (though sometimes that’s exactly what it means). It does mean working with pace, focus, intent and persistence.
Get up earlier. Sweat every minute of every day. Put pressure on yourself. Be constantly restless. Know you are only as good as your next result for a client. Don’t rest on your laurels. Maintain healthy paranoia, always.
Put your hand up to help. Meet people. Write blogs. Even books. Be always at it. I’m all about ‘producing’, and very selective about sitting back and ‘consuming’ (except dammit food and red wine, but that’s a story for another day).
I am driven by delivering outputs: getting more of the right things done, every day. To do lists. Getting shit done. It’s even printed on the cover of my note books. Get Shit Done.
Yes, I need to work smarter, and to focus. This I am average at. I can do better.
But I am good at going ‘the extra mile.’ As rugby legend Brad Thorn so neatly puts it: ‘Champions do extra.’ And, those that do this will say it’s fricken lonely on that extra mile.
Settle down, Possums, please. I’m NOT claiming to be a champion. I do try though to copy their habits. I’ll never stop doing it while my health permits.
For me, it means the 6 a.m. flight to Melbourne rather than ‘the Chairman’s flight’ mid morning. It’s a 4 a.m. wake-up to get two extra hours to deliver on a request for an article on the crisis management mistakes of Australian cricket for The Australian Financial Review. It’s squeezing in three extra meetings in a day. It’s hand-writing 700 personal notes to contacts wishing them a successful and happy year ahead. It’s when a former colleague calls and asks: ‘are you interested to help on a difficult crisis project for my Adelaide-based company?’, and I make sure of the happy coincidence that I ‘just happen to be in Adelaide’ two days later, so let’s meet to chat about it (and then win the brilliantly challenging assignment by the end of the meeting).
I don’t claim victory. Nor claim I am some sort of uniquely shiny talent. I’m not. You know that!
I’ve just been reflecting on how massive the past six months have been work-wise for me. I’m involved in exciting stuff, learning and growing, traveling, working with such inspiring and talented people. So I ask myself: why is MY phone ringing, with a steady flow of challenging opportunity, even though I’m touching 60 years old, and in a young person’s industry?
I reckon it must be that I do work at it harder than most in my little patch. And I do it every day, every week, month, year. Decade in, decade out. I ‘turn up’. And as Woody Allen said, that’s 85% of the secret of success.
I even turned up to give a free speech to a business last week that could and should have paid for it. That fair fee would have bought a business class ticket to the Cannes Creativity Conference (yes- I am turning up for that too…hardly a hardship, that one). But I did it because the guy asked. (Ask boldly for what you want. Often you get it!!) I was sick as a dog on the day, could not let him down, showed up, and we had fun.
Something great WILL come out of it one day. You’ve got to pay it forward. Because as Muhammad Ali says, you have to be on that road long before you get to dance in the lights.
Are you on that road often enough? Consistently enough?
One day that phone WILL stop ringing – and when it does, I am completely driven to make sure (so long as I keep working at it) I can fill the wine glass with full confidence I gave it my very, very best shot.
Hopefully that wine can mature in the bottle for years to come. For me. And for you.