As a novice tennis player at age 15, I was excited when my father took me to watch my first professional tennis tournament in Dallas. John Mcenroe and Johan Kriek blasted serves, returns, and winners all over the court. I was amazed at how effortless and easy they made the game look.
You would probably agree with me that true professionals, no matter their craft, make their work look easy; their work looks effortless because they are leaders and have learned to “lead with E’s.”
Would you like to achieve true professionalism and learn to lead with E’s? Here’s a guide on how to get started:
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
The speed of innovation, a growing skills gap, and poorly prepared graduates has led to a global talent shortage, especially in STEM-related fields. Its clear changes need to be made in early education to create more work-integrated projects and experiences from the beginning, but what about the workforce we have now? Increasing your knowledge and improving your skills is pivotal to staying ahead in the changing and innovative world. Knowledge is not only power, but it’s income.
As the cost of education increases and student debt becomes the second-highest consumer debt category, it’s important to know that traditional education isn’t the only way for you to lead with this “E.” Continual learning and up-skilling are an everyday part of professional growth and development. From LinkedIn Learning to Cousera to my own courses here on Strengths Champion Solutions, you can learn everything from how to use Excel (LinkedIn Learning), get certified as a Project Manager (Coursera), or become a Strengths Champion Certified Coach®.
It doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money to learn. You can also read a book, or learn and practice a new app or program on your computer by watching videos. Find something you’re interested in and start with one article, book, or video and go from there.
“Experience is the teacher of all things.” – Julius Caesar
Did you find that dream role, the one that describes your future career goal perfectly? You know you’ll be amazing at it. You’ve prepared for it; went to school for it even. But you discover it requires years of experience.
A survey in 2019 showed two-thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience because it helps them prepare for work and develop business awareness. One-third of employers felt that job applicants didn’t have a developed enough sense of their chosen career or job.
When I was 24 years old and a novice therapist, I knew just enough to be dangerous. Fresh out of school with a Master’s degree and very little experience, older patients doubted my abilities because of my age. In order to gain their trust and confidence, I needed to practice first and draw on my previous experience. Just because I started when I was 24, doesn’t mean everything that happened before that didn’t have an influence on my ability to be a great therapist and one-day Strengths Champion.
Rick Warren wrote, “You have been shaped by your experiences in life, most of which were beyond your control. God allowed them for his purpose of molding you”
“A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.” – Charles Schwab.
I have noticed many of my friends enjoy college football over professional football. when I ask them why they say it’s because the players have so much more enthusiasm. They are able to show their talents for the first time in front of thousands of people and often times on television. They are playing for the potential to move into a multi-million dollar career. Their love for the game is still fresh and filled with magic.
Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, said, “There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.”
Practice these 3 things to keep enthusiasm from fizzling out when you lead with this “E”:
- Be the host to get the most! – Greet the day with intention, joy, and openness.
- Let it go and be gung ho! – Exaggerate your body language. Smile bigger, make eye contact and keep your arms and hands open.
- Balance outstanding old with the novel new! – Reminisce about the old and create optimism and dream of the new to create adventure and anticipation.
“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Simone Biles has changed gymnastics with her gravity-defying stunts. It was her full-time job. To become the gold-medalist Olympian she is today took genuine creative effort. She trained seven hours a day and worked out six days a week – sometimes twice in a day.
If we desire success we must be willing to pay the price. Part of that price is the effort of work and practice.
It’s been said, “Winners are willing to do the things losers are unwilling to do.” Simone Biles did those things, and that is why she kept winning.
It’s also important to point out, looking towards Simone Biles, one of those things is knowing when it’s time to focus on another kind of “E”. Emotional well-being. One of the best things a leader can do for themselves and their team is to recognize when there is too much effort, work, and sacrifice and it’s time to focus on being emotionally and mentally well.
“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” – Colin Powell
When I was 2, my mother took a picture of me dressed in a black suit, white shirt and tie, and perfectly combed hair. She was communicating to me that I should be perfect.
I struggle with perfectionism, daily. Imposter syndrome, even at my age, hasn’t escaped me. I’m always wondering, “Am I good enough?”
When you’re leading with your E’s it’s important to know the difference between striving for perfection (a.k.a. unrealistic expectations) and excellence.
Excellence is your best. You will make mistakes. You can learn from mistakes. Others may even seem better at things than you. But ask yourself, “Did I give my everything?” And if you did, that is excellence!
“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” – Nicholas M. Butler
It doesn’t matter what field you work in, when you are leading with your E’s, it’s important to become an expert in your niche.
Becoming an expert builds credibility and confidence — which leads to success.
Defining and excelling with a specialized niche allows you to identify, claim, and build on your market expertise and can lead to fast advancement in your career or business.
To help you take your niche expertise to the next level, follow these three simple tips:
- Make sure you are passionate in what you do.
- Understand your ideal and most profitable customers.
- Make sure you can fulfill a need for those customers or for your business in what you do.
“He conquers who endures.” – Persius
The all-time great Jack Nicklaus is a living legend. He is the ultimate golfer who has become immortal. Although Tiger Woods is the contemporary version, Tiger knows he has to endure in his professional career to be compared to “The Golden Bear” who is Jack Nicklaus. It takes daily practice and commitment to endure as long as professionals like that, no matter if you are a professional golfer or a leader in corporate America.
It’s good to have a good thing going. But it takes greatness to keep a good thing enduring. It requires persistence through hard times and being professional and working even when you suffer from boredom, burnout, conflicts, disappointments, distractions, frustration, and illness. While it’s important to take care of yourself, now more than ever, endurance builds resilience. Knowing when you can and can’t keep going will help you meet the demands of complex workplaces and relationships.
Think of your endurance like a muscle. Being able to navigate stressful situations at work helps make that muscle stronger over time. Here are a few tips to build endurance at work:
- Be honest with yourself when you are overwhelmed and about what your own triggers are.
- Don’t run from tough situations. Look for tough people to partner with until you develop your own endurance muscles.
- Don’t confuse complexity for stress. Break down situations into manageable pieces and try seeing it from different angles. Think of it as problem-solving rather than problem-causing.
As you can see, leading with E’s isn’t as effortless as it may look. It takes practice.
Drop a comment on best practices you have around leading with one of the E’s! I’d love to hear from you.