I am on Hamilton Island for the 2015 RCSA Conference as I write this. Speaking at the conference will be a person I know very well: Sue-Ellen Watts. Attending the conference, but not speaking (as she has done previously), will be Nicole Underwood, a person I also know very well.
and Nicole were my first two clients, after I opened my coaching doors
in 2004. At the time of each commencing their respective coaching
programs, Sue-Ellen and Nicole were both employees. Now, twelve years
later, they are both successful business owners.
If you meet either Sue-Ellen or Nicole (and I hope you do), see either
of them speak or undertake some basic research about their respective
businesses, I am sure you will be impressed. Both are passionate,
driven and highly competent. I am very happy that our industry has such
impressive, emerging business owners such as Sue-Ellen and Nicole; it
augers well for the future of our industry.
It would be natural to see Nicole's or Sue-Ellen's respective success
as inevitable given the people they are. It would be natural, and
forgivable, to make this mistake.
I was reminded of this very clearly when I read Nicole's excellent
latest blog How to reduce staff turnover and to ensure top
In the blog, Nicole writes about her experience of confronting ongoing
issues in the business she was running. The stark realisation was that she
had to have a hard look in the mirror and make the necessary changes to
leadership style. It was a tough place for her to look. To Nicole's
complete credit, she not only had a long, hard look, she acted on what
she found. She made the difficult, but necessary changes, and the
Sue-Ellen had a similar journey, but different in that when she started
her journey to being a business owner, she was a long way from that
goal because, even as an employee, she wasn't responsible for any
staff, only herself. Sue-Ellen possessed ambition and determination but
found her self-doubt a massive barrier to overcome. Like Nicole,
Sue-Ellen had the courage to face up to the fact that there was only
one person holding her back from fulfilling her ambitions; and she
looked at that person every morning in the mirror.
Although Sue-Ellen and Nicole have different businesses and have taken
different paths there are some very important things in common.
They were both:
1. Ambitious; yet clear they were
not where they wanted to be
2. Prepared to invest in external
3. Weren't looking for a quick fix
4. Prepared to engage in
purposeful, rigourous and (sometimes) confronting conversations
5. Prepared to be held accountable
for their commitments
6. Prepared to do the hard work
their comfort zone, and to keep doing it until the previous
unproductive behaviour was broken and new behaviour was ingrained
and Nicole both did the work. They were
gifted nothing. They expected no favours. They weren't looking for
their respective circumstances to change.
observation about hard work, at one level, is incredibly obvious; yet very
few people are prepared to do the hard work necessary to
break through their existing, self-perpetuated, limiting beliefs and
Colvin has written a brilliant book that investigates the foundation of
success; Why Talent is Overrated.
The author examines successful people and demonstrates how their
individual successes are as the result of backgrounds, opportunities
and actions not greatly understood or acknowledged. I wrote about it
four years ago (High Achievers: Born or Made?*). The key point that Colvin
makes is that success is as much about 'deliberate practice' as
The five components of
'deliberate practice' are (elaborated on in the original blog, above):
1. Deliberate practice is designed
specifically to improve performance
2. Deliberate practice can be
repeated a lot
3. Feedback on results is
4. It's highly demanding mentally
5. It's hard
on the last point for a minute: 'It's hard'.
mean really focus on it; 'It's
Colvin succinctly puts it:
'… the reality that
deliberate practice is hard can even be seen as good news. It means
that most people won't do it. So your willingness to do it will
distinguish you all the more'.
hard work if you come across either Nicole or Sue-Ellen this week at
the conference (or any other time). If you really want to learn
something from their individual success, ask them about the hard things
they each did, and continued to do, that made the biggest difference to
the results they were, and still are, generating.
I promise you, you will learn something highly
valuable if you do.
MOST important difference between the best and the rest
you have an 'almost pathological need to confront brutal facts?
First you must fail (and often fail again)
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