Fit to Lead is a weekly series sharing the leadership lessons that I learned from getting fit.
As I explain in my book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, I have recently gone through a significant personal transformation. I attribute much of my success to my decision to leverage my years of project management and continuous improvement to accomplish my goal.
Throughout my transformation I learned that there are many important parallels between getting fit and becoming a good leader. There are also lessons that I have learned about fitness from being a good leader. In short there are significant synergies between fitness and leadership.
Fit to Lead is part of my quest to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.
Stop Trying to Fix What’s Broken
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”Benjamin Franklin
I often downplay it but I have to admit that getting fit after 40 years of not being fit was a lot of work. It was an every day focus, it was a sacrifice and it was hard. It would have been a heck of a lot easier if I didn’t have to do it. So, as you can imagine, I am going to have an intense focus on maintaining so I never have to do it again. Believe it or not maintaining is a lot easier than building.
That is a good leadership lesson wrapped up inside this. It is much easier, and usually more successful, to focus on what is working and continue to improve it than it is to focus on what is wrong and fix it.
Why are we always focused on fixing weaknesses (our own, our teams) instead of leveraging the strengths that we already have? It takes a lot more energy, it is more likely to fail and people are more likely to be frustrated with a focus on fixing.
This concept isn’t new by any means and it is the focus of a couple of big name authors. But my fitness journey was a good reminder to focus on leveraging strengths instead of fixing weaknesses.
So how do you do it?
Know Your Strengths
First off you have to know yourself and know your strengths. There are lots of ways to do this and you may already be very aware of where your strengths lie.
If you are not sure of your strengths I highly recommend the Gallup / Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. I have taken this assessment several times and find it to be very accurate tool.
Develop Your Strengths
Once you know your strengths it is time to focus every day on leveraging and developing them. Research your strengths and continually look for ways to learn more about them and ways to make them even better.
One of the best and most rewarding ways to develop your strengths is through practice. Look for opportunities (and maybe even careers) where you can apply your strengths daily. Not only will this help fortify these strengths you will also feel more natural and successful in these roles.
Do Unto Others…
Once you have discovered your strengths and start focusing on leveraging them instead of fixing your weaknesses it is time to treat others the same way. The core job of any leader is to develop their people and a focus on strengths is a great way to approach this. Learn to leverage the strengths of other people to achieve amazing results. Most importantly, stop focusing on weaknesses as your go-to leadership strategy.
Always remember what Einstein said: everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it’ll live its whole life believing that it’s stupid
Thanks so much for reading this week’s Fit to Lead article. I sincerely hope that you can apply some of these ideas to your own leadership journey starting today. By working to improve our leadership together we can help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.