Just Say No

Just say no

One of the most important things you can do to achieve sustained success is to ensure your ‘Yes’ list is much shorter than your ‘No’ list.

In his book ‘The One Thing You Need To Know’ Marcus Buckingham offers this up as the single most important distinction to enable individual peak performance. Impressive. It brings to my mind the reaction I had when I first heard a Jim Rohn recording. In it he exhorts us to be loyal, have integrity, work hard and a dozen more such homilies. All fine but was he referring to the Buddha! Who on earth would possess all these qualities in one person. It was a very underwhelming presentation.

But to get back to basics Marcus defines sustained success as ‘Creating the greatest possible impact for the longest possible time’. I find that this automatically eliminates fads. Also it permits wider interpretation and appeals to people like me that are still interested in old fashioned material and career success. We don’t need to reach our inner authentic self, or expect less and be happy, etc.

I like history so I was struck by how this principle relates to an event from World War II.During one of the battles the Germans were trounced by the Soviets. The reason, the German Panzer tanks were no match to the superior T-34 Soviet tanks. So the Germans reverse engineered the T-34 into one of the greatest military tanks ever produced, the Panthers.

Eager to press them into service the Germans planned to use them in the Battles of Kursk, the greatest tank battle in World War II. Only problem was that the Panther was still not production ready. The German engineers being well German engineers kept tinkering with it. Hitler however could not get himself to say no to the PR value and the morale boosting impact of the Panther.

The Germans were massacred in the battle of Kursk. They lost the battle due more to engine issues with the Panther than due to enemy action!

Marcus makes his argument pretty credible by demolishing other factors such as personality traits, talents, interest, correcting your weaknesses, focusing on tactics or cultivating strengths.

I will cover these in an another post.

But the key takeaway, anti climactic as it might be, from the leading research reviewed by Marcus for personal performance is this:

Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it.


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