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Leadership Thought #389 – Never Lower the Bar

July 24, 2012

Free Pole Vaulter Athlete Stock Photo

Never lower the bar of your expectations or of what’s possible.

A leader’s primary job is to rally people around a common goal and convince them they are capable of much more than they think they are.  People talk themselves out of success all the time.  For the average person it is easy to identify obstacles and the reasons why things can’t happen.  As a result, we tend to lower the bar so we can make our goals achievable.  Leaders should never lower the bar.   They should expect more of themselves and their organizations and never settle for being average or second best.

If you think about the progress that has been made in many different areas/industries just in your own lifetime it is mind boggling.  Diseases that used to be a death sentence are now curable (and this list gets bigger every year).  Space travel has become routine.  People from all around the world have access to technological tools that a generation ago were either unthinkable or the domain of a privileged few.  Countries that have only ever known the yoke of authoritarian rule and dictatorship are now experimenting with democracy.  It becomes clear as you get older and experience life that most of the limitations we’ve learned to accept and deal with in life are self-imposed.

Leaders should challenge the status quo.  The best ones help us redefine and create the future.  If we only ever focused on what was or is, we would never be able to fully grasp what could be.   Of course, progress can be difficult.  There will be failure.  Organizations and individuals will inevitably be tested to see how bad they genuinely want something.  What separates greatness from mediocrity is the leaders who won’t take “no” for an answer.  They continually push the boundaries of commitment and performance until the goal/objective is reached or something close to what was originally envisioned happens.  Leadership is about results.