Sunday, March 06, 2005

Always do your homework

The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not obtained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have always had a problem about 'overnight success.'

The 'one hit wonder' in pop music.

The footballer who is going to be the next Pele, Maradona or George Best.

In truth - in my experience those who reach the top of the tree in business, management and leadership are never 'overnight successes.'

The people who have inspired me in my career have always been those who have credibility and have arrived where they are in the 'pecking order' through a mixture of experience, knowledge, talent and - perhaps most important - determination and focus.

I researched leadership among doctors in the mid 90's and discovered that the greatest quality that doctors look for in their 'leaders' are professional credibility; peer credibility; knowledge; and hard work.

This is not rocket science - so I therefore always treat with caution those who are celebrated and promoted as an 'overnight success.'

There are exceptional people of course who achieve 'instant' stardom and success but I have just never met one in business, management or leadership.

I generally like to judge some people over the long term - not a few days, weeks or months.

I think the Henry Longfellow verse sums up my feelings perfectly.

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