Monday, September 30, 2013

When being the Best isn't always the Best thing to be!

We are often told that, if we want to be successful, we should do what successful people do.  It would seem to make sense then to sit down with the expert, the person who is a 'pro' at what you want to do, and find out how they did it.  If you can dissect their actions, then you will be in a position to replicate their process and achieve similar results.  

This, however, is often proven to be better in theory than in actuality.  It seems that those who are great at what they do may not truly understand how they did everything to get them there.  This is as true in business as it is in sports.  In the film clip below, Malcolm Gladwell discusses why a Professional Tennis Player may not be the best person to ask in determining 'how' to become a great tennis player.

As it turns out, the sports Pros may not be positioned well to teach you what they do because they do it instinctively.  It isn't a rational decision they make, it's a reaction or response to stimuli.  What Gladwell doesn't mention in this clip though is that there are people who are positioned to help you improve your game.  Those people are the coaches.  These are the people that have broken the moves down, who have studied what it takes to succeed; which is why they are there coaching the pros.

When you are looking for direction on how to become the best, your time may be better served in learning from those that helped the Best in Class get there, than in questioning those who have made it.  Look to those who have guided the success of others, and not just themselves, for they understand what is necessary and are better positioned to help you find ways that will work for you.  Most pros know what it took for them to get there but are not well-positioned to offer you alternative routes.  

We see this happen in business where, for example, you have a sales rep out in the field who is just killing it.  They are by-far out-selling all others and so, naturally, they get promoted.  The assumption is that they will now teach those reporting to them 'how to do it'.  The organization is hoping to now not just have one person in the field selling like crazy but a whole team of 'em.  But... it just doesn't happen.  Turns out... that sales rep turned manager doesn't know how to describe what they do to create rapport.  They can't truly explain how the 'magic' works.  Sure, they make up stuff to share and to get others working on replicating, but it turns out like that recipe you got from your grandma where it seems to be missing that one ingredient!  Getting there and explaining 'how' to get there are not the same skill.  Sometimes it it better to leave that amazing, exceptional person alone, doing what makes them amazing and exceptional and promote the person who understands the steps to helping others be amazing and exceptional.  

Being the Best is an admirable goal.  But, if you are looking to help grow and develop others, you don't need to be the Best at what you coach in, you just need to be the best coach.  Two different skills.  Make sure that you get what you need from those better positioned to give it to you.


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