Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Losers, Leaders & Chameleons

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on August 27, 2010

Good news: You’re probably not a loser

Most people aren’t losers.  Losers cause problems, have frequent breakdowns, lash out and are easy to write off.  Losers behave in ways that are unacceptable.  You can’t keep your job if you’re a loser because showing up late every day is unacceptable behavior.  So most of us do what is acceptable, or to put it another way, ‘what is permissible’.  Permissible is fine because it’s better than unacceptable, but the problem with permissible is that it’s usually not beneficial.

Permissible vs. Beneficial

It’s easy to settle for permissible because that’s what most people do.  Permissible is normal; it’s also the lowest common denominator of acceptable behavior.  Leaders are never concerned with what is merely permissible.  Leaders ask, “What is most beneficial?”

It’s permissible to show up at work right on time; it’s beneficial to be early (and sometimes stay late).  It’s permissible to watch TV; it’s beneficial to read a book.  You won’t go to jail for using a credit card, but there are many more benefits to paying cash.   While it’s certainly permissible to complain when you have a legitimate excuse, has anyone ever thanked you for doing it?  Probably not.  This is why we always see an inverse correlation between leaders and complainers.

Why do we settle for permissible?

We settle because we fear awkward.  It’s awkward when your friends come over and ask “Hey, how come you don’t have a TV?”.  It’s awkward when you tell your coworkers you’re not going out because you have to get up early and go to the gym.  We settle for permissible to avoid awkward situations.  Most people would prefer to be the social chameleon.  Blending in is comfortable.  The fear of awkward keeps us from embracing the most beneficial behavior.

The leaders I know and respect are obsessed with growing the gap between what is permissible and what is beneficial.  Leaders push past the fear of awkward to accomplish the very best.  Anyone who leads the room in sales will tell you that it’s awkward to be rejected dozens of times each day, but that it’s the only way to close a deal.  On every team you will see an enormous gap between the behaviors of the second string and those of the starting line up (even though everyone is wearing the same jersey).  The biggest difference between the guys on the field and the ones on the bench is their familiarity with awkward experiences like pain, sacrifice, failure and rejection.  This is what makes them leaders.

What area of life do you find it challenging to grow the gap between permissible and beneficial behavior?

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