What You Have in Common with these World Renowned Performers
As many of you know from my post last week, I’ve been watching a bit more TV than usual while recuperating from a gnarly bike crash.
Apollo 11 – A recent documentary about the Apollo 11 lunar mission in 1969. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins became the first crew to go to the moon.
Free Solo – Alex Honnold, the first and only person to free solo El Capitan, a 3000-foot granite wall, alone, with no rope.
Chef’s Table France – Each chef highlighted is the recipient of coveted Michelin stars – endorsement from the most demanding food critics in the world.
As I considered each of these creative, entrepreneurial achievements, a common thread emerged… one I think many of the entrepreneurs I work with also possesses.
What do you think the common thread is? Do you possess it?
We experience personalities in documentaries somewhat isolated to the context they are presented in. It is tempting, therefore, to believe that they all just sprang onto the scene and became overnight successes. But the truth is they learned and practiced their craft for many, many years before big achievements brought them into prominence.
Neal Armstrong became a naval aviator in 1950 and by 1955 had become a test pilot. Going back and reading about Armstrong’s career, it is apparent he was on the cutting edge of technology and endured the pressures of his life being endangered on several occasions while experimenting with new things. Armstrong had been proven under pressure for well over a decade before he ever became an astronaut.
The Apollo 11 lunar mission was declared by JFK in May of 1961 before congress and again in 1962 when he boldly stated to a crowded Texas stadium, and the whole world, “We chose to go to the moon !” But a year before his famous speech, Kennedy asked his VP, Lyndon B Johnson to investigate the feasibility of a big win for the US in the space race with the Soviet Union. And in fact, the U.S. had been puzzling on how to keep up with the Soviets since they put Sputnik into orbit in 1957.
The lunar landing was accomplished, as Kennedy had declared, before the decade was out in July of 1969. But the Apollo 11 lunar landing represented the culmination of well over a decade of work! Thousands of people were focused on space flight and the mission to land a man on the moon.
I only recently became acquainted with Alex Honnold and did not know much about his rock-climbing background when I watched Free Solo.
Turns out Alex had been climbing since age 5 and was 33 when he free soloed El Capitan. Before his academy award winning documentary, Free Solo, about the El Capitan ascent, Alex appeared in eight other climbing films over the course of a decade and chalked up more than 25 climbing records on “Big Walls, Bouldering, Single Pitch, and Mountain” routes during the same period.
One moment in the El Cap climb that blew my mind was a section where the only way to progress to the next step is to do a full 90-degree leg extension, karate-kick style, from a tiny nub of a foothold, to an adjacent vertical wall. Really? Where did Alex find the confidence to nail this move perfectly, on a slab of granite 2000 feet up, without a rope?
I came to appreciate that much like the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, Alex Honnold’s free solo up El Capitan was just another step in a career filled with high pressure moments. He had spent the better part of the previous decade studying the El Cap route, practicing with ropes, and climbing with partners.
Chef’s Table France
OK, while cooking spectacular food may be slightly less “life-or-death” than going to the moon in a space capsule or climbing a 3000-foot wall without a rope, the life or death of a restaurant enterprise is no less precarious.
For example, after about a decade of apprenticeship in other restaurants in France and cooking alongside other chefs for 2 years in Hong Kong, chef Adeline Grattard opened her restaurant, Yam’ Tcha, in Paris.
Adeline describes one experience that was the equivalent of Alex Honnold’s Karate kick move on El Capitan. One night she was out in front of the restaurant and noticed that a famous food critic, complete with cameras, was entering the restaurant. Feeling the weight of the moment, Adeline froze momentarily. Upon entering the kitchen, she felt alone, wondering what she would cook for the critic.
Then it happened. All of her years of experience came into play and she got into flow. She went to work cooking and the chinese dishes, styled with french ingredients, came together magnificently. The manifestation of all the work she had done over the previous decade came into play. She created a spectacular, out-of-the-ordinary experience for the critic. Had she failed that evening and gotten a poor review, it most likely would have been the end of Adeline’s restaurant and possibly even her cooking career. As it turns out, the review was very favorable and after a bit more critical acclaim, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star and is doing exceptionally well. It was like “the eagle had landed”.
Your Decades of Experience
Malcolm Gladwell had it right in his book “Outliers” when he explained the 10,000 hour rule. The rule states that practicing a specific task for 10,000-Hours – which usually takes about a decade – is what it takes to become successful in any field.
So what do you have in common with the famous performances of astronauts, rock climbers and famous chefs? Just look at your focus over the last ten or twenty years!
- What have you been practicing for about a decade?
- Have you put in your 10,000 hours?
- Remember the Picasso quote I was pondering a few weeks ago in Tuesday Traction Points? “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
- What rules do you know like a pro?
- How are you applying the rules like an artist to deliver your unique product or service?
For me, I have two decades of business transformation and growth in companies ranging from software startups to a few publicly-traded enterprises. Like Neil Armstrong, I’ve been on a few intense missions and have ejected from a few burning wreckages and lived to tell the tale. Now I parlay my experience into coaching other entrepreneurs in the transformation and growth of their companies. I feel confident in facing just about any business challenge because I “know the rules like a pro”.
Your Stand Out Performance
Whatever your experience may be over the last decade or two, I salute you! I look forward to seeing your amazing performances emerge as you … like world-class climbers, chefs and astronauts …
- Get to know the rules like a pro and demonstrate them like artists!
- Step up to your life or death challenges
- Fearlessly apply your years of experience … your 10,000 hours
- Create new things that you are uniquely qualified to do
- Inspire your power teams to work with you and create things no person could do on their own
- Gain the recognition that comes when you deliver stand-out performances!
What do you think? Comment below …