Gandhi once said that what we believe in and focus on, we become and it’s pretty safe to say that those words served him well given what he accomplished in his lifetime. So while reflecting on those words recently, I was reminded of some of other powerful advice I recieved from one of my first mentors in the automotive industry. Simple “Car Biz” ideas really, but they have served me well and line up directly with Gandhi’s notion that what we focus on, we become.

Work your ass off!

In today’s culture of cliche’s like; “work smarter, not harder” and “work-life balance” that have become the unspoken mantras of mediocre efforts, the idea of working harder than the next person has become almost a taboo subject. Funny thing is, hard work is what brought us here. Hard work is what brought the U.S. through The Great Depression and put a man on the moon. Hard work is what put guys like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on the map but they had a specific map in their mind to get there as well. You must also have a plan, a paradigm, a road map that directs your hard work towards a specific destination. Hard work, that is smarter than yesterday is what will bring economic life & balance back to the global economy.

So to today’s professional I say, Work your ass off, with purpose and direction.

Take on the tasks that others are unwilling to do

There was a TV show in the 80’s called, “McGyver” about an investigator who could fix anything. He would take on just about any challenge and could turn it around somehow with bubble gum and rubber bands. Everyone wanted him on their team because he always had a solution to the toughest challenges. People like fixers, companies like fixers, they become invaluable because there are so few of them out there and they always come through. The challenge n being known as a “McGyver” is that    everything possible can begin to get passed on to you. There will be times when you have to say no, challenges that are not a challenge but simply people shrugging their own responsibilities. The idea is to be the one to find solutions to the challenges that no one else can, not to do everyone’s homework.

So the refined moral of the story? Take on the challenges that others are afraid or unwilling to do, but let everyone do their own homework.

There will always be people who will tell you; “it can’t be done”, “it shouldn’t be done”, “no one does that here”, “you don’t have the experience to do that”, etc. If you buy into any of that, it will be true.

‘Nah Sayers’, critics, cynics and those who focus on the problem will always be a part of the people bell-curve. There will also be people who will feel threatened by your ‘can do’ attitude because it will expose their comfort zone, their ignorance or their clinging on to some form of mediocrity. I’ve lost count of how many obstacles I’ve seen overcome simply because someone said, “it can’t be done”. If you buy into this kind of thinking, however, you’ll get exactly what you focus on…a brick wall!! Instead, use it to fuel the fire to find a solution, to prove how it can be done. When you do, you come out the other side a hero.

Don’t believe the hype of “it can’t be done”, instead use it to energize you toward the solution…the “how can it be done”.

What we focus on, we become. Are you focused on excellence?

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