How big do you dream? How fast do you move? How relentlessly do you innovate? I think of Apple on the subject of innovation and their devotion to offering the world “insanely great” products. I just bought my daughter an iPod. She was extraordinarily persistent in her asking – smart kid. Such an array of iPods to select from: the Shuffle, the incredibly sleek Nano, the U2 version of the iPod. Rather than resisting on its laurels with the massive success of this product, Apple just keeps innovating, reaching for something even better.
I did a speech for the Young Presidents’ Organization the other night. Talked about leadership and how the best get better. Shared how companies can achieve stunning success by making a few simple
changes and course corrections. One young entrepreneur came up to me for a chat. I asked him for the best idea he’s learned for winning. “Always be pushing the envelope,” he replied.
Sure being a leader (at work or at home or in your community) is a lonely act. The very definition of being a leader means you are out in front – with no one else. Taking the road less traveled. Taking
responsibility for results in a world that loves to blame and deny responsibility. Seeing possibilities that no one else has yet dreamed of. Challenging the way things are. If you were in the herd, thinking and behaving like everyone else, then you wouldn’t be a leader – you’d be a follower. And that’s no fun.
So push the envelope. Refuse to accept anything remotely close to mediocrity. Let go of the chains that have bound you to the ordinary. And definitely, leave the crowd. The only place you’ll reach if you follow the crowd is the exit. Stand for your best. Commit to excellence. Become massively innovative and wear your passion on your sleeve. They might call you different or weird or even crazy. But please remember, every great leader (or visionary or brave thinker) was initially laughed at. Now they are revered.