In Life, We are All Blind Mountain Climbers

Whenever the topic comes up regarding “inspirational people,” I always think first about one person: Erik Weihenmayer, the most inspirational individual I have ever met. You may have heard of Erik. He is a blind man, having gone totally blind by the age of 13 from a progressive disorder of the retina. Erik, however, never let blindness get in the way of living a full life. While he is a skier and marathon runner, among many pursuits, his real passion is mountain climbing. Erik became the first, and is still the only blind man to conquer the “7 Summits” — the tallest mountains on each continent. He is the only blind climber to have summited Mt. Everest.

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Be a Hero in Delivery, not in Promises

The country’s recent SEA Games debacle once again illustrated a cardinal rule of effective business management: “Be a hero in delivery, not in promises.” Or, said another way: “Deliver or over-deliver what you commit to; never, ever over-promise and under-deliver!” I’ve seen it so many times in a row it is hard to keep track. But once again, many of the sports leaders in the country failed to learn this fundamental lesson of any well-run business. Good leaders call out reality. They know their business. They put real numbers on the table and then deliver them. They don’t brag and put out unachievable figures, celebrate the braggadocio and then look like fools when they miss by a mile.

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Never Confuse Niceness with Weakness

Human nature can have its flaws. We sometimes project one thing on another when the linkage is all wrong. We see a wildly barking dog and we equate the bark with the bite. Very often, as we learn, it’s not the case. The bark is worse than the bite. Naturally, we equate tough talk with tough people. Again, not always the case. Donald Trump talks tough. But beyond the mere fact he can physically stand up, there is little evidence to suggest he has anything resembling a spine. From hanging on Daddy’s coattails to get his start in business; to dodging military service with the most questionable of excuses; to blaming others and refusing to have the strength to admit mistakes or take responsibility; the man is a poster boy for weakness. No, tough talk does not equate with tough people.

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The Dark Side of Social Media

Like all things in life, social media such as Facebook and Twitter are double-edged swords, meaning they cut both ways. There is a good side and a bad side. There are many things to love about Facebook: being able to find old friends, keeping up with loved ones across the globe, making easy contact. It’s a long list of wonderful benefits. But these benefits come with a price: a loss of privacy. And, whether people realize it or not, we are being watched. Every single one of us. It’s way beyond stalkers and people who want to cheat or harm us. It’s those who invade our privacy and do damage, thinking they have every right to do so!

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The Oft-missing Piece of the Business Puzzle

One of the saddest and most debilitating lessons a young business leader can learn is to equate increasing intelligence with increasing complexity. To equate quality with the number of PowerPoint slides or pages in a memo. Nothing could be further from the truth. Winning in business, in some shape or form, always comes down to winning with people. Whether it is appealing to consumers with a product or service or driving one’s organization to peak performance, it is a human game. You must win with people to win in business.

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