Advance Leadership

by Rich Bishop – Stop accepting mediocre!


What Separates Great Leaders from Great Doers?

What Separates Great Leaders from Great Doers | Advance Leadership by Rich BishopThere were just a few seconds left, and the opponent was on the verge of scoring to win one of the biggest sporting events of the year. The end seemed inevitable. The crowd knew exactly what was about to happen. The millions watching at home knew it, too. Everyone expected the game to come to an end on the next play. They just didn’t see this coming…

Every day, leaders in business are put under pressure to win just like leaders on the sports field. There are deadlines to meet and goals to achieve if they expect the company to be a winner. Just like in sports, business leaders have to manage complex plays by their competitors and stakeholders in order to stay ahead. Emerging leaders show a knack for getting things done. The most productive employees are often the ones that get the most opportunities to advance. Chances are that you’ve seen the golden child of the organization… the one that rises quickly from one rank to the next because they can produce at a high level. But being a great doer only gets you a chance to be in the spotlight. You still have to execute under pressure.

The offense lined up with the ball in a formation that Malcolm had seen before. In fact, he had practiced defending a play that looked like this countless times… and was burned every time. He knew in his heart what was coming next and wasn’t about to be burned this time, even though millions of people watching were expecting it. Nerves can stop anyone’s body from performing the way they expect. Would the spotlight be too much for this rookie?

Competitive Calm

What separates great leaders from great doers is competitive calm – the ability to stay calm and perform under pressure. Stress and pressure on your body makes it go into a flight-or-flight mode. Extra testosterone and adrenaline shoots through our bodies and activates certain biological responses that help us in times of need. Picture the caveman being chased by the saber-tooth tiger – every little boost was needed. That caveman (or cavewoman) still lives in you today!

Competitive calm comes from preparation, experience, and focus.


Preparation allows you to anticipate what’s next and helps you to keep the situation in perspective. This new perspective calms us in times of stress. Athletes practice plays over and over again so they can overcome that fight-or-flight mode even when the spotlight is on. Being confident in what is coming next helps reduce the stress that the body is feeling. When the spotlight is on you, do you get nervous, or does your performance suffer or reach another level?

When the ball was snapped, Malcolm was calm because he thought he knew what was coming next. He sprinted to the spot where he had practiced for the last few days. If he was right, he might have a shot at stopping what seemed to be an inevitable touchdown. A few steps into his sprint, he wasn’t surprised when the ball was fired right to where he was going. He leapt into the air and felt the ball hit his chest. He held on for dear life as he was hit immediately. He hoped he could just hang on…

Preparation is a critical component to competitive calm, but it’s not the only one. Next week, we’ll look at the importance that experience and focus had on Malcolm’s play. Understanding it could just be the difference between you getting that promotion or being stuck in the same position.

In the meantime, ask yourself:

  • Am I fully prepared to reach my next goal?
  • Do I know exactly what is needed in order to reach that goal?
  • Have I anticipated what could go wrong in pursuing that goal?
  • If you have a major presentation coming, have you rehearsed it for at least 5 time the length of the presentation? For example, if you have a 10 minute time spot, have you prepped for at least 50 minutes? It may seem like overkill, but this is the type of preparation that separates great leaders from great doers.


How To Gain A New Perspective And Amp Your Performance

How to gain a new perspective and amp your performance | Advance LeadershipJohn Connor had been struggling in the ring lately. The boxer had been climbing the ranks but had virtually hit a wall in his development. He had lost his last two matches in dramatic fashion to opponents who seemed to know what he was going to do before he did it. He had to get whatever was causing this to be fixed before his next bout or his career was in jeopardy. How did they know what he was about to do in the ring? Was he somehow tipping them off? He had to get video of his fights so he could see what his opponents were seeing…

High-performing athletes like John Connor watch video of their performances over and over again in order to see themselves from another perspective. It helps to “step outside of themselves” in order to see things in a different light. The same lesson was taught in the famous seen in the movie, Dead Poet’s Society, where Mr. Keating stands on a desk in order to show his students how to see the world from a different angle. If you want to be successful, you have to make a routine of seeing yourself and the world around you from another perspective.

Self-Awareness is the Starting Point

You first have to be highly self-aware. High-performers are aware of their emotions, their actions, and the reactions of others around them. Self-aware leaders can:

  • Recognize when their emotions are causing them to act in a way that is preventing them from getting the result that they want. Are you getting “worked up”? Are your emotions controlling you rather than you controlling them? Once leaders can recognize when this happens, they can either step away from the situation until the emotion passes or work to change their emotions.
  • Recognize when their actions aren’t working for them. Are you getting the results that you want? If not, then find the thing that isn’t working… and it could very well be YOU. What isn’t working and why? Time to be brutally honest with yourself and question what you can do differently to change the result.
  • Read the reactions of others in response to what they are doing. Are people engaging with you or distancing themselves? Self-aware leaders can read subtle clues in the body language of others to determine if they are getting their point across. If not, they know that they have to change up their approach.

Having a strong level of self-awareness is the first step toward gaining a new perspective on your performance – it helps you realize that you need to review the tape.

Review the Tape

There are two main ways to review the tape of your performance: self-reflection and soliciting the feedback of others.


Self-awareness enables you to step outside of yourself and view yourself through a virtual “video replay”. It is crucially important for leaders in businesses, communities, and within families to be critical of their own performance so they can continue to tweak how they lead. Being able to step outside of yourself and be critically self-aware is like watching the video replay of your performance. Take the time at the end of the day to review what worked for you that day and what didn’t. Make adjustments like world-class athletes do and you will become world-class yourself!


The most underutilized way to help improve your performance is to ask for critical feedback from those around you. The thought of getting the opinions of others can make insecure leaders cower in fear. But strong leaders that want to reach new levels are eager to get others’ opinions. Self-awareness is effective for seeing yourself critically, but it’s never as strong as the feedback truly objective parties can provide. Enlist trusted advisers and mentors to help give a critique of your performance on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. It’s a sure way to grow!


If you want to be a world-class leader, then you have to be able to take a critical look at your performance like a world-class athlete. If you can keep reviewing your tape and making adjustments in your game plan, then there’s no end to what you can do. You just have to be willing to see yourself for what you really are. Can you handle it?


Leadership Quote of the Day

Your perspective on life is determined by what you fill your mind with.


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