Over the past 12 months I have been working with a number of people from a sporting background teaching me a great deal about an element of leadership not learnt in the professional work environment.

A key learning from this experience is understanding that great leaders don’t tie their sense of self-worth to the results they achieve. They are humble when they win and persistent when they lose.  After winning they recognise they are potentially only one game away from losing, and likewise when they lose they recognise that with hard work and persistence they have the ability to turn their performances around.

Elite thinkers place a high level of importance on getting their inputs right.  Some people refer to this as habits, though I am not a big fan of this word as it is too often associated with negative movements such as being lazy, smoking, and drinking. I prefer to focus on the inputs.

Inputs are the things I eat, how much I sleep, how often I exercise, how regularly I plan my week/day, how often I have a staff one on one, how often I do my paperwork, how regularly I call my clients etc.  They are not directly tied to achieving a result though through a shifted focus to perform positive inputs with consistency and of a high quality, great results eventually follow.

To use the basketball analogy, my training efforts, diet, fitness, rebounds made, free throws hit and communication are all inputs rather than the amount of shots I score or the games I win.

Inputs are the controllable. They are things I know that I am in full control of executing.

In comparison, the result is the by-product of both external factors such as competition, economy, luck and controllable factors such as lifelong learning, experience, and getting the day to day inputs right. You can’t control the external factors so to some degree you can’t control the result.  However you can increase the likelihood of getting a successful result by consistently laying down the right inputs and committing to learning, growth and progress.

Get the inputs right and your probability of success will increase. Being result driven and focused churns energy, develops a fear of failure, often resulting in procrastination and perfectionism. Kym made this point beautifully recently in his blog titled progress over perfection.