Are you about effort or achievement?

“Effort is admirable, achievement is essential.”

This is what I heard the Fortune 500 CEO, John Chambers of CISCO Systems, say just before I went on to speak. I could have just stood up and said, “Well, that just about sums it up folks. Thanks for coming!”

I didn’t, of course, but he did pretty much say it all in that small sentence. I am so, so tired of our culture getting softer and softer around achievement. It is fair to say that the pendulum has swung far too far in the “well, at least they are trying” direction!

‘Trying’ doesn’t get it done. Every kid on the team DOES NOT deserve a trophy because they tried or just showed up. That’s just not the way the world works.

May I suggest that we get back to achievement as a primary indicator of success? Granted, achievement can be defined in many ways, but just trying is not enough. ‘At least you made the effort’ is not a compliment. ‘It’s the thought that counts’ is pathetic weakness.

To what extent do you sometimes hide behind the ‘at least I tried’ excuse? How often do we feel bad when everyone doesn’t feel good? It’s normal and necessary to fail; to miss the mark; to fall short. It’s what teaches us and allows our minds to stretch. Get back to feeling the strain and stretch that real achievement requires! Aggressively shed the need and desire to feel comfortable and get about achieving.

Here’s how:

1. Get clear about what achievement looks like.
2. Set a measurable goal around it so when the time comes you have clarity around the achievement.
3. Set the target at an uncomfortable reach/distance. Make yourself feel the stretch.
4. Surround yourself with people that drive you and cradle you.
5. Develop intolerance for simply making the effort.
6. Go crazy celebrating when achievement is realized!


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