The Pursuit of Excellence, Part 3

In Part II, Ryan Hawk compares The Pursuit of Excellence for an individual to the Simon Sinek’s ‘infinite game’ theory. Being ahead or behind replaces winning or losing in the infinite game, and the competition is not another person, it is only yourself in the past.

Chapter 4: What Lights You Up

1. Love versus will. It’s not force of will that makes the best great, it’s love. “When you love something, it’s a bottomless pool of energy. Love is endless. Will is finite.” (Jerry Seinfeld)

2. The most useless question to ask: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ There is no end to our growth. “You’ve never arrived. You’re always becoming.” (J.J. Redick)

3. Find your Edison. Henry Ford’s encouragement from Thomas Edison about his ‘quadricycle’ gas motor car was a driving force for starting his own company. Who played this role in your life? Who believed in you before your believed in yourself? And as leaders, how can you encourage those around you to aim even higher?

4. Learning is the fuel for growth, and we learn not just by taking in information, but by trying and testing to discover new possibilities. Master your own process for taking information and inspiration to experimentation, practice and action. And then sharing the knowledge.

Chapter 5: The Power of Others

1. Bill Hewlett of Hewlett Packard led by being accessible and connected to his team – MBWA. 30 years after launching HP, he answered the phone to a 12-year-old asking for spare parts to build a frequency counter. He gave the boy the parts and a summer job building them. What company did this young man later found?

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Most people don’t get these experiences because the don’t ask. I’ve never found anybody who didn’t want to help me if I asked them for help… And when people ask me, I try to be as responsive and pay that debt of gratitude back.”

3. Beware the Dunning-Kruger effect. People overestimate their abilities. Don’t confuse luck with skill. Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth, especially when it’s hard. Stay coachable and be grateful to those who will challenge you and give feedback. Regularly question your assumptions and beliefs. Look at all sides and ask why you think what you think. How could you be wrong? And be willing to admit it when you don’t know.

4. Learning is a competitive advantage. In Greeks, dia-logos was a free flowing of meaning through the group, allowing the group to discover insights not attainable individually. Create a culture of healthy dialogue and discourse. It means asking for help, learning from others, asking everyone to show up to share their point of view and learn from dialogue. (Cleveland)

Chapter 6: The Confidence Flex

1. Confidence is a muscle to build. Do the hard stuff first. Plan your days to first take the one action that will create momentum for the rest of the day. Tackle that first. (Eat that Frog)

2. Tackle the fear around striving for your goals with preparation and practice. (Sasha Fierce)

3. Build your charisma by demonstrating the behaviors of charismatic people: Smile first. Focus on first impressions – look people in the eye, ask great questions, genuinely listen with interest. Be fully present. Don’t be negative about ideas or people – share excitement instead. Focus on others. (Gladstone-Disraeli 1886). Get to deeper questions quickly. Use humor.