Leadership: Overcoming Obstacles in Business and in Life
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Leadership: Overcoming Obstacles in Business and in Life

Leadership: Overcoming Obstacles in Business and in Life

Success and failure are natural parts of life, both personally and professionally. To overcome life’s challenges and achieve lasting success, it’s important to start by being clear about our goals. This idea is similar to what Stephen Covey taught about “beginning with the end in mind,” which means picturing what success looks like.

No one can succeed at everything all the time. While aiming for perfection is good, I’ve developed a philosophy for my team at the National Academy of Athletics: Focusing on the effort we put in, rather than just the outcomes, is key to achieving lasting success. Among my team of leaders, it’s clear that when they put their energy into reaching out, making calls, sending emails, attending meetings, and building real connections, the desired results naturally happen. We have found that only with enough effort does the desired result begin to appear.

Instead of seeing things as “problems,” we can think of them as “challenges.” This perspective helps us see ways to overcome obstacles instead of letting them defeat us. This is best done by turning our stumbling blocks into stepping-stones. Think about Thomas Edison, who saw each “failure” as a necessary step toward creating the light bulb. Setbacks can help us see things in new ways, think creatively, and come up with fresh ideas.

Failure isn’t permanent until we start blaming others. When things go wrong, it’s important to take responsibility, not to point fingers. It’s about learning from mistakes and having the courage to try again. During my time with NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana, he taught me to “Fail Fast and Fail Forward.” This means we should learn from our mistakes, stay focused on the next step, and keep growing. Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can. By looking ahead, admitting when we’re wrong, and trying to not repeat mistakes, we can reach success more quickly.

The most successful people on our team face misses, failures, and setbacks, just like everyone else. But what makes them different is their determination and commitment. They keep taking shots, swinging the bat, and giving their all. It is easy to get caught up and analyze every little detail. While I believe that reviewing and analyzing obstacles are very important, we want to stay away from what I call “paralyzation by analyzation.” Don’t overthink it. At some point, you just must be willing to make a move, make something happen. More often than not, doing the work pays off.

Having clear goals guides my team toward success. A crucial part of this is setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals—goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In my role at the National Academy of Athletics, I’ve seen that once we set these goals, the next pivotal step lies in channeling focus, infusing energy, and thoughtfully allocating resources.

When I was young, my mother shared a Chinese proverb: “Fall down seven times, get back up eight.” I’m grateful to my mom for teaching me that what matters most isn’t falling, but always getting up and doing our best. This is what brings happiness and success in life. Thanks, Mom.

Aaron Locks is the founder and CEO of the National Academy of Athletics, which provides recreational youth sports camps and programs designed to help kids of all abilities. Contact him at aaron@naofa.us or call 707-791-7593.

 

Published: September 5th, 2023

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