Issue #9 - Superpower Behaviors
In my nearly three decades in business, I've noticed a few behaviors that act as superpowers that catapult people that practice them to the mountaintops of their profession. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but three of these Superpower Behaviors are: Discipline, Responsiveness, and Reliability.
The combination of these characteristics results in a person who operates with a great deal of autonomy (you can easily delegate tasks and projects to them), has a strong bias for action (they deliver results), and who is continually improving (they're learning machines).
Over the long-term, hard work outperforms talent. And the combination of the two is nearly unbeatable (people like Kobe Bryant serve as well-known examples of this). Training yourself to do things even when you don't want to leads to steady gains that compound dramatically over time.
We all know the challenge of staying disciplined. Performing tasks and actions consistently over time is hard. We face burnout. We get distracted. Life overwhelms us. But sticking to a routine, especially tied to a goal that we hope to achieve, greatly increases the chances of success. I've seen this proven time and again across many disciplines.
This may be my most controversial take here, but I'm referring to how timely you are in following-up with people. Others have mentioned to me on more than one occasion that the most successful people they know are also often the ones who respond most quickly to calls, emails, and messages.
In an age of information saturation and frequent 'ghosting', a prompt reply is unexpected and differentiating. I think it also signals the value that a person places on other humans and their respect for their time. Yes, people are busy, but perhaps those that prioritize human connection have learned that in many cases "luck" tends to fall into their lap more often than it does for others.
By reliability, I mean doing what you say you are going to do when you say you'll do it. And, if you can't do that, providing sufficient and proactive notice along with updated expectations to anyone who is waiting on your output. I think this behavior is key because most of us are busy and having to continue to take up even a small amount of brain power to remember to check-in on things creates a drag on efficiency.
And, surprisingly, very few people actually are reliable so when someone is, they stand out and often get a lot more responsibility a lot sooner from others in their organization and network.
So, there you have it...
In your professional life, if you come across someone who regularly demonstrates even two of these three Superpower Behaviors, watch their trajectory over time and if they don't work for you and you're in a hiring role, do everything you can to bring them onto your team!
A Related Story...
I'm a big fan of Humans of New York, a site that captures and highlights remarkable stories from 'everyday' people. The most recent story, linked below, reminded me of some of the themes I wrote about in this newsletter and I thought I'd share it with you. I hope that you enjoy it.
NOTE: When you click the link below you will need to scroll to the bottom and click on the "Show More Stories" link so that you can see the article beginning with "(1/13) 'It's time for the show.'" and then work your way back up the page and through the story.