Set your goal, then relentlessly pursue it

In the sports world, there is a clearly defined champion each year. Every team strives to be the one that finishes on top, but most don’t make it. Many teams have good seasons and might be satisfied with that, but only one is the true No. 1.

The question to ask yourself is, what is your goal? Are you trying to be the No. 1 player in your industry? Or are you happy with just having the equivalent of a good season? A lot of you might say you are aiming for No. 1, but are you really putting in the effort to get there?

Here are four observations on what it takes to get to the top.

Continuous improvement. Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, has a coach. A top-five quarterback this year and one of the best quarterbacks of all time has a coach and works with him to get better. The road to the top requires long hours of identifying every flaw in your organization and then working tirelessly to eliminate those flaws. Once you are on top, you have to work even harder, because all of your competitors will be using your success as the new benchmark.

Look ahead. Winners identify trends before anyone else and are able to take advantage of that knowledge. If you are working on continuous improvement, you’ll obtain what you need to move quicker than your competitors. Why?

Because you will have networked more than the next guy, talked to more of your customers and interacted with your employees on the front lines. Steve Jobs of Apple was ahead of the competition with almost every product he launched. His few failures were partly because he was too far ahead and the market wasn’t ready.

Desire. If you don’t have the desire to be No. 1, then don’t expect to be No. 1. To be a champion, you have to have the heart of a champion. There’s nothing wrong with just being a “good” business, but don’t try to fool yourself by saying you want to be the best when you don’t really have the desire to do what it takes to get there.

Commitment. One clue that you might be lacking the desire to be the best in your industry is a lack of commitment. If you are only doing the minimum to get by, you are probably not committed to being No. 1.

With the talented CEOs who are out there, it would be almost impossible to work fewer hours than they do and expect to beat them. Consider the success of the likes of Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page. They are leading some of the most successful companies in our generation and work long hours to make it happen.
If you want to be No. 1, you have to ask yourself: “Do I have what it takes to win it all?”

Fred Koury is president and CEO at Smart Business Network