I have had the amazing opportunity over the years to mentor as well as lead some amazing young leaders. There is not much more rewarding than seeing young leaders grow, develop, soar and ultimately thrive. Maybe it’s selfish, but one of the many things I love about this, is the personal growth I gain from it.  You can not teach, lead, or mentor without growing yourself. It just happens.

Over the years, I have seen trends as well as consistent themes young leaders are growing through or struggling with. This past week reminded me of some lessons I learned years ago, and still try and leverage often. I love this:

The people at the top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder! – Malcolm Gladwell

I don’t want to dump this topic on “millennials”, I don’t think it’s a generational topic. I think this topic is a human nature topic – our natural born tendency to want or desire the easy way out. The path of least resistance. Now, we can often over complicate this topic. Many can get off on topics of “Work Smarter – Not Harder”. And, many times I can agree with much of that approach. Smarter is great! OR, maybe I can say – don’t be an idiot, of course be smart with your work and efforts. But the simple fact is this – Work Hard.

There are no processes, no technology advances, no systems or hip new apps that remove the need for pure, raw, effort.

The other day, I had a great discussion with an amazing young leader. This leader was having a rough day, they just got “cut” from a opportunity because they didn’t perform at the level they should of. After a fairly long discussion, and listening to them explain all the issues, and challenges around situation I politely interrupted them and offered a different perspective. I basically told them that they didn’t work hard enough. This opportunity they were invited to be a part of was a big deal – they needed to come into it extremely prepared. They needed to have everything rehearsed, memorized, practiced…practiced…practiced, and then even more practiced. And you know what – they didn’t do any of that. This was not a skills issue. This was not a systems or process issue. This was a simple fact that they did not work hard enough.

A way to understand this is look at Kobe Bryant. It would be really easy to just think Kobe is a natural. God given gifts that make him one of the greatest of all times. And you know what – that might be true. However, without his insane focus, work ethic and the fact that he worked harder than everyone else, those gifts would have never become what they became. Kobe practiced more than any of his team mates. Hours before any of the other team showed up, Kobe was shooting. Kobe was running drills while others were sleeping. Kobe would shoot the same shot for over an hour, alone in the gym. The same shot! Home at 2:30am after a travel day, and at the gym at 7:30am…the rest of the team showed up at 10:30am.

People want to BE Kobe, but not willing to DO what Kobe does. 

Replace the name Kobe, and insert the one that fits your situation. You see, so much of what makes that person the person they are – are the things you don’t see. Be motivated to outwork others. Be willing to do what others are not willing to do. There is just no way around this basic principal, you must work hard.

shut-up-and-hustle-min