Some of the most practical management and leadership lessons come to us\n\neveryday. We may not regard them as such but they are presenting\n\nfundamentals in both personal and organizational development. \n\nWhere can you find these lessons? In the sports pages of your daily\n\nnewspaper or on the screens of your favorite sports shows. Everyday you\n\nwill find stories about athletes who push themselves to the limits to\n\nachieve stardom or just the opposite, athletes with plenty of raw\n\ntalent but no brains, nor sense of restraint so they end up frittering\n\ntheir gifts away through drink, drugs or sheer laziness. \n\nYou will also find stories of coaches who set the right example for\n\ntheir teams by setting standards for athletics and teaching to those\n\nstandards. And on the professional side you will see stories of owners\n\nwho build organizations designed to put coaches and players first so\n\nthat the team wins. And of course you will find stories of owners who\n\ncare only about polishing their egos at the expense of everyone else.\n\nTaken together these stories provide valuable insights into character,\n\nmotive, energy and commitment. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n Elements of Performance\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nUltimately sports are about performance. There are three elements to\n\nperformance at the highest level: drive, determination and discipline.\n\nYou will find these elements in every successful athlete as well as\n\nevery successful organization. \n\nWhile drive, determination and discipline are essential internal\n\nmotivators, they can be taught to the entire team and ultimately the\n\nentire organization. In doing so these elements will help create a\n\nculture where people can and do make a positive difference.\n\nDrive. How do you define it? Drive is what gets you up in\n\nthe morning and at your given task. Drive derives from the inner\n\nmotivation to succeed. It is your internal motor that keeps you going\n\nand focused on what you need to do. For athletes, this means training,\n\nbe it lifting, running or stretching as well as practicing a skill. For\n\nemployees, drive is our desire to come to work and achieve. Our\n\nexercises may be mental, such as reading and studying. The key to\n\ndrive, however, is universal. It is your desire to succeed. You develop\n\na goal and you strive for it. Athletes want to win; employees want to\n\nwin by doing their jobs well so their team succeeds. Goals are what\n\nmake drive click. It\u2019s like turning on the ignition to your car but\n\nleaving it in park. You have no place to go and you are wasting gas.\n\nDetermination. If drive is your motor then\n\ndetermination is the fuel \u2013 your will to succeed. Success in sports\n\nrequires the will to persevere. If you are a hockey player, you don\u2019t\n\nstep onto the ice without learning to skate or spending hours upon\n\nhours on stick handling drills. Your determination is honed by years of\n\npractice. Call it \u201cstick to it ness.\u201d While others are relaxing or\n\npartying, you are working at your craft. Determination is, or should\n\nbe, nurtured in school. You choose your path \u2013 engineering, science, or\n\nthe arts \u2013 because you have an interest in it. Where it leads you is up\n\nto you. Determination is what you make of your talents and how you\n\napply them. Your determination will dictate to some degree how far you\n\ngo in your chosen field. Your determination will steel your pursuit of\n\nyour goals. The more you want to achieve the more events and\n\ncircumstances will stand in your way. For example, you will always find\n\nsomeone more talented than yourself; how you prepare yourself for that\n\ncompetition will depend upon your determination.\n\nDiscipline. Engaging your drive and fueling your\n\ndetermination comes down to discipline. In other words, how badly do\n\nyou want to achieve your goals? For an athlete who wants to compete in\n\nOlympics, discipline is continuous. It pushes you to endure grueling\n\ntraining and eating only the right foods along with preparing the mind\n\nto compete. Discipline is all-consuming. In the workplace, discipline\n\nis not simply showing up. It is the rigor that you apply to doing a job\n\nand doing it well. It also means not cutting orders for expediency but\n\ngiving full measure. Discipline is not easy; that\u2019s why it takes\n\ndiscipline.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n Pushing the Limits\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWhile it is necessary to demonstrate drive, determination and\n\ndiscipline, personal success depends upon an ability to create new\n\nopportunities as well as to adapt to changing conditions. Risk is an\n\nelement of success as is courage. All athletes demonstrate risk when\n\nthey put themselves on the line to compete. The risk may come in the\n\nform of ego, as in, \u201cDo I have what it takes to compete against the\n\nbest?\u201d Pro golfers feel this every time they put tee to ground as they\n\nenter a tournament. Courage may enter in competition that exacts\n\nphysical pain, be it football or tour cycling. Injuries are part of the\n\ncompetitive process.\n\nDespite such limitations, keeping drive, determination and\n\ndiscipline in mind will focus you on both the immediate tasks as well\n\nas the long-term goals. That is a lesson that all athletes eventually\n\nlearn: as you train your body, your mind conforms, too. Your mind works\n\ntwo ways. It sets the body in motion, but it also provides you with\n\nexcuses to slack off. By adhering to the rigor of competition, be it\n\nsport or business, you eventually develop a system that allows you to\n\ncompete at a high level but also achieve things you never thought\n\npossible, be it a gold medal or an all time sales record, or brand-new\n\nprocess that no one had ever envisioned. \n\n\n\nAnd that\u2019s exciting as anything you might read in the sports pages.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe author would like to thank Dave Shand, co host of Off the Field, WTKA (Ann Arbor, MI), for his insights into drive, determination and discipline.