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In Leadership, Results Are Limitless

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. - Publilius Syrus


Results are limitless. That is not a supposition. That is a fact. Leaders who do not believe that do not understand the power of leadership to achieve impressive results. Leaders who believe it and live by their beliefs have an unmatched advantage over those leaders who do not. 

To begin to understand how and why results-are-results are limitless, consider these facts: 

* In 1878, Jean Bouillaud, member of the French Academy of Sciences, said upon hearing a demonstration of Thomas Edison's phonograph, "It is quite impossible that the noble organs of human speech could be replaced ignoble, senseless metal."

* In 1899, Charles H. Duell (Commissioner of U.S. Office of Patents.), urging President William McKinley to abolish his office, said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented."   

* A 1909 article in Scientific American said, "The automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced."   

* Popular Mechanics said in March 1949: "Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps only weight 11/2 tons." 

The point is not that experts are wrong. Experts, we know, have been wrong countless times. The fact is not that things change. That is obvious. The truth is this: BECAUSE THINGS CHANGE, RESULTS ARE LIMITLESS. IN OTHER WORDS, WHATEVER RESULTS YOU ARE ACHIEVING, YOU CAN ALWAYS ACHIEVE MORE.

This may seem like a non sequitur. Leaders know that things change. But many leaders I have met do not make the connection and do not realize that results are limitless. 

But there is a connection -- a profound connection. And leaders who do not make that connection, do not live that connection, are giving short shrift to their leadership and the people they lead. 

Living by the results-are-limitless philosophy can set you apart as a leader who consistently gets results, no matter the challenge you face. 

Start to take a small but well-defined step to manifest results-are-limitless leadership. 

(1) Identify. Find one thing you think is NOT BEING QUESTIONED. Make sure it is something people believe has "reached the limit of its development."  It may be a product or features of a product. It may be the way your organization is structured. It may be a successful engineering program. 

(2) Question. 

Treat it as if its fundamental premise were false. Can you shoot holes in the logical reasons for its existence? If it is not broken, see what would happen if you broke (change) it ó with one end in mind, achieving more results. 

(3) Change. 

See if you can find answers that will either replace what you are questioning or improve it. 

(4) Continue. 

Do not look at this as an academic assignment. It is not homework. It is the beginning of making the credo part of the DNA of your leadership.

Repeat: This is a leadership endeavor. Decide who are the cause leaders you need to make the change happen. Talk to them about how they would take leadership to affect that change. You should not only have "What if ... " discussions but, more importantly, "Why not ... "discussions. 

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