We hear about vision. Passion. Expertise. Connections. Out-of-the-box creativity. Goal-setting. Persistence. All very important ingredients to leadership and success, no doubt.
But none are as central as…and, in fact, all will take their marching orders from…Conviction.
By conviction I am not talking about a prison record. What I mean is a deep persuasion that something is right, and must be done.
A leader is convinced that an idea, and course of action, must be pursued. This conviction drives decision, promotes action, accepts risk, overcomes doubt, and draws others into the endeavor. If necessary, it walks through walls.
Conviction develops over time, through both positive and negative experiences, through seeing the successes and failings of others. Eventually, it seeps into your soul and you become persuaded that you MUST _________ (fill in the blank).
The best marketing will also draw its inspiration from conviction – that the company, or product, or service, is the best. That it must be known. This is the wellspring of true (not manufactured) word-of-mouth marketing – the conviction has now spread, and is spreading, to the audience.
This is not only true in business. A parent is, above all things, a leader – taking a little life and shaping and molding it into a full-fledged adult member of society. This requires conviction – that the greatest impact we have may well be through others, that the next generation is more important than my immediate gratification, that the hard (and often unglamorous) work of building now will bear fruit in years to come.
Conviction, of course, can be a double-edged sword. Some tyrannical people manage to convince themselves that they are right…and seek to destroy others in the process of carrying out their ruinous beliefs. Some can even inspire others, through the power of conviction, to take leave of their senses and drink Kool-Aid in a forsaken jungle. But far more (who do not make the 6:00 pm news) build businesses, create charities, donate organs, mentor young people, and care for the sick – because it is right. Because they must.
Those that manage others may or may not have this restless level of conviction. Those who perform tasks may actually do their work (less effectively, I’d argue) without it. Leaders, however, are a different story.
Conviction does not guarantee success. But a lack of it almost guarantees failure. Over the years, I’ve come to a number of juncture points where I’ve had to make bold – sometimes disruptive and costly – decisions. In each case, it was conviction that ruled the day. When you believe that a thing is right – when you are compelled to move forward no matter the cost – then you stand the best chance of success.
Conviction leads you to take a course. It feeds into persistence, which drives you to stay the course. And that’s the shortest path to results.
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