The Weakest Link

October 5th, 2016 | Posted in Effectiveness, Fit Leader, Leadership Fitness, success by

Let’s start with a POP QUIZ:

What’s 2,446,708 X 11,567 X 6.72 X 0?

Pretty simple, huh? I bet you even came up with the correct answer without using a calculator.

How about another mental challenge? This one comes from one of my favorite blogs (Farnam Street):

Suppose you were trying to become the best basketball player in the world. You’ve got the following things going for you:

You’re 6’9″, quick and skillful.

You live in a city that reveres basketball and you have parents who care about your goals.

You were the player of the year two years in a row.

You’re selected as the second overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.

A no-brainer, right? Most of us would say this individual has a great shot at becoming one of the most successful players in the world.

Until, we add one more piece of information:

You’ve developed a cocaine habit.

What are the odds now?

This, unfortunately is a true story. Leonard Bias was a basketball prodigy who died of a cocaine overdose after he was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1986.

One of the take-aways from Leonard’s story is that anything times zero is still zero. It doesn’t matter how large the string of numbers preceding it, as in the mathematical equation shown above.

In many aspects of our lives, all of our hard work, focus on continuous improvement and even good fortune may amount to nothing in the end if there is a weak link in the chain.

In multiplicative systems, all factors must be working to get the positive result we intend.

Take General Motors, founded in 1908. At one point, GM commanded a 50% market share, and for many years was the dominant producer of automobiles in the world.

Then, in 2008, due to years of financial mismanagement, GM ended up in bankruptcy (leaving its shareholders with zero), despite all of the positive aspects of its leadership up until that time.

Or, take an up-and-coming young leader who aspires to climb the organizational ladder. This leader has a great resume and great experience.

The “only” problem is that this aspiring leader is weak when it comes to getting along with other people, and often steps on others to get ahead.

This last factor in the equation amounts to a zero, and this zero can easily negate everything else.

What is your weakest link? What opportunities exist for you to remove any weak links or zeros in the equation of your life?

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