How To Lay A Successful Foundation One Day At A Time

by  Paul LaRue  |  Leadership Development
How To Lay A Successful Foundation One Day At A Time

Have you ever had one of those aha moments? One of those that you look back and know you should have noticed a long time ago?

I had one this week while watching my four stepkids in their weekly karate sessions.

Over the past year, I have seen the progression of them learning the basics as they attained their yellow, then their orange belt in two different age levels.

Now that they’re ready to step up to the purple belt level, the stakes are higher and the training becomes more intense.

Over the course of these months I’ve seen the various routines and moves be practiced over and over. I always knew the moves would come together at some point. whether they were for range of motion, strength, or actual defensive moves. This week I saw even more how those foundations have been well laid, rehearsed to come together to a great symphony of martial motions and routines.

In realizing the thought of the basics of laying solid foundations, I also thought of my own son and his theater pursuits. Through all of the script memorization, choreography and mental rehearsal of getting into character, it is thrilling to see the tapestry of hard work pay off in a great production either at his school or in the local community theater.

Watching success in the making does not happen by accident. As leaders we must work tirelessly to lay solid foundations of fundamental principles in order to gain that modest amount of success on which more success is built. Every day we can shore up the foundation or cause it to crumble. Here are three anchors to hold true to in your leadership roles:

  • Grounding Of Core Values – Knowing who and what you are is vital to ensure you don’t become something you can’t identify down the road. When organizations and leaders drift, the whole boat and crew goes with them. Core values can be the abstract words that are given a head-nod, or the firm guardrails placed to ensure you can speed down the road safely intact. Shore these up and commit to infusing them into every touch point of your culture and systems. My stepkids’ dojo teaches values such as rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, and honor and intertwine them with their physical training.
  • Fundamentals Of Character – Regardless of what position a person is, anyone with a rogue character can undermine an organization. From the hiring process through training and beyond, companies that focus on building character and integrity throughout their people have less aberrant behavior and more people committed to doing things right. Systems and strategic plans will always come apart with the wrong character, whereby a solid character will enhance the values and mission already in play.
  • Basics Of Execution – My son practices his part daily and then twice daily the week before the big performance. Rehearsals are stopped and started again in the pursuit of getting the part just right. In our organizations, it’s those parts (there are no small parts, just small actors) that may operate separately at times but in large come together for a great performance that wows our audience, our customers, and sometimes even ourselves. In sports, business, symphony, or the medical profession, all the training done right and perfected will soon come together and create the desired result.

My aha moment for you as we close 2015 and look toward 2016 is this: What are the foundations you are laying down?

If you’ve laid them down and not seen measurable results, keep the faith. Those pieces ultimately come to fruition, much like the bamboo plant that for months never sprouts but then shoots up for 90 days of explosive growth. Those roots needed time to grow and be ready to nourish the plant to take on the exponential growth over that period.

If you haven’t laid any solid foundations yet, now is the time. Don’t wait for 2016 to start. Begin today, modestly, but lay down something that will stick today. Leadership is not the momentary height of success, but the steady plodding of values, character, and execution in small incremental steps that bring lasting influence to those around you.

Develop a daily mindset that makes your foundations solid and keeps them solid. When those days of disruption come, you’ll help your organization and your people weather those storms and still stand for your values at the end of the day.

What is the first step you plan to take in laying a successful foundation?
Photo Credit: Morguefile

About The Author

Articles By paul-larue
Paul LaRue is the creator of The UPwards Leader and author of “Leadership LIFT: Take Your Leadership to New Heights”. Paul draws off of his years in senior leadership to pursue his passion – to enable leaders to increase their positive influence in their world.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John E. Smith  |  22 Dec 2015  |  Reply

Hi, Paul – good post:)

I agree with almost everything you have said about the development nature of mastering a skill. Your observations of how learning comes together over a period of time are spot on.

The three elements you list are indeed essential and I particularly appreciate your drawing a clear distinction between values and character. While the two are closely related, they are not the same thing.

I might hold a particular value, but how I respond when that value comes into question reveals my character. Some values we hold are never truly challenged, so that question of how we will actually behave with regard to that value may never be posed.

This also provides a point for reflection: If our values are not challenged, how do we know we value what we say we value?

Maybe holding a particular value compells us to seek out situations in which we will take a stand.

What do you think?


Paul LaRue  |  22 Dec 2015  |  Reply

I agree, John. It’s like the analogy of the tea bag – you never know what’s truly in it until it’s in hot water…

If our values are never challenged, we may not know what we stand for and then become something we “can’t identify down the road.”

I think our values can compel us to seek to challenge them but can also make us complacent to live lives that insulate them and squelch growth. If my kids don’t step out of themselves and challenge the application of their training and values in their karate lessons, they will never grow and progress and their participation will not be relevant any more. This serves as a leadership application as well.

Love the input John, thank you!


John E. Smith  |  22 Dec 2015  |  Reply


It’s why we cannot afford to only read and listen to those who say what we already agree with. Our values are confirmed through a process of tempering through conflict, not by being comfortably and consistently reinforced by those with whom we feel affinity.

Good stuff in this post:)


Join The Conversation