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.