Over my thirty some years in the marketing communications industry, I’ve seen marketers make some amazingly brilliant moves. Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and a few others come to mind. Likewise, I’ve seen people make real boneheaded mistakes. Remember New Coke? Something that has always puzzled me is when leaders fall flat simply because they did nothing. They failed to launch.
Now, I understand that there are sometimes reasons making it impossible to act. A complete lack of financial resources, for example, although this is often an excuse for an inability to properly prioritizes. A new car is not more important than a powerful and effective web site.
The recent passing of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, caused me to remember our astronauts and the courage to crawl into a tin can attached to millions of pounds of rocket fuel. That’s courage. These people took huge, I mean HUGE, risks. They did things that no one had ever done and went places no one had ever gone. Sadly, several died in the process, but that didn’t stop the program.
I once had the honor of spending a few hours with Apollo XIII astronaut Jim Lovell. Admittedly, I was star struck. Here I was, in a car for a few hours with an American here. For those of you who might not know Lovell’s story, he was the Commander of the 1970 moon mission that was aborted when an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the craft in the darkness of space. Despite the lack of electricity, heat, water and breathable air, the crew returned sagely four days later.
In one of my lucid moments, I asked him how scary it was to be trapped, the three of them, more than 200,000 miles from home, knowing that they may never see their families again. His response was quick and clear. “We had no time to be afraid, and we weren’t alone. We knew that our team at home was working day and night to find a solution to our predicament. We had work to do and decisions to make.”
What’s the point to all of this? The point is that sometimes we just have to make decisions and do something. You may not have an answer to every question or a solution to every concern, but you have to act.
As a marketer in the economic development and AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industries, I bring my clients ideas and suggestions based on experience, research, and industry intelligence, but it’s up to them to make the go or no go decision. This is where leaders excel and losers choke. Some people just can’t move forward without a 100% guarantee of success. Unfortunately, in business, no such guarantee exists.
Real leaders gather intelligence, seek opinions, and then make decisions, accepting the possibility that they could be wrong. They also know that their decision could be hugely successful. That’s leadership!
Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
At Brand Acceleration, we’ve seen companies and communities, led by strong leaders; have us develop great web sites, brochures, and effective outbound communications programs that generate outstanding results. We’ve also seen ineffective “leaders” who ponder, consider, waffle, and reconsider every possibility while competitors kick their butts. Like a deer in the headlights, they freeze, ending up as road kill.
Which best describes you? Are you a procrastinator, accomplishing little or nothing or are you a leader with the vision, foresight and courage to launch, regardless of outcome? Think of Neil Armstrong and the fact that his footprints will forever be on the surface of the moon.
I’d love to hear from you, too. Feel free to share your thoughts and personal experiences below.