...by which Talent becomes Ability No matter how much leadership development, management training or personal coaching we attend or participate in, successful leadership must always include a discussion of discipline. This reference by Roy L. Smith is a great example of the crucial role discipline plays in our success as leaders. In one of my earliest newsletters I spoke of talent and what it really takes to create the ability to be a successful leader. In the years since I have had the pleasure of working with successful entrepreneurs, organizational leadership teams and not-for-profit leaders and boards. In every case, the ability to be disciplined leaders contributes to their sustainable success. I recently had the privilege of attending a seminar by a fellow coach who spoke of the value of 10,000 hours. If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers” (previewed below) you know about the 10,000 hours. He speaks to the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of purposeful practice to become an expert in your field. If we are to be expert leaders, we need to have practiced successful leadership for at least that many hours. In simpler terms, 10,000 hours breaks down to nearly 3 hours per day for 10 years! It means that for at least 3 hours a day, you have the discipline to be the leader you need to be so that it becomes second nature to you. Therein lies the issue with leadership development as we used to know it. You cannot go to a class or attend a seminar and walk out a leader, no more than you can take a few golf lessons and play like a pro. When professional golfers practice their golf swing at the practice range, each shot is taken with a purpose in mind. Each shot has a meaning to how they are going to leverage their abilities to win the next tournament they enter. When I go to the practice range to practice my mechanics, it is also with my purpose in mind. I play golf to enjoy myself. That is my purpose. Therefore, my time on the practice range is to become good enough to enjoy myself as I play (that usually means staying out of the woods, water, other fairways etc!). Each shot in practice is with that purpose in mind making the practice time meaningful to success on the course. So too, leadership is also about leading with a purpose. I recently gave a presentation titled “Keeping your business alignment with your purpose”. One key aspect of this idea is to know what your purpose is to begin with. It is entirely possible we became organizational leaders without a specific purpose in mind. Possibly our purpose is still unfolding as we continue to exercise our leadership abilities. And possibly our purpose has changed as we evolve as leaders through our 10,000 hour leadership journey. Whatever the case, having the discipline to make each hour, each day, each week as a leader count towards becoming the expert leader your followers are looking to you for must become your purpose. How are you keeping that refining fire lit? Lead Well!