The expression “raising the bar” comes from sport. To raise the bar indicates the setting of a new standard. What it often results in, is a new a new set of expectations.
Every-time I hear that expression, I am reminded of Sergei Bubka, the pole vaulter who broke the world record 35 times! The story goes that in the USSR, every breaking of the world record was rewarded with a bonus. Bubka bettered his records by simple margins (sometimes as little as one centimetre) and collected his bonuses. That is a side-story. The fact remains that he raised the bar, centimetre by centimetre, finally reaching what was considered unattainable heights.
Parallels in the business world
Quick, can you think of people who are good at raising the bar in your world? These are usually people who provide a new pathway for thought and action. There should be a few in your world. Your manager. A friend. A colleague. A spouse. You know them when you see them raising the bar relentlessly.
Take Satya Nadella for instance. Much has been written about him. I was quite taken by this statement of his when Microsoft overtook Apple as the most valuable company
“I would be disgusted if somebody ever celebrated our market cap”.Satya Nadella
His description of market cap as “not meaningful” and urging his troops to keep their ear on the ground and hands on the wheel, is quite something. I loved this read on what Bloomberg calls ‘Nadellaissance‘. That’s a new bar.
Another gentleman who has been a star in his own right is John Chambers, the former Chairman and CEO of Cisco. He took the company from $ 70 million to $40 billion in annual revenues. To me, CISCO’s pivots under his watch, from one stream to another is stellar! His story of what he learnt from his father when he fell into a rapid as a kid, is quite some lesson on managing change.
Both these men took charge of their businesses with quiet determination. That is something I learn from entrepreneurs whom I work with in my line of work. The better ones keep at it no matter how strong the headwind is. Entrepreneurship shapes people. So much so ,that last week I met a CEO of a large enterprise who was looking to hire entrepreneurs! His premise was simple: “these folks are ‘doers’ “, he said. I found later, that’s exactly what Airbnb did. Entrepreneurship is a catchment area for good leadership material.
Entrepreneurship is also a journey of continuous improvement and self-motivation. How does one stay motivated? Research says It’s not about information as much as it is about confidence, say researchers. Here is a line from the research mentioned above “No matter what type of struggling and unmotivated people Eskreis-Winkler and Fishbach worked with, whether it was adults who couldn’t get themselves to save or lose weight, or kids struggling to succeed at school, the same pattern held. ” I am not going to give away any more here. Suffice to say that it’s a good read!
And to round it off, here is a piece titled “How to not replace humans“. To see AI and robots through the lens of what our goals and conceptions of the horizon is interesting. To put it mildly. I read it thrice over and think there ought to be more conversations on the topic. That will contribute to raising the bar.
Raising the bar in my own backyard
And in the spirit of raising the bar, here is a brand-new website where every edition of The OWL finds a place. Let me know what you think when you get a moment or two.
Curated read’s for this 31st edition of OWL
- The Most Valuable Company (for Now) Is Having a Nadellaissance
- Connecting the Dots with John Chambers, CISCO
- How Hiring Entrepreneurs Enabled Airbnb’s Success (and Launched a New Generation of Founders)
- Struggling to Get Motivated? Don’t Ask for Advice–Give It
- How to not replace humans
Image Credits Pixabay