Sunday, October 16, 2016

"Relentless": Coolers, Closers, and Cleaners

I recently started reading Tim Grover's 2013 book "Relentless". Grover is highly-regarded for his work with Championship and Hall of Fame athletes, including but not limited to Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant. In his book, Grover talks about three different kinds of people who pursue excellence and commitment.

First, there's the kind that are called "Coolers." These are the people who consider themselves and the work that they do as good. They feel content with what they believe they can accomplish, yet they don't look beyond what they believe they're capable of doing. For example, think about people you may have worked with who did their jobs decently. This can include people who may have started a new job and were very ambitious, but only just. Most of the time, they rely on other people to help them out, to tell them what to do, and to give them the direction they need rather than giving themselves direction.

A typical employee-employer relationship
Then there are the kind of people that are called "Closers." These are the people who get the job done, who work hard to reach a certain point (or goal) they thought they couldn't reach. As a result, their work is considered great. Yet, when they get to that point, they feel they've reached the summit of Mount Everest and don't see the need to climb higher. There are those who work on commission, for instance, who say they're going to make $1,000 in one week, for example. So they work hard to carry out the actions they need to to reach that goal, they take into account what they've learned from experience and from others so far, and they persevere through and reach that goal, even exceed it. There is no doubt a sense of pride and gratefulness that goes along with such accomplishment. But here's where they trip up, as I mentioned a moment ago. Once they've reached the "summit," as they believe this "goal" has been, they slide back down the hill, and can even get back into the same routine they started out in before they became so ambitious.

A peak, but not the peak, according to Cleaners
This is where the third kind of people, called "Cleaners," come in. Instead of looking at the aforementioned "peak" of Everest as the mere high point, these are the people that instead look at this point as a stepping stone and don't tell themselves, "Okay, done," but instead ask themselves, "What's next?" These are the people who don't make these stepping stones a one time thing (one-hit wonders do that), but consistently carry out the actions needed to get the job done. Thereby, they are considered to have an unstoppable drive.

If you look at any truly successful businesses or any truly successful person in any field, whether basketball superstar Jordan or the late boxer Muhammad Ali or the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs or the Pixar Animation Studios, these are people and companies that are (or were) consistently at the top of their game.

The late Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs, despite his complex and unorthodox personality as many have reportedly stated of him, was known for always pushing the envelop of what technology could do, from computers like the iMac to music players like the iPod to home tablets like the iPad and so many other revolutionary products and franchises. He even went so far as using what he termed a "reality distortion field," challenging his employees to accomplish what seemed like impossible tasks to make them possible. This same motivation would even translate, to a degree, to what would become Pixar Animation Studios, which holds an unprecedented financial as well as critical streak for each of their feature films released since 1995. Co-founder and current CEO Ed Catmull chronicles the studio's story, as well as its identity, in his 2014 book, "Creativity, Inc."

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is considered by many, including Tim Grover, to be the greatest basketball player in sports history. And deservedly so. Obviously, the man had an incredible skill set and a highly engaging and appealing personality. (Just look at the diverse ads and companies he was a spokesperson, for one, from Hanes to Gatorade to Nikes.) But more importantly, Jordan was an example of somebody who consistently put more than 100 percent of himself into everything he did on the court (and in preparation for it) and didn't let anybody or anything get to him while he was doing so. Grover shares a story in "Relentless" about how Jordan handled himself in such situations. Say Grover,

"Of course, Cleaners are still human, and like everyone else they feel the same excitement and anxiety and nerves before a big event. But the difference between Cleaners and everyone else is their ability to control those feelings, instead of allowing those feelings to control them. Even [Jordan] used to say he had butterflies before a big game. 'Get 'em all going in the same direction,' I'd tell him. They're not going away, but now you're controlling how you feel about them, instead of allowing them to make you feel nervous. Energy instead of emotion. Big difference."

In other words, energy-driven instead of emotion-driven. A big difference indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Informative blog Bryan! Good read for both business and personal life.