All great leaders have an illusive quality that defines their success - something that lifts those around them and takes their cause to the upper reaches of achievement. From George Washington to Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill to Steve Jobs - we often mistake this quality for charisma or confidence.
It goes much deeper than that. These leaders have a belief that carries them through adversity and past the failures of those who doubt. Churchill is a classic case in point. He believed Britain would win over Germany - despite the odds, and even allowing for the fact that every European ally had fallen already and Britain was left alone, protected from attack only by a narrow strip called the English Channel. He was fervent in his belief that Britain would be victorious, and his belief provided the confidence in the people of England to withstand attack and eventually win through.
George Washington also faced seemingly insurmountable odds. Heavily outnumbered in most encounters, and using a ragtag group of militia to oppose the strongest military in the world, Washington was able to inspire confidence, not only in his soldiers, but in the leaders and politicians who would go on to form western societies first true democracy. The victories of the revolutionary forces stemmed from the belief that Washington had that they would be victorious.
The guiding factor in these leaders, and those business leaders who have grown their companies to incredible heights has been certainty. A deep unyielding belief that what they are doing is the right thing and that they will succeed no matter what. Look at any successful business of the last one hundred years and you’ll find a leader standing with certainty - from Henry Ford through to Elon Musk the companies that become great have great leaders with a vision and a certainty to match.
This level of certainty transfers through to small business as well. Look around the businesses in your city or town that are successful and you will find they are led by people with a vision and a level of certainty in it. They may not have the skills, confidence or belief of a Bill Gates or a Gandhi, but their success will be directly related to the certainty with which they believe they are offering something worth having and that they will win through.
So how do you measure up on the certainty Richter scale? Do you have a clear vision of what you hope to offer the world? Those who are certain are not ‘me too’ operators. Their belief is in something that many others fail to believe in. It’s not hard to be a believer today that the world is round, but it took some certainty 500 years ago when everyone else thought it was flat. Sometimes their belief can be so strong they don’t even have to be right.
Sadly many business owners are only willing to believe in what the mainstream believe in. They try to be all things to all people, playing it safely down the middle ground as this is where the majority of customers sit. They are so careful to avoid offense that they finish up being vanilla, indistinguishable from those around them on anything other than price. This is also where the majority of the competition also sits and they can be left fighting for scraps. There’s profit on the fringes where the audience is often ignored, but where the competition is thinner. If you play in this area you will find yourself outside the needs of the majority, but with a profitable audience you can have all to yourself.
Politics is a classic example. Many politicians attempt to play it safely down the middle but find themselves looking like everyone else. Donald Trump won through the Republican nomination because he wasn’t like the others. Love him or hate him you can’t question the certainty with which he operates and his willingness to function in his own niche without trying to please everyone. This is a very appealing quality to many people.
So are you being all things to all people? Is there a profitable fringe to your business that you need to be? Somewhere that others can’t or won’t go but where there is an untapped market waiting to be heard and looking for what you can be offering? Your success begins with a vision unlike what others are offering and by bringing a certainty that what you are doing is right. Elon Musk has become successful because of his willingness to go into markets where others fear to venture. Are you Musk or Chrysler?
Think about it for a few minutes and it becomes clear. Doing what the rest do won’t bring you different results. A unique vision combined with an uncompromising certainty in it will win through in the end.