Not all effort is equal

Sheer effort is not a determination of success. Not all effort is equal.

Aptitude is difficult to measure. Attitude is not.

One can have the right aptitude, attitude and effort and the wrong environment. The environment and the individuals within both have to align for successful outcomes.

One’s aptitude for success is both environmental and internal. That is, the support or lack of support shapes the degree of success of the individual. In the most ideal of circumstances, the internal motivations and mindset of the individual are paired with a supportive environment. Another way this can be viewed is aptitude for success can be undermined by an attitude of failure. In this article, I explore this concept with the wisdom of Muggsy Bogues, the shortest professional NBA player.

Sports demonstrate this support system and the individual within that support system time and again. A star quarterback can not produce winning results without a strong offensive line. And a strong offensive line can not produce a strong quarterback. A strong quarterback and strong offensive line can not produce winning results without a sound offensive strategy. And a strong offensive strategy can not execute without the talent in the lineup. The talent in the lineup must function together within a strong culture of high performance. And, it takes a great Coach and organizational culture to produce great results. And, none of this matters without a strong fan base. So, it takes a talented team and a supportive ecosystem of Coaches, management and social support to produce a winning team. If its winning that we want to explore, then let’s take a look at Alabama football.

Alabama football may soon break Yale University’s national championship record. If you follow college football, then you know that Alabama football has a legacy of producing winning Coaches. And winning Coaches cultivate a winning team culture.

Among other things, it takes talent and time to build a National Championship team. Some Coaches may work as hard as Nick Saban. Perhaps not. Nick Saban and Coaches who have served under his leadership have all benefited from their levels of effort accelerated by mentor relationships and a supportive ecosystem. The is the power of legacy.

The power of legacy.

My late Grandfather was my primary mentor. He was on the job site with his father at the age of seven. At eleven years old, just prior to my 12th birthday, my Grandfather began teaching me the discipline of hard work and our family trade craft. Through the course of the next few years we built a house together. Had my Grandfather lived longer, I likely would have continued the legacy as a general contractor and home builder. However, he was not my only influence and I was more entrepreneurial than him. My Grandmother was in corporate America and both modeled and taught me some of the principles of corporate success. I was naturally entrepreneurial, and had small “businesses” throughout my childhood. These influences would lay a strong foundation of influence.

At Alabama the power of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s legacy lends itself to a supportive sociopolitical system. Nick Saban benefited from the legacy of New England Patriot’s Bill Belicheck as an understudy. By the combined power of Belicheck and Bama football, Saban’s efforts may produce the most National Championships of any American football team in national history.

I have benefited from the legacy of my Grandfather’s mentorship. I have also benefited by working under the leadership of a few strong leaders in high performance environments.

What I need, is what we all need. The power of legacy. Not all efforts are the same. Not all football teams and coaches are the same. Not all teams and team cultures are the same.

Not all companies are the same. The legacy of a strong leader alone does not equal future success. As in the case of Saban and Alabama football, a strong legacy historically with Bear Bryant was aligned with a strong leadership legacy with Saban and Belichick.

Not all effort is the same. Saban had a strong strategy when he emphasized defense. This strategic approach made its way throughout the entire organization. From recruiting players and Coaches to strong public relations, Saban has figured out the formula. Well, he actually traveled through time by learning from a battery of different Coaches.

Everything in Nick Saban’s and Alabama football’s success lines up. From the supportive mentors, the supportive institution and sociopolitical system to the big recruiting budget, Alabama football is a case study of wisdom that applies to high success formulas.

Not all effort is equal. Alabama football demonstrates the criticality of supportive mentors, supportive sociopolitical systems and resources in high success outcomes.

The business world could stand to take a closer examination of the wisdom of sports when it comes to talent, teams and time travel. Not all effort is equal.

Sheer effort is not a determination of success.