Have you ever finished last? I have experienced it multiple times, and the pain of those situations, especially from my formative years, is as real today as it was the day they happened.
What I didn’t know then that I know now is those early humbling experiences were the makings of essential leadership skills. David Schwartz, LMFT, succinctly states, “Part of the human experience is learning from the things that challenge us.”
Hard lessons are not for naught. One crucial lesson they teach us is self-discipline. Self-discipline increases the likelihood of finding daily happiness from doing meaningful work with people we like and respect.
Discipline is what separates the good from the great. Contrary to what many people think, discipline is something you do for yourself by learning, training, and applying a system of standards.
One’s system of standards is where greatness lies. Jim Collins, author of “BE 2.0,” “Good to Great,” and other notable works, says, “The vast majority of great companies had the foundation of excellence put in place when relatively young and/or small.” Great companies build on sturdy rocks of standards
When facing challenging times, like most organizations are today, the best strategy is a team of disciplined people who can adapt and execute from deeply rooted values.
Great companies depend on great leaders. The longevity of an organization depends on leaders who apply discipline to their everyday thoughts and deeds. A truly exceptional company prospers over time.
Take Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, for example. Dan made headlines six years ago when he committed to slashing his salary and giving all of his employees a minimum wage of $70,000. Price reports it hasn’t been easy, and he and his team have weathered a few storms, one of which has been the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a 55% loss of business in March 2020.
Employees responded to this loss by taking Price’s lead and voluntarily taking a temporary pay cut until the organization was back on its feet. More than a year later, the company is thriving, tripling in size, and still paying employees a minimum wage of $70,000. Price attributes the company’s recovery to the fierce loyalty of the employees he served first from his abundance.
Upon hearing of such a feat, I took to my social media network and asked, “In a word, what is greatness?”. People contributed several words, but one word stuck out: “integrity.”
It’s worth noting that Price uses the same word when he renders the disciplined action he and his team took to preserve the life of Gravity Payments. Price states, “it wasn’t worth losing our integrity to try to save the business.” Integrity was deemed more significant than the business itself.
With this disciplined state of mind, leaders could detach from preconceived notions and open up to new possibilities, thus breathing new life into their organization.
Closer to home in the Corridor, Clickstop, Inc. is deemed a great company. In 2021 they received several awards and were named the fastest-growing company, coolest place to work, and one of Iowa’s top workplaces.
I caught up with Jeremy Meyer, VP of Employee Engagement at Clickstop, to learn more about the company’s pathway to greatness. Clickstop has been on a fast and furious growth cycle for over a decade. Meyer says, “a great company and great workplace culture go hand-in-hand.”
Clickstop recognizes that people are thinking differently about work. As employees re-prioritize their life around what matters most, organizations must adapt. One such adaptation is the hybrid model, and Clickstop is not waiting to find out how it goes for others. This might be uncomfortable, but growth so often is. They are maintaining discipline to their mission, values, and entrepreneurial mindset. This is what has fueled their growth for over a decade.
The reality is, great companies employ great people. Great people know how to achieve great things, not because of any promise of finishing first, but because of hard-earned lessons that orient them toward putting service above self.