“Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them.” – Joseph Joubert

Most Entrepreneurs, founders of companies and even people who had a –in their opinion- great product, service or business model idea which never materialized, will probably agree with this. Being a visionary and having great ideas alone is not enough to make things happen the way one dreams of. Other than a brilliant vision, it takes hard work, perseverance, dedication and in a lot of cases, taking risks, to make a vision, a dream, an idea come true.

This can not always be done by just one person, the genius, but takes the work and support of a lot of people. Oftentimes, the geniuses and visionaries in these day’s economy do not even have the necessary skills and expertise to materialize their ideas into actual products, services or businesses. To start and sustain a successful business these days, one needs to have valuable employees. That’s why Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said:

“Not the maker of plans and promises, but rather the one who offers faithful service in small matters. This is the person who is most likely to achieve what is good and lasting.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“…the one who offers faithful service…” obviously refers to an employee in this case. When talking about employees, this automatically leads to hierarchies, people being superiors of others, people giving orders and others following orders. And of course, a boss. Hierarchies have been existing for as long as there is life on this planet. It is not only in the human nature but in the nature of all living beings that spend their lives in groups. You will always find a leader and in some cases further hierarchies below him/her.

Of course, we want to focus on the human system of hierarchies here. The most prominent example for hierarchies is the military, because here you will find a lot of hierarchies, which are strictly regulated and demonstrated by the individuals. To make sure, everyone is aware of the hierarchy and the standing of the individual within the hierarchy, the uniforms even feature the ranks. Another example for hierarchies is our workplace. You will always find at least one boss and depending on the size of the company, further hierarchies, like head of department, project manager or others. This means that a lot of people are leaders of sometimes only one person and sometimes up to thousands of employees.

Being a leader, you will be responsible for a lot of things, more than you can handle on your own. That’s why you will have one or more persons working for you. The persons you are supposed to lead and in order to make life easier for yourself and to keep the persons working for you, you have to delegate work to these people. If you manage to perform the art of delegating tasks to perfection, you will do what Calvin Coolidge mentioned:

“One rule of action, more important than all others, is in never doing anything that someone else can do for you.”
– Calvin Coolidge

But delegating the right tasks to the right people is an art of its own. This is part of being a good leader. In big companies with a lot of hierarchies, obviously it’s highly unlikely, that all these leaders have got the necessary leadership skills which shows in a high fluctuation of personnel in some companies/departments. Asking people who quit their jobs for their reasons for leaving, you will probably find that the number one reason is the boss/superior. In second place might be the nature of the work they are doing. That means the reason why most people quit their jobs is because of the leadership they are under at work and because they are not enjoying the work they are doing. So, how can we overcome those issues and establish a more stable workforce in our company/department? Dwight D. Eisenhower once said:

“Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

Obviously, this would be the best case and can not always be achieved. But taking this as a guideline, what can it mean? Maybe in a lot of cases we should review our reasons to hire a particular person. I believe in most cases we look at the task this person is supposed to do, then we look at the certificates, the person has and check if the qualifications this person got at school match with the requirements of the job. Until now, a lot of people think, if these two match, this will be enough for the person to do the job. In a lot of cases this might be true. At least, having the right qualifications should lead to being able to do the job. But just because school enabled a person to do a job, does that actually mean, that this person will do the job as efficiently as (s)he could?

I am sure, a lot of us have experienced that people we hired for a certain job, either never lived up to their expectations and estimated potential or only for a very short time before their performance dropped and remained low until they eventually quit or we released them. Maybe when hiring people we should not exclusively concentrate on their qualifications but also on their previous jobs and especially their attitude. How does looking at their previous jobs help us to find out if a person will perform well in a position? As Eisenhower said, a leader needs to get people to do something they want to do themselves. Now, if a potential job-candidate has had similar jobs in the past and always dropped out after a short time, maybe it is not always because the superior or environment was bad, but maybe this person is simply not enjoying this particular job or not capable of doing it efficiently. So, maybe when we try to fill a position in our company/department, we should not focus too much on the qualifications. Of course, we always have to consider them since the applicant will still have to be capable of doing the job, but maybe we should look into other factors as well.

One factor would certainly be, if the applicant would possibly enjoy doing the job, we need to be done. Of course, we need to create an environment and job scope that can possibly be enjoyed. We can not just create a position which can hardly be enjoyed by anyone or put a person in an environment where performing would be difficult for any person. This is where the leader has to prepare and support. In a lot of companies, the false conclusion is made that employees always support the leader. In a company that has the intention to care for their employees and by that make their employees care about the company, the boss has to support his/her employees as well as receive strong support from them.

Besides the right skillset and the right dedication to fill a position in a company an applicant needs one more thing to be truly an asset to the company with commitment and a high potential for development. This is the right attitude to fit into the company culture. As mentioned before a good leader will create an environment in which a good employee feels comfortable in, but obviously, this can only be done to a certain extend and within the established and desired company culture. Only if an applicant can adapt to and adopt the company culture (s)he will be able to willingly perform to his/her full potential.

If you can fill a vacant position in your company with a person who fulfills all these requirements rather than just having the right certificates, you will have found someone who can be lead the way, Eisenhower mentioned. By “someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” So, once you have a team of individuals which are willing to do what the boss wants them to do, what else does the boss have to do? Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once mentioned:

“What chance gathers she easily scatters. A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

According to this, a leader has to be able to choose a team of great people. The right people for the right job, as we have talked about before. But finding the right person for the right job, is one thing. As a great leader, you are also able to keep this person. Let’s face it, if you find someone really good at some point either other companies will gain interest in this person as well or the person itself will be aware of his/her value and start thinking about alternatives to his/her current position. What can a great leader do to avoid this?

Obviously, there are a lot of ways. First of all the monetary way. By paying the person more than the competition would. Other than that changes in the work environment can be made. But we want to focus on the leadership skills here. So, how do you lead a person in a way that binds him/her to your company/department?

There are a lot of different ways to lead a team. More or less authoritarian approaches can be chosen. A good leader might even be able differentiate and lead different people in his team in different ways. However, no matter who you work with, what culture, race or religion your employees are from, they will appreciate if you “rule” them the way, Ovid suggested:

“A ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward.”
– Ovid


By being “slow to punish”, you give your employees the freedom and confidence to try new things and take chances. Like that you bring in new and fresh ideas into your business from different angles and backgrounds. Note that Ovid said “slow to punish”, which means that of course, punishment is still part of your leadership. It is clear that you can not lead without making your aware of their mistakes at all. If there was no punishment, the people you lead might repeat mistakes over and over again, because they do not see the need to change anything since there won’t be any punishment anyway. However, if you managed to find great people for your team as we talked about above, these sort of people won’t be repeating mistakes anyway. Which makes it easy for you to be slow in your punishment, since these people won’t give you much reason to punish them. Let your people make mistakes, but do teach them the lesson in case they have not learnt it from their mistake itself.

The other part of Ovid’s quote is “swift to reward”. Acknowledge and appreciate your employees’ achievements. Not every little achievement needs to be acknowledged in a monetary way, but let your people know that you recognize their successes, even small ones. For the bigger ones however, a monetary “thank you” will be highly appreciated by your employees. A simple “well done” can make your employees feel valued in the company and by their boss, but it will be even more impactful if accompanied by a monetary reward for outstanding achievements.

All this contributes to your employees’ satisfaction in their job and will keep them from thinking about leaving your company or department, because once they start thinking about changing jobs, you will not be able to effectively lead them anymore. As mentioned, one non-monetary way of keeping the spirits of your employees up is by empowering them. Empowering them to make their own decisions and perform tasks without asking for approval every time. This is even more difficult than choosing the right person for the right job, according to Napoleon Bonaparte:

“The art of choosing men is not nearly so difficult as the art of enabling those one has chosen to attain their full worth.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

The way of ruling Ovid suggested obviously helps to enable our employees to attain their full worth. As a leader you have to give your employees the confidence and the authority to make their own decisions, within certain limitations, of course. The more freedom you can give them or the wider your can stretch this limitations, means the more your employees will be able to unfold their full worth and potential.

Of course, this takes us back to choosing the right people. Obviously, there are people out there who cannot work without clear guidelines. Some people need close supervision, simply because of their mentality. Not everyone enjoys to have a lot of freedom at work, but performs better within clear boundaries. On the other hand, there will be people taking advantage of their freedom. For example, by exploiting the freedom given to them, always looking for the easiest way out for themselves, rather than the best solution for the company and maybe even spending a lot of time at work doing everything but working. This means, that a leader has to choose people with the right attitude and mindset in order to be able to vastly empower them and thus tap on their full potential. As Thomas Jefferson said:

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
– Thomas Jefferson

According to this, the persons you are hiring have to have the right mental attitude which includes that their goals are in line with the company’s goals. In order to promote this, a company can do a few things, such as aiming for work-life-integration. This basically means, spending time with work-related matters which an employee can share and enjoy, for example with his/her family or friends. This can be done in a lot of ways, which can easily be figured out be a good leader, open to this idea or even left to the suggestion of the employees themselves. Important is, that these ideas are to the benefit of the company and at the same time to the benefit of the employee him/herself. Benefit of the employee can mean a lot of things in this case. It can mean a further development of his/her skills or even just spending an enjoyable time, not even feeling that what (s)he is doing is work-related.

This however, is only possible if the employee has the right mental attitude. Above mentioned persons, who only function within certain guidelines or take advantage of these opportunities, will not be able to understand and apply this or only to their own benefit, without considering any added value for the company. But even if we have people with the right mental attitude, these people need one more thing. Which leads us to a quote of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The right mental mindset does not just include to think the right things and in the right ways, but to act upon this thinking. It does not help if our employees understand our ideas and culture but do not tap on it. In that case, a leader has to demand initiative from his/her employees. They should soon be able to adapt a culture in which they know how not just to realize and recognize the right and wrong things, but also act accordingly and correct the wrongs while sharing and performing the good. There should be no need to ask for this culture to be “lived” anymore once your employees have tried it, since they themselves will not just know about the benefits for themselves but have experienced them.

After all, you can not force your employees to do anything, not even for their own good. At least you should not. In some cases, you might be able to apply force on your employees, but you will soon find out that your employees will not be willing to endure this for long. They will escape your leadership and leave. Like Abraham Lincoln once said:

“No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.”
– Abraham Lincoln

This shows clearly in the fluctuation that we see in a lot of companies these days. Depending on the economic environment, people might bear to work under an unwanted leader for a longer or shorter period of time. The better the economy, the shorter the period of time, people will be willing to spend under your rule. This applies especially for good people. Good employees will have an easier time finding a new job and thus not bear with bad leaders for long. Obviously, good people are the ones, we would like to bind to our company. That means, we have to offer them good leadership. A leader they choose to be lead by. John Churton Collins took this even further than “consent to be lead”, when he said:

“Always mistrust a subordinate who never finds fault with his superior.”
– John Churton Collins

This statement might sound extreme but makes perfect sense when we think about it. Everybody, even a leader, makes mistakes. After all, we are all human. A team of bright people, will surely notice your mistakes and let’s be honest, would you rather have your employees or your boss/customers, make you aware of your mistakes?

Empower your employees not just to make their own decisions, but also to question yours. Do not give them the authority to act against or ignoring your decisions, but allow them to criticize them and listen carefully to their criticism. Let them know that its heard and considered, no matter if you find it reasonable and decide to adjust based on their input or if you stick with what was initially planned in spite of their criticism.

If all these wise quotes and suggestions fail, you can try to convince your employees about the necessity to work, mentioning what Voltaire once said:

“Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.”
– Voltaire

DISCLAIMER: the following information is from http://en.wikipedia.org/

Joseph Joubert (7 May 1754 in MontignacPérigord – 4 May 1824 in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne) was a French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his Pensées published posthumously.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749  – 22 March 1832) was a German writerpictorial artistbiologisttheoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature.

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933) was the 30th President of the United States (1923–1929).

Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army.

Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BC – AD 17/18), known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: HeroidesAmores, and Ars Amatoria.

Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815. His legal reform, the Napoleonic code, has been a major influence on many civil law jurisdictions worldwide.

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom (1777), the third President of the United States (1801–1809) and founder of the University of Virginia (1819). He was an influential Founding Father and an exponent of Jeffersonian democracy.

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in 1865. He led the country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and promoting economic and financial modernization.

John Churton Collins (26 March 1848 – 25 September 1908), was an English literary critic.

François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), better known by the pen name Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religionfree trade and separation of church and state.




How do you want to spend your life?

Every person has a lifetime. Obviously, for some a lifetime can be very short. For the most unfortunate ones, it will even only last for a few seconds or minutes before death strikes. For the most fortunate ones, this might be 100 or more years. Obviously, “fortunate” is a relative term in this context. First and foremost, because the sheer number of years does not mean “happy”, “enjoyable” or “valuable” years. Probably everyone heard Abraham Lincoln’s quote “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” at some point. Now, the average human will get between 60 and 90 years old these days which of course, heavily depends on what part of the world you live in, as well as environmental, genetic and individual circumstances. Assuming our life has a “normal” length and we are not haunted by an early death or blessed by an extraordinary long (and happy) life, what is our goal in life?

Do we want to develop as much as we can within the years that are given to us? And if that is the case, in what sense do we want to develop ourselves? Of course, there is physical
development, which will happen automatically but can within certain genetic boundaries of course be significantly influenced by ourselves. By the food that we eat and the activities that
we do and these days there is another, relatively new way to “develop” physically with the help of plastic surgeries. The physical development is something, I do not want to talk about in this paper, however. So, when I talk about a person’s development, what am I talking about then?

All of us will develop mentally over time. Like physical development, this will happen automatically, simply by the process of growing up as well as being shaped by the environment
around us and experiences that we make. Furthermore, we have the chance to develop ourselves for example through studying, activities (physical as well as mental) and experiences.

Asking around, a lot of person’s goal in life will be to climb as high on the professional ladder as possible. Their vision is to become a director or even CEO some day. Their sole focus of
development is professional development, considering a higher position in the corporate hierarchy equivalent to more happiness and meaning in life.

Now, the question is, how much meaning does work give your life? Assume, you are getting old and you have had a successful professional career, becoming director, CEO, CFO or even
owner of a well-running business, does that mean you will be satisfied with your life, when death is closing in? Do you think you will feel like your life had more meaning because you managed to become a director and did not spend your days being an Executive or Assistant Manager? Is that, how you will rate your own life? By how high on the corporate ladder you have managed to climb during your working years and how much you have developed professionally?

If the answer is “yes”, probably you can stop reading here. If the answer is “no” or you are just curious, maybe you want to invest a little bit more of your valuable time to read the rest of this article.

Assuming your status in the corporate world will not give you eternal satisfaction when your life is ending, what would you want to achieve in life to die with as little regrets as possible?

How about personal development? Do you think, your last few weeks, days, minutes or seconds will be filled with lesser regrets and more satisfaction if you invested more time into personal development and less into professional development? Do you think, developing as a person will be more important to you than developing as a professional?

If you think, being a valuable person to yourself and others will be more important than being a valuable employee or employer, then how can you develop as a person? What are ways to
develop as a person?

Obviously, different persons will have different answers to this question. One answer, you will get a lot, is by having a family. Marry, raise children. A lot of parents will share with you, that raising children is the most important, enjoyable and rewarding experience in their lives and that having a family with children totally changed them and the way, they look at the world. Children give these persons a meaning, their life has not had previously.

Others will tell you that developing their spiritualism or spending more time on their religious beliefs made them develop as a person much more. Generally, these people will be convinced about their own righteousness and think of themselves as “good persons” because they spend a lot of time, reflecting on themselves, being active in churches, meditation or whatever other practice they have committed to. Unfortunately, their righteousness ends with their spiritualism and religiousness at times and does not translate into everyday life.

Others will find happiness in doing volunteer work. Other than happiness, these people will find, that volunteering made them develop as an individual tremendously. Going to countries where the poorest of the poor live in the most miserable conditions, you can imagine surely makes your view of the world and your own environment change a lot. Especially in days where our “friends” in social networks like to announce their eternal sorrows openly to the world because every individual feels treated more horribly by the world than anyone else! Helping people with real rather than perceived problems surely develops your mind and makes you realize how much you have and what actual problems and sufferings are like. The less adventurous or ambitious ones however, simply choose to do something good not for the poorest of the poor but for the needy ones in their own community. If you really want, you will always find people who are more in need than you yourself and your family are. Most likely, you can take something away from spending time with and helping them and through that develop as a person.

A few others will even tell you to just give everything up and travel the world, if possible on your own, is the best way to develop as a person. They will say, it helps you to get to know and
understand not just the world but also yourself. And isn’t it crucial to know and understand something first, before you can develop it? These people will not be rich and they will not stay in luxury resorts around the world but rather travel the way the locals do, stay in hostels or cheap guesthouses and take every path untraveled they can find. For them it’s not about seeing the nice and safe sides of a place only but to actually experience a place with everything that is part of it. The good and the bad because only that makes you truly understand a place and its people. By being out there in unfamiliar environment, surrounded by people you do not know and whose culture you do not share, yet have to adapt to, you will learn not just about them, but most of all about yourself.What do you enjoy, what do you not enjoy, what can you or can you not take and why? What are you capable of? Only by doing it on your own, you will find all these things out because there is no one else you can get to do things for you. You have to take care of yourself, find all the basic things you need in life yourself.Where can I eat? What can I eat? What am I eating? Where are the washrooms?Where can I sleep? You have to get all these information and sometimes without being able to communicate properly because you do not speak the same language as the persons who hold all this information and no travel agent and resort staff is there to take care of these things for you. Some say challenging environments are the only ones, that make you develop.

Whatever you decide to do to develop yourself, eventually work will still have to be part of your life again. At least to a certain extend. Then what to do? If we can not live without work, but actually would like to spend time developing as a person rather than as a professional, how can we balance our needs and intentions?

The best case would be to find a job which combines professional and personal development. A job that gives us the chance to earn the money we need to live and feed our family while maybe even climbing up the corporate ladder and at the same time makes us develop as an individual. Obviously, the random corporate career won’t offer us this opportunity.

But what to do, if we have already spent too much time, working on such a career and developing professionally, to let all this go to waste and start anew? Well, a consideration often
mentioned is “But if I change careers now, so many years I have spent working on this career will go to waste!”. True, all those years working hard on your career might go to waste, but if you do not change, is there a chance your entire life will go to waste? Is it better to keep doing something for the rest of your life simply because you have already done it for a long time and do not want to let the time you have spent on it so far go to waste? Or is it better to let the time you spent on something you do not enjoy doing go to waste and start anew, maybe from the bottom in order not to let your entire life go to waste by spending it doing something you do not want to do and do not enjoy doing? This question can only be answered individually, so you answer it for yourself!

As we say in FOCUS Adventure “if you do something for a living that you enjoy, you will never work a single day in your life anymore!”.

Some people might want to do something different but find out that they’re simply not good at whatever they would like to do. Instead they happen to be good at all the things they do not
enjoy doing. Maybe they are lucky enough, to find the job they are good at even though not necessarily enjoying it in a company that makes you enjoy the work. Maybe because this
company does not just give you the chance to perform (in) your job, but also to develop as an individual while doing your job, for example by giving you the chance to pick a field of your
choice and liking and spend some of the time you have to spend at work, performing in the field you have chosen for this company. In FOCUS, we would call that “Secondary Role” or “The Leadership Challenge!”.

Maybe more companies and leaders should explore this option to get more performance and productivity out of their employees who might otherwise spend a lot of time just going through the motion of doing their job while being mentally absent and dull, maybe even just pretending to be busy working a lot of times. After all, this can create a win-win situation since the company will improve productivity of their employees, while the employee will spend time doing something, they are genuinely interested in and not just killing the time they have to spend being physically present at work. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said about Leadership: It is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”