June 1, 2001
This week, Tony Stewart became the first driver ever to successfully complete the Indy-Charlotte Double, finishing both the Indianapolis 500 Indycar Series race and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race totaling 1,100 miles in one day.
The feat is one of incredibly detailed planning and nearly super-human endurance. It calls for driving two different types of cars at speeds of over 200 mph for over 7 hours with an airplane flight of over 400 miles in between.
The feat has been attempted more than a half-dozen times since John Andretti’s first try in 1994. Logistically, the feat seems abundantly possible. It fits nicely within an 11 hour window. Modern transportation enables getting to and fro without issue. And there is no shortage of folks willing to try it.
The problem is that things are far easier to write down than they are to actually execute.
And that’s the point for the week.
Saying something is one thing. Doing it is a fish of an entirely different kettle.
The most overlooked issue is this: the skills required to plan are different than those required to do. What makes one successful as a planner will not make them successful as a doer, and vice versa. Too often, we assume that because someone has risen to a certain level they have assembled ALL the necessary skills to make them successful at anything they will encounter moving forward. That’s wrong. As wrong as assuming that just because John Andretti can write down a detailed itinerary for completing “Double Duty” that he can actually perform it.
To be completely successful as leaders, we need a complete skill set. We need to be successful as planners, as doer, as encouragers of other human beings, as businesspeople, and a truckload of other important skills. But above all, we must be able to make the transition from thinking to doing.
No one ever thought their way to prosperity. Just as no one ever thought their way to completion of the Memorial Day Double.
But when leaders master the ability to make the turn between thinking and doing, they become fully multi-dimensional. They become capable of not only contriving a plan but of executing it as well. It is then that leaders become capable of truly adding value, of truly inspiring, of truly setting an example for others to follow, of truly leading.
So, learn to make the turn.
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