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teamatwhiteboardLeaders of sustainable companies understand that there is much greater value in maintaining a stance of lifelong learning rather than a stance of expertise. This is because the most significant problems most organizations face are not solved by experts, but require adaptation, new learning, and stakeholder engagement.

There are three challenges that an expertise stance tends to create: listening, power, and relevance.

Challenge 1: Listening.

There are plenty of times and places where our expertise does, in fact, solve a problem that no one in an organizational system could otherwise solve. Nevertheless, positioning ourselves as the experts in a knowledge economy puts us on the tempting path toward being know-it-alls, and tends to put us more in the position of talkers than of listeners. When we come in knowing the answer, we don’t listen as well, because we tend to know what someone is going to say.

Or at least we think we do.

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A prevailing theme of The Dropped Ball Series is that people rarely fail because they are ill willed. More often than not, skill deficiency is the process failure underlying most employee slip-ups in the workplace. Failures typically occur when an employee is unable to execute one of these 40 Ubiquitous Skills for Workplace Success.


40 Skills

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ScienceMachineMost of us don’t want to screw things up. We want to get it right. Most of us, though, get in our own way because we focus on the results, rather than the process.

Scenario 1:

We stumble into the right thing. We get something right in spite of ourselves. And sometimes, despite completely coming at things the wrong way, we accidentally get what we are looking for.

Chances are, though, we can’t do that more than once. Or more than a few times, or under very specific similar circumstances. For most of us, though, that isn’t enough: we want to be able to be consistent no matter what.

Scenario 2:

We have a big decision to make. A decision so big, or so complex, that we’re not convinced we have any way of seeing the whole picture – including the consequences of the decision. How can we be sure we’re getting it right? Especially if the decisions have risk, are emotionally fraught, or have to be made without all the relevant information, we need to know we did our best, so that if the outcome ends up not meeting our expectations, we can still be happy with our part.

We want to get it right. The outcome of what we do does matter. But focusing solely on the outcomes or results has five problems:

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Today we have the second post in a series on success, written by our marketing assistant Ryan Smith. 

Here's what he has to say:


LanearrowIn my last post, I defined successful people as those who live with intention. They have a purpose and realize that reality depends on them, not the other way around. They don’t make excuses or misplace blame on other people or outside factors.

This is purely mental (as are most things), however adopting this mindset will change nothing in your physical world if you are not taking action, which brings me to the crux of this week’s blog.

Successful people act on their goals while other people daydream about theirs.


It’s a simple concept, yet so many people would rather spend time fantasizing about what they could do, hope to do, or should have done, essentially doing everything except what will move them forward. Successful people take advantage of the opportunities they are given no matter how insignificant they may seem. Eventually, this compounding interest of work ethic develops into what other people will chalk up to luck or privilege.

So, how do you develop this work ethic? There is one thing that is more important than others:

Align your goals with your interests.

You are far more likely to succeed at something if you actually enjoy doing it. The difference between people who like what they do and those who don’t, are those who don’t work 40 hours a week while those who do never clock out. While one is dragging their feet and working for the weekend, the other doesn’t even know/care what day of the week it is.

It’s pretty easy to get stuck in a routine when you have things to look forward to (vacations, parties, retirement), steady pay, and job security, then come home and distract yourself with TV. This turns weeks into months into years, until eventually one decides it’s too late to chase their goals.

The issue here is that these “goals” might not actually even be theirs. If someone’s goals are too general (lots of money, certain house or car, retirement by a certain age) then they failed to realize something...

The reason they never had the motivation to go after their goals is that their focus was never on the process but more so on the end result. This is not a strong enough incentive to keep them on a grind day-to-day.

Successful people are different in that they have aligned their goals and interests to a point where their goals are not daydreams to fantasize about, but thoughts that constantly occupy their minds.

Your goals should bother you for not chasing them.


Like a dog you haven’t fed in three days, your goals should be unignorable. The dog will bark, whine, scratch, and plea for you to feed it. Eventually, if you don’t feed it, the dog will eat you.

If your goals don’t bother you then you haven’t taken the time to learn about yourself and decide what you want to do. If you don’t know what you want to do then it makes complete sense that you won’t find success. Rather, you will likely end up aimlessly floating around through life dreaming about an end goal that will never come because you never thought of how you would get there.

So, to develop this drive is simple:

Quit distracting yourself, find out what you want, how to get it, and then go do that.


And enjoy the process.

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Returning from Injury

The 140kg Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

In April, 2017, I landed on the point of my left elbow. I had a 140kg (309lbs) tackler on my back. In that moment, I was pretty pleased with myself as I had just made a brilliant offload to set up an easy score for a teammate. Everyone else was a bit horrified because my humerus had not survived the passage of play.


I was rushed to the Emergency Room. They sent me home in a cuff and collar. The next day, I scheduled a surgery date. I spent a day and a half in hospital while they rebuilt my arm. Then, it was six-months of physical therapy. I still have to do daily band exercises to this day to keep the muscles around the surgery scars strong.


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