The two styles of achievement, & how to master each
There are two styles of climbing the mountain of achievement. These are manifest by what we’ll call the “Visionary” and the “One-Stepper.”
Each is useful in its own right, each has its own strengths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages. Neither is inherently superior to the other.
The important thing is to understand which one is your natural style so you can 1) leverage its strengths to the fullest, and 2) compensate for its weaknesses.
Read the general descriptions of each to see which one resonates with you most:
The Visionary focuses almost entirely on the end result. He sees the top of the mountain in crystal-clear detail. He knows what it will feel like to reach the summit. His confidence that he will make it is unwavering.
He may not know how he will reach the top — and he doesn’t care. The how is just details, and details bore and burden him.
The One-Stepper also has a vision of the end result. But once he has seen that vision, his focus shifts from the top of the mountain down to his feet. His style is to take one step at a time to achieve his vision.
Whereas the Visionary feels invigorated by a grandiose mission, the One-Stepper tends to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task he has overtaken. To deal with this feeling, he concentrates all his effort on the one step, the one task in front of him. He breaks up his journey into small, bite-sized chunks and handless them individually.
The Visionary deals with what to do and why. The One-Stepper deals with how to get it done.
The Visionary tends to be aggressive, energetic, flexible, agile, spontaneous, dynamic, zealous, and resourceful.
The One-Stepper, in contrast, tends to be disciplined, efficient, organized, methodical, meticulous, and systematic.
The Visionary is generally right-brain dominant and intuitive, while the One-Stepper is generally left-brain dominant and logical.
The Visionary starts with the big picture, then finds the facts and breaks down the details. The One-Stepper finds the facts and sees the details, then builds the big picture from those component parts.
Visionaries are often hares, charging up the mountain in quick, short bursts. One-Steppers are generally tortoises, plodding up the mountain at a slow and steady pace.
The Visionary thrives on change, while the One-Stepper resists change. The Visionary is a possibility thinker; the One-Stepper is a pragmatic thinker.
The Visionary is an idea-generating machine; the One-Stepper is an execution machine.
During brainstorming sessions, the Visionary gets impatient with the One-Stepper because the One-Stepper doesn’t see what he sees. But the One-Stepper is frustrated with the Visionary because he doesn’t realize what it takes to execute big ideas.
Pros and cons of each style
At his best, the Visionary can completely revolutionize entire industries.
At his worst, the Visionary is nothing but a wantrapreneur — bursting with ideas, but scarce in execution. Every time you talk to him he has a new and exciting business idea, but he’s never followed through on any of them.
The best One-Stepper lays foundations and plants seeds that will last for generations.
But One-Steppers with no vision are called task-oriented employees — you can depend on them to get the job done, but you don’t look to them for leadership.
Good Visionaries see the right wall to lean the ladder against. Poor Visionaries flit from wall to wall and never build a ladder.
Good One-Steppers see the right wall and build the ladder. Poor One-Steppers wait for someone to tell them where to build the ladder.
How to compensate for your weaknesses
If you’re more of a Visionary, here are the keys for you to compensate for your weaknesses:
- Commit: First and foremost, the key for you is commitment. Choose the best of your hundreds of ideas and commit to one. Stop looking for greener grass in other pastures. Pay the price to execute that ONE idea. Do NOT move on to another idea until you’ve done so. Set non-negotiable benchmarks that must be achieved before you move on.
- Build a Team: Build a team of dependable One-Steppers to handle the details and execute your ideas.
- Economic Engine: In order to pay your team, it’s essential that you have a big enough economic engine. It doesn’t matter how idealistic and grandiose your idea — if it doesn’t generate a healthy profit, it’s unsustainable.
- Start in the Trenches: Until you’re in a position to pay a team, you have to do whatever it takes to execute and implement an idea. Be willing to dig in the trenches, whatever it takes and for however long it takes.
If you’re a One-Stepper, compensate for your weaknesses in the following ways:
- Seek Vision: Your first and most important key by far is to first seek vision. Get crystal clear on who you are, what you stand for, what your purpose is.
- Avoid Task Traps: Be constantly on guard for falling into the trap of task-oriented trenches in the absence of an over-arching vision. Never take on any task that doesn’t align with your vision and purpose. It makes you feel important when people ask for your help. You must become an expert at saying “No.”
- Stay on Track: Look up from your work frequently to ensure that you are on the right track toward achieving your vision. Take time to plan each day and week to ensure that your time is spent not just efficiently (doing things right), but effectively (doing the right things).
As a Visionary, it’s not enough to just see the top of the mountain — you also have to climb it.
As a One-Stepper, you have to take time to see the summit before taking a single step. What does it matter how well you execute, if you execute on the wrong things?
It doesn’t matter how you climb the mountain. It only matters that you do.