By Ron Zarbock 

The goat is a term usually used in sports that means the fall guy or the one that created a loss.  But it’s also an acronym, Greatest of All Time (GOAT). Serena, Tom Brady or Michael Jordan are names in connection with GOAT.  What does it take to be a GOAT?  It is always accompanied by consistently winning. What it really comes down to is consistently executing at the highest level during the most critical times and being successful. It means being competitively great. But how is that done?  I’d like to recognize coach John Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach who won 14 NCAA championships, as a GOAT.

John Wooden’s book, My Personal Best, teaches us how he was able to consistently build teams that were their best using his “Pyramid of Success.”  This pyramid has over a dozen attributes to work on to become competitively great.  Many organizations use this pyramid to become better, including our organization this year.  Coach Wooden says that “success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”  It’s not all about talent, it’s about being fully present and conscious in the right moments. These moments happen during a difficult challenge. At the highest level, one needs poise — which means just being yourself and at ease during any situation — never fighting yourself. One also needs confidence, which is respect without fear. This comes from being prepared and keeping all things in proper perspective.

To become a GOAT, performance must happen at the right moment; therefore, a right moment — which is a difficult challenge or situation — must be present. Today, our world is changing in so many ways and whenever there is change there is opportunity or “right moments.” So many norms in our world are evolving which present great moments for us all. For example, I’m sure many of you know about the GameStop phenomenon where the Internet is driving up the price of GameStop stock at the peril of hedge fund managers. This became a battle and created opportunity for so many. Some won and others did not.

This pandemic is changing many of our norms which encourages reflection of our priorities and perspective. One thing I’m realizing is that this life is precious and our time here is valuable and limited. I’ve also seen more of the tender and the fearful side of humanity.

Whether you are a finely tuned athlete, the leader of an organization or a production worker, the key to being your GOAT is the same. Now, more than ever, is a prime opportunity for YOU or YOUR organization to become one. It is not a term to be used lightly and requires your deliberate and focused execution.   It is your choice alone to become your own GOAT or to retreat into a state of perceived safety. Take this opportunity to analyze and pivot. Let’s do this!

Stay Calm and Be Yourself

Change often produces fear. Instead of giving into fear, Coach Wooden suggests developing self-control — keep your emotions under control, calmness facilitates good judgment, level-headed decisions and common sense (something we could use more of with our national political leaders). Skill — a knowledge of and the ability to properly execute fundamentals; confidence — again, respect without fear and intentness. Set realistic goals, concentrate on achievements. You were blessed with talents to be shared with others. See what they are and develop them by sharing with others.

Look for New Ways to Serve

• Realize that others may not be at ease. Be friendly and kind.

- Express mutual esteem, respect and devotion.

- Smile, wear your mask but make eye and heart contact.

• Be loyal - Realize the impact of your actions.

- Don’t always buy the cheapest or most convenient products.

- Support a local organization, believe in others, take a chance on someone.

• Have enthusiasm and community spirit — it’s contagious.

- Have genuine consideration for others.

- Have an eagerness to sacrifice your personal interest for glory for the welfare of all.

I asked one of my highest-producing employees for advice on her success and she said, “Keep the best interest of others in mind. Stay compassionate, don’t let yourself get jaded by others. The one time you’re cynical could be the time you are wrong.”  I’ll add “be industrious” to that. There is no substitute for hard work. Worthwhile results come from hard work and careful planning.

Be Fully Present and Listen

What is on the mind of your local restaurant or business owner, your colleague working next to you or from home, your boss or your neighbor?

• Be alert. Observe your surroundings and stay open minded. Be eager to learn and improve.

• Be cooperative with others. Listen if you want to be heard. Be interested in finding the best way, not having your own way.

• Have initiative. Once you’ve listened, have the ability to make decisions and think alone. Do not be afraid of failure but learn from it.

A few more quotes for Coach Wooden: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” “Make each day your masterpiece.” “Never lie, never cheat, never steal.”

Following these steps will help you on your way to being your GOAT. There are so many opportunities that are just beginning to present themselves in our world and many more to come. It’s interesting for me to see all the new products and services that have been developed over the past year with the creativity and ingenuity of those that are able to be their best.

Ron Zarbock is the owner of Spherion Staffing and Recruiting offices in Utah and Idaho and the chairman of Tifie Humanitarian.

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