Thursday, October 15, 2009

Living Up to Expectations

Service fails when we do not meet our customer’s expectations. Thus, we learn about how to ‘under-promise, and over-deliver’. I believe that most customers (including ourselves) already know of this strategy, where we are short-changed as a customer, so that we can we be over-charged eventually. Talk about uneven compromises!

After watching the Ironman Triathlon World Championships two days ago, I was thinking about what goes through the minds of the professional and amateur athletes after the race.

For the defending champion, Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander (AUS) winning twice in a row must be heady with excitement and euphoria (as far as I can imagine). Chrissy Wellington (UK), not only successfully defended her title for the second time, she also broke the long-standing course record (by one minute) set by her predecessor, Paula Newby-Fraser. Interestingly, several male professionals did not expect the superlative English triathlete to overtake them during the race. Chrissy needed a boost of motivation, so she went after the boys. I am sure that they were not expecting that!

For those professional who did not win, or make it to the top-3 positions, how do they feel? Do you think that they felt that they had disappointed their fans? Did they feel terrible because they did not meet expectations? I believe that to some extent, they did as professionals have a degree of obligation to their sponsors, family, fans, and themselves. This included former-world champions who wanted another shot at glory. To win once at Kona makes you a great athlete; to win twice, that makes you a legend. Some legends attempted a hat trick, and who can fault them for their enormous efforts on mercilessly hot day.

20-year-old, Rudy Garcia-Tolson (of Bloomington, California) did not meet the 9.5 hours deadline to complete his ride. To be fair, he is a double-amputee, above the knees, and he ran purely on his gluteal muscles (buttocks). He was severely disadvantaged, yet he made enormous ground by completing the 180km of sheer heat and harsh side-winds of Kona-Kailua, Hawaii. Kudos to Rudy for showing courage and true grit! In 2007, Scott Rigsby became the first double leg amputee to finish the Ironman. Both Rudy and Rudy have relentless determination and fiery willpower to attempt such a challenge, and boldy defy expectation. They defied (the odds) and defined who they are.

Congratulations to entrepreneur, Mitch Thrower for his 18th Ironman finish! [Sigh]. I have my work cut out for me.


Lim Leong, Reeves said...

If I may just add on to your insightful observations. These great athletes have shown great resilience and inner strength in times of physical and mental hardship. They form critical reference points which will be tested in times of crisis. Isn't that a wonderful leadership quality to impart to the rest of us who are tested in the rigors of everyday lives.

Enrico Varella said...

Thank, Reeves. You are correct in your observations. Trial by fire, or adversity brings out the stunning qualities of people, including values like resilience, tenacity and persistence. These 'reference points' leave an indelible mark, which can serve as compass points through their journey. Leadership is hard work. Leading is harder work, thus learning serves as a single point of referencing.

We hope that this Community of Leadership Practice encourages and engages us to bring our stunning qualities in your everyday leadership. Keep your comments flowing!