No.

Apple has made remarkable strides over the past century. Starting in the shadow of other computer companies, today’s Apple has busted through the marketshare with it’s computers, tablets, phones, and media-players.  A lot of Apple’s success stems undeniably from the corporations CEO, Steve Jobs. An icon, a genius, a leader, Jobs always strived for the best. He was brutal. He was aggressive. Reporters across the spectrum account Jobs as a “snarling brute.”  You may wonder why people continued to work for him. He fought for perfection, creativity, and above all else, innovation.

When asked “is this good enough?” he’d reply “no.

And that’s why people stayed.  Steve Jobs whipped out the word “no,” like second nature, but it’s because of his progressive vision that inspired others to continue performing.

Imagine if everyone said “yes,” all the time.  How on earth could leaders emerge? Leadership stems from “no,” for a number of reasons:

  • People, whether it be the government, administration, parents, or bullies, will tell you all about what you can’t do.  Restricting laws and rules, words of discouragement, and more are all examples of “no,” statements.  Without people shoving “no” in our face, leaders would never arise.  Leaders make change.  They take control of their destiny and enable others to reform the social norms.  Leaders turn “no’s” into “yes’s.”  In a world full of “yes,” leadership is dead.
  • Take Steve Jobs’s case: Leaders are never satisfied.  They are constantly progressing and working towards bettering themselves and their communities.  Even when a leader is finished presenting ideas, they recognize room for improvement by asking for feedback.  Leaders say “no,” because they know that they can do better.

An instance where my leadership best came through was during the spring break of my senior year.  I didn’t venture to some tropical paradise; in fact, I didn’t even leave my county.  I stayed in Macomb township all week to train for the track season.  Every morning, I woke up at five to make to practice.  Personally, I wanted to better my times.  Communally, I wanted to help my team by being the best runner I could be.  During my senior year, our team was composed chiefly of freshmen, albeit Trevor and I, who were the only seniors left standing.  Each morning of that break ran similarly.

Just go back to bed…

No.

You can run later…

No.

Just cut the warm-up short….

No.

During that week, we had two speed workouts.  My relationship with speed workouts was definitely one of love and hate.  I knew they made me stronger, physically and mentally; however, the exhaustion of it all was sometimes seemingly unbearable.  The morning of the second speed workout, I was the only one to show up to practice.  My coach, who everyone simply referred to as Hubbard or Hub, hadn’t arrived yet, and I debated leaving to run on my own time, later. No.  Instead, I began my two-mile warmup. When I got back the track, I noticed my Hubbard’s car in the parking lot to be the only new addition.

“All warmed up?” he asked.

“Sure.” I replied, pretty unenthusiastically.

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400s.  Five miles of four hundreds.  20 intervals, each lasting three minutes long.  A single sprint around the track.  Alone.  Needless to say, I was nervous.  I had done plenty of speed workouts in the past, heck I had already done one this week.  Alone, however, meant that Hub could really focus on every aspect of my intervals.  He could more accurately time me, recognize exactly where on the track my speed would fluctuate, and more.  All eyes were on me, and it was going to be one hell of a workout.  I had to dig deeper than ever before to be successful in this pursuit.

Take this interval easy…

No.

Your legs hurt…

No.

Slow down, you need energy for the next one…

No.

This one interval probably will not effect the success of our team…

No.

You really can’t dig any deeper…

No.

You can’t run any faster…

No.

To be the best I could be, to offer my best to my team, and to remain passionate about my workout, I had to fight.  I had to say “no,” again and again.

My cool down was well earned.  After returning from four miles of relaxed, massage running, Hubbard remarked the workout as a whole as one of my best ever.  I couldn’t agree more.  That single workout fueled me to find success in future races.  It taught pain is inevitable. It told me that my pain cannot be the reason my team doesn’t find success.  And while running the workout all alone in preparation for what most identify as a individualists sport, I couldn’t help but think that my teammates would be proud for me.

Leadership, for me, stems from “No.” It is taking the status quo and changing it., recognizing a cause to fight for, and never, ever settling.

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