One mayor had the audacity to consider a different path – and the willingness to help carve it.
As the road through the Peruvian countryside turns from well-marked pavement to pitted gravel, city lights and sounds give way to thatch roofs and natural silence. In this setting one mayor shed the near crippling weight of history and circumstance and social forces to do something radical.
He had the idea to have an idea.
Others soon followed. They pooled their collective resources to attract economic development specialists, foreign investment, and higher-value local entrepreneurship. These mayors had re-wired their mindset and, they expected, the future of their people.
Why was he able to do what so many before him could not?
That day he shattered the world record for a 100-meter freestyle – but the real genius happened much sooner.
Many will remember the Beijing summer Olympics for Michael Phelps breaking Mark Spitz’s record by winning eight gold medals. Fewer will appreciate the herculean role Jason Lezak played in helping Phelps to break that record.
In world-class sprint swimming, tenths of a second might as well be miles. Lezak began the final leg of the race with what most thought to be an insurmountable deficit. And then broke the then world record by six tenths of a second.
Lezak made dramatic changes to his training approach leading up to those games – many of them mental.
That’s where understanding his success begins.
Adam’s friend immediately saw the powerful correlation to giving people their heads.
Adam rode a tall quarter horse and saddled his novice-rider friend on a deep black Arabian. Along the way Adam gave his friend a riding tip, “Never give the horse his head.”
About a quarter mile into the trail the riders came to a gravel road. Adam’s friend saw his opportunity to test his new riding skills and dug his heels in to the horse to see what it could do. The horse launched forward.
Worried and upset, Adam rode up to his friend and yelled, “I told you to never give him his head.”
The friend explained that he didn’t even know what that meant.
“Giving him his head means you allow enough slack in the reins for him to feel like he can go as fast as he wants. Once he gets that in his mind, there’s no stopping him.”
A similar, but positive effect occurs, when people are given their heads.
Southwest Airlines’ competitive advantage is deeper than its strategy.
“Tell me what happened.” The passenger was seething with anger as he explained disappointment with his airport experience.
The flight attendant leaned toward the gentleman and – looking him in the eye – shared, “It’s the beginning of the day and you’ve had something awful happen to you, but don’t you let him take this day from you.” She went on: “If you let him take this day from you – he wins. And you deserve to have a great day.” She described that this gentleman seemed like a good guy – not the type to let someone rob him of being that person- not even for a moment.
Nothing more was needed.
Southwest airlines has become the industry standard for innovation and financial performance.
But effective strategy is only part of the story.
Everything you care about is impacted by mindset. Read the work that has influenced Fortune 500 executives, elite university classrooms, government agencies, and many more from diverse walks of life. Nearly every performance metric runs through mindset positioning.
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