Success Gates








Many years ago while in banking I heard the tale of a young loan officer whose customer defaulted on a $10 million loan. Shortly after he was called into the President’s office sitting nervously as the President began to describe in detail a new project he was being assigned. While explaining it the President noticed a perplexed look on the loan officer’s face and asked if there was a problem to which the young banker replied “Actually Sir, I thought you were calling me in to fire me for making the bad loan.”  The President leaned over his desk and replied

“Now why would I do that? Hell Son, I’ve just invested $10 million in your education!”

As I’ve written before, there are no failures in business, just expensive tuition for lessons learned. And, hopefully time and experience has taught us to, like the bank President, to show patience with those who’ve tried and missed.

But what of the flip side – the rapid climbers who jump from rung to rung on the ladder? The ones who’ve had tremendous success at their current position, have they paid dues commensurate warranting the new position?

Indeed past performance is a certain barometer to future success but don’t let it blind you. Take a hard look at the position to which they’re being considered and ask a few questions because the higher one goes the larger the cost when making mistakes.

Have they grinded through a full business cycle? It’s important to understand the ebbs and flows of your business. Most can and will succeed during an upswing.

What is the most important experience needed for this new level? New levels mean new tasks and responsibilities. Make sure the most important ones have been mastered or you’ve sufficient support available.

What happened to their last department after leaving – did it flourish or were they simply the Genius with 1000 Helpers ala Jim Collins? Many can and will succeed on sheer will power that once missing creates a vacuum of failure. Unless it’s a hired gun needed at the new level, pay close attention to their ability to develop others.

Have they stayed in one place long enough to learn the tough lessons? This is really THE question around which all others revolve and the one that’s most difficult to answer as we’re often blinded by potential. But the only way to prove that potential is to test it. To see how they recover when knocked down.

In Biking we’ve an adage that there are only two types of riders, those who’ve laid it down and those who will. When the weather’s bad and road conditions treacherous who do you want to be riding with?


As alwaysThese are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to pile on, please do so.  I look forward to the conversation.