Earthquakes, Magnitude and Success

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Earthquakes, Magnitude and Success


Do you know how much more violent a 4.0 earthquake is compared to a 5.0 earthquake?  What about a 7.0?

It may seem, simply by looking at the numbers, that a 4.0 quake would produce a similar but slightly less devastating result than a 5.0 quake.  However, this isn’t anywhere near the truth.

As measured with a seismometer, an earthquake that registers 5.0 on the Richter Scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times that of an earthquake that registered 4.0, and thus corresponds to a release of energy 31.6 times that released by the lesser earthquake.

The number of earthquakes registering 2.5 – 5.4 is estimated to be 30,000 annually.  Conversely, the number of 5.5 – 6.0 quakes drops to just 500 per year.  That’s less than 2% of the lesser magnitude in scale.

Why is this important to my readers?

Because I see a powerful relationship between mediocrity and 30,000 quakes per year.  No one really ever feels the efforts of these actions (or earthquakes), because the magnitude of the efforts are weakly measurable at best.  Check out the image below to associate a visual to what I’m discussing.


I ask myself, “How many daily activities would I label as: Not felt, Minor, Small, or even Moderate in magnitude?”

Even better follow up, what are my expectations for the outcomes of these activities?  I’m guessing they don’t match.  Maybe the image and corresponding labels below will help better paint the picture.  I love pictures and colors so this one really hits home.


The reason I chose to write about this topic and how it collides with success is because I was listening to Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk.  He talks passionately about cashing in on your talents and passions by getting all-in on a topic and executing fearlessly.  His well-pronounced goal is to own the NY Jets.  Not a small goal, and definitely one where massive action and focused energy will need to be invested over a long period of time to achieve it.

The magnitude of our outcomes (and success) is closely related to the investment we’re willing to make.

If I’m not willing to invest a great deal of effort and energy into a project, business or idea, then my results WILL BE (100%) limited to the bottom end of the magnitude scale.  Many goals, multiplied by little effort, eat up massive amounts of your time and energy for minimal outcomes.

However, lets consider the highest magnitude.  Who are those individuals experiencing massive success?  They are labeled in the chart above as “Outstanding” or “Extraordinary.”  What do they have in common and how do they spend their time?  Also, notice there are substantially fewer of these super successful people in volume when compared to the mediocre many.  Probably less than 1% of the population.

I don’t think this can be understated.  Little goals, limited effort, and the minor impact outcome are related.  No one feels a minor quake, and 30,000+ happen every year!

ACTION ITEM: I’m personally doing an audit and taking a look at the aspects of my life in which I feel like I’m creating a very minimal impact.  The next choice I must make is to either eliminate the activity or refocus and rededicate my efforts.  Not all efforts deserve the same attention and energy.  I hope this audit will also serve you well.

Would You Rather Be A Guru Or A Proven Learner?

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The word guru carries less weight in my mind than ever before.  When I hear someone labeled as a guru my spine shivers and I immediately put my guard up.  Maybe this is because the word is one of the most overused words in our vocabulary.

So what worries me so much about the word guru?

I believe many using this word use it to either: describe themselves in a higher being, or describe someone on their team (sort of inside baseball) to make them seem smarter than they really are.

The word “guru” also states to me the person has already figured something out with their jedi-like mind tricks.  Guru is supposed to reflect a teacher, and today I feel like the term is often misused as “already figured it out intelligence.”

Here is the challenge I see with this.

The world we live in is moving and evolving so fast.  I don’t need a guru, I need more learners who can adapt quickly.  I need to surround myself with people who can evolve, and reverse engineer plans and strategies for success.  The really talented people of the next 10 years will adapt and evolve to be successful in multiple endeavors because of their learning style.

I don’t need people who’ve already figured it out with their labels and you don’t either.  They can stay stuck in the rut of what they already know and their “guru-ism” of a topic. This leads to death of teams, brands, and businesses.

I need people willing and not afraid to tackle new challenges, new strategies, and create new problems.  I need a learning mindset flexible to the challenges of the future.  These people will continue to grow their minds, experiences, and new opportunities will continue to present themselves to these individuals.


ACTION ITEM: You have to commit to a life of learning.  If you want to be a guru, please be a guru of 19th century history because it will never change.

The Most Overlooked Leadership Skill

Here is a list I found from Forbes titled, “Top 10 Qualities that Make a Great Leader“.  Pretty good list.  However, I truly believe there is a gapping hole in this list.  What powerful leadership skill is being overlooked?

I think it’s an extremely simple skill and maybe that is exactly why it is overlooked and often difficult to master.

The skill: Vulnerability Screen-shot-2012-08-09-at-9.21.01-AM

As most of you have already jumped to a conclusion on my addition, I’m going to ask you to pump the brakes for a definition of vulnerable.

vul·ner·a·ble: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. (Of a person) in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect.

There is some very powerful language used in this definition.  Here are a few impactful words that really stand out to me.

  • Susceptible
  • Attack
  • Harm
  • Support
  • Risk

Immediately this doesn’t feel right.  It feels to me like a “vulnerable” leader is a weak leader.  Not exactly the skill set pouring out of leadership books for the last 20 years.  However, is the world different today than it was 20 years ago?

Team members and successful organizations today want to have something to believe in.  More to the point, they want to work with someone they can TRUST.  There are many ways to earn trust, but I think one way is to open up and show your true colors.  Possibly even more important, showcase you don’t know everything and have made mistakes.

Transparency is a word I’m not terribly fond of currently because of its massive overuse in political jockeying.  But, transparency is a reality of being vulnerable.

The vulnerable leader understands better than most their strengths, and the biggest time saver of all, their weaknesses.  The vulnerable leader knows what they don’t know.  The vulnerable leader has struggles (as we all do) in life and isn’t afraid to let others in to see the real person battling these struggles.  The vulnerable leader is a servant leader.

Contrast this with the old school leaders we learned about growing up.  The leaders who pushed with an iron fist, strong will, and an indestructible armor of confidence.

The reason the vulnerable leader will continue to gain traction and transcend board rooms is simple.  There are far too many choices today to work for the selfish leader.  Business success is about having great relationships.  How many great relationships are you in today where the cornerstone of trust was laid with vulnerability?

ACTION ITEMS: It’s okay to let others in and let them see the real you.  I can promise you, it’s far more rewarding than obsessing over the maintenance of perfection.