Most successes in life don’t come out of panic — they come out of composure and inclusion
Legendary golfer Byron Nelson Jr. was known for his gentlemanly demeanor, his composure and his cool. He has done everything from inventing the modern golf swing to winning the Congressional Gold Medal. But what is really cool is that Orange County Choppers built him a bike.How does a person build such a cool reputation that lasts so long, and continues to attract “cool?” Nelson was a leader in his world partially because he was how he was — polite, measured, poised and cool to be with.I like to believe that success is born from being a leader of others and ourselves, and that everyone is capable of it. It does not matter what you do, where you are in your organization, or how much power you have in your position. In the right situations, all of us can shine. However, if we look at most successes in life, they don’t come out of panic — they come out of composure and inclusion.I remember watching Rudy Giuliani after the events of 9/11 and feeling his leadership. He remained calm, displayed poise and all of us as Americans were called to the cause. That did not translate to the presidential election.Carly Fiorina of HP and Meg Whitman of eBay were both cool business leaders, but not so much as politicians.Jesse James the TV welder is a different kind of cool, in a pop culture way. He’s a guy we might like to hang with, but that did not translate to his personal life. It turns out his ex-wife, Sandra Bullock, is cooler.Can we create environments that support the benefits of being cool? Where does cool fit into success, leadership and professional culture?I asked the Future of Everything panel what was cool about leadership and business culture, and there was an immediate acknowledgement of meaning. They knew what cool meant — they have felt it, they recognize it, and they agreed that a cool company and a cool leader is of value in the future.Their first responses were that cool at work is a “feel,” “vibe” and a “mojo.” Then they got concrete very fast. Cool to them meant the following: • Cool is the contradiction in overcoming — the least obvious person winning and the underdog succeeding by wit. It’s being smart and clever combined with real. It’s the nerds ascending to CEO of the biggest companies and the underachiever changing an industry. Let’s face it, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are cool. • Ability to cultivate ideas beyond the traditional boundaries. It’s cool to think some crazy idea. It’s a whole other thing to keep pushing the idea through the thousands of obstacles. Cool is the ability to collaborate outside the paradigm we find ourselves in, invite people in to play with these ideas, and start developing believers. • Cool is working with diversity, bringing the most varied people together and connecting at a whole new level. Part of that cool is that everyone finds out they are more alike than not, but where the gaps are where the answers lie. Assemble a group of the same together and it is not only not cool, you will likely come to standard conclusions. What fun is that? • Cool is working from the bottom up. Not mining and aligning the bottom, but expecting the contribution to come from the bottom. When an organization is cool to work for is when everyone runs things. There is no rank perceived, just a sense that we are all part of something. I believe President Obama won the election because he called on people to participate in their future. • Cool is being passionate in a way that brings folks along, enlists them, wins them and then leads them. A coolbuster is being defensive and trying to keep everything the same.The litmus test to being cool is a sense of purpose, a knowing of where to go, even if you don’t know where you’ll end up. The results are not guaranteed, but once realized are sweet. The risk is attractive, and only risk pays off big. Results are really cool.Under the direction of Russ Ouellette, managing partner of Sojourn Partners, Bedford, The Future of Everything Project brings together panels of thought leaders from diverse backgrounds to brainstorm, collaborate and proactively craft a vision of “what can be.” Project participants on this topic included Jeremy Hitchcock, CEO of Dyn Inc., Melissa Albano, president of Grapevine Marketing and David Roedel, partner of The Roedel Companies. Ouellette can be reached at 603-472-8103 or email@example.com.