Driving down the winding hillsides of 360 in Austin, Texas, I looked to my left and my right. Cars were honking at me for going so slowly. I didn’t even notice. The mansions on either side of the road had me in a trance. How do these people afford these homes, I thought to myself. I was convinced that if I could only benchmark off these people, I could own a home like that too.
Certainly most of the people who owned these multi-million dollar homes were people of great success. I’m sure there were surgeons and heirs to fortune, but without a doubt there had to be a few people who were once like me.
There had to be a few guys in there who, at one point, were in their early twenties on the verge of graduating college. They had dreams of finding a company they could work at and grow themselves into a leader. I’m sure they had dreams of becoming a titan of industry and creating the next big thing, just like me. If I could only talk to these guys, I could surely benchmark off their success.
Benchmarking is what makes the world go around. Benchmarking is what you do when you take something good and make it better. Think of the iPhone, it’s just a good cell phone really. But then there’s more. Steve Jobs took what was good (a cell phone and mp3 player) and made it great (the iPhone). The secret to success is often found in a benchmark. I’ve met many people who understand this concept and try to implement it. What I find many people don’t know is how to benchmark correctly.
Research – How can you benchmark off something if you don’t already know what is the best thing out there? Find the best of whatever it is you’d like to benchmark. Do you want to make millions and be a CEO with a busy schedule or do you want to live modestly but do what you love? Research to find where your passion truly lies. Then, research to find the best.
Reapply – Once you’ve found your benchmark to solve whatever problem you’re trying to solve, you must make it apply to your unique circumstances. For example, I’ve used Michael Hyatt’s Ideal week to create my own week. Of course I’m not retired, so I have to change my blocks to fit my life.
Reverse Engineer – Once you’ve found something good, dissect it. What makes it good? What makes the leader you look up to a great leader? What does he do well and what does he do poorly? Identifying both is critical.
Improve – Once you’ve found your benchmark, you’ve fit it into your lifestyle and dissected the good and the bad; figure out how to improve it. For example, I love using the concept of Michael Hyatt’s Ideal week. But I’ve taken it a step further and integrated Nozbe and my calendar to give it impact.
Using a Benchmark, as your launching point is a skill many successful people have mastered. Don’t do the legwork of creating from scratch. Jump to the front of the line by finding the best solution currently being applied. Then make it your own. Make it better. There is a wealth of resources on the web to help you do this. I’ve written posts such as “A Beginner’s Guide to 20,000 Followers” and “The Secret to 1,000% Growth”. Take the principles I’ve found handy and make them your own, make them better.
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