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Episode #362: Chris McChesney – How to Achieve Your Wildly Important Goals

Chris McChesney is a Wall Street Journal #1 Best-Selling Author – The 4 Disciplines of Execution. In his current role of Global Practice Leader of Execution for FranklinCovey, Chris is one of the primary developers of The 4 Disciplines of Execution. For more than a decade, he has led FranklinCovey’s design and development of these principles, as well as the consulting organization that has become the fastest growing area of the company.


  • Sustaining excellence = They execute on the strategy that’s been launched…
    • They have amazing drive
    • High expectations – They expect a lot of everyone and do it in a positive way
    • They “radiate love.” Warmth…
  • Strategy to execution — It’s an art and a science
  • “Execution doesn’t like complexity…”
    • Great leaders develop pattern recognition over time. An experienced quarterback has more repetitions and the game “slows down” which creates a situation he recognizes
  • Three components to any strategy to execution process:
    • Lower the blood pressure — “Stroke of the pen.”
    • Take life support measurements
    • Break through
  • What is a ‘stroke of the pen’ action as a mid level manager?
    • Modify the portfolio, work within the limited budget, figure out incentives, hiring decisions, combining territories
  • “Sometimes in life our challenges are really hidden opportunities.”
    • Chris did an unpaid internship.  He warned that with Stephen Covey by continuing to show up and add value to the lives of the people at the company.
  • Advice: “Work outside of your job description but within your influence.”
    • “Don’t fall in love with a solution, fall in love with a problem.”
  • “I have never gotten a job from a standard interview process… I’ve gotten seduced by a problem… And then worked to solve it.”
    • This is how Chris created a company within a company. He identified that execution was a problem, and worked to solve it.
  • Useful feedback Chris received earlier in his career from a mentor: “Chris, when you come to headquarters, people like you, but you aren’t fun to work with.”
    • The power of honest, specific, feedback.  Paul Walker (President) – “It’s never about him. He’s always interested in understanding what’s going on around him and with others.”
  • Pat Lencioni – Not everyone should be a leader… “I don’t like the term ‘servant leadership.’ It makes it sound like there’s any other way.”
  • The 4 Disciplines of Execution:
    • Focus on the Wildly Important — Exceptional execution starts with narrowing the focus— clearly identifying what must be done, or nothing else you achieve really matters much.
    • Act on the Lead Measures — Twenty percent of activities produce eighty percent of results. The highest predictors of goal achievement are the 80/20 activities that are identified and codified into individual actions and tracked fanatically.
    • Keep a Compelling Scoreboard — People and teams play differently when they are keeping score, and the right kind of scoreboards motivate the players to win.
    • Create a Cadence of Accountability — Great performers thrive in a culture of accountability that is frequent, positive, and self-directed. Each team engages in a simple weekly process that highlights successes, analyzes failures, and course-corrects as necessary, creating the ultimate performance-management system.
  • “As legendary Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”
  • “People who try to push many goals at once usually wind up doing a mediocre job on all of them. You can ignore the principle of focus, but it won’t ignore you.”
  • “If you ignore the urgent, it can kill you today. It’s also true, however, that if you ignore the important, it can kill you tomorrow”
  • “Managing a company by looking at financial data (lag measures) is the equivalent of “driving a car by looking in the rearview mirror.”
  • Optimization – Consistency is wildly important. Lock down elements of the process. Anchor the process at two points. Rule – “If we can meet the lead measure for 14 weeks, we’re calling it a habit.”

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