Some people have an intention to get in better shape, but don’t realize the results they want. They bought the bowflex or joined the gym and still saw no change. Why is that? The answers to that question will also give insight into our intentions as leaders, whether we want a better team, want improved leadership skills, or want to see success in a specific initiative.

In order to get better, we have to be 100% honest about these 5 areas:

How good is the plan? In order to get faster, leaner or stronger we need to have a solid plan. People can have things that look like plans (like “go to the gym” or “eat better”) that are not in fact real plans. It is not enough. What exactly will you do at the gym? What exactly will you eat? People need real plans (and not based on latest hype) that will take them from here to there. If you want to run a marathon, you need a detailed plan to how to advance your run distances. If you have an injury or specific condition, then you need expert help to accommodate it. If you don’t know what you should do, then get expert help.

How good is my support network? Once we have a plan we need to have resources to help us along the way. When marathon training, people often have a support network in the form of a team, a coach, or both. At work this may also include these plus mentors and peers. A quality network can help us stay accountable or to answer questions that come up. If you don’t have one get one.

How high is my conviction? Conviction means being fully bought in to the value of an activity. Some people like the idea of getting better, but they are not convicted that this is something that must be pursued. Some leaders like the idea of raising the bar, or being better collaborators, or having a stronger team, but either start with low conviction or let it erode. Add up all the reasons why you want to invest your time and energy in this? (and be sure to include costs of not taking any action)

How disciplined am I? Discipline is doing things with consistency. We cannot out-train a poor diet. If we want to be strong AND lean, then we need to have consistency on all key elements. To be a better runner I can’t just run long distance when I want, I have to run long distance when I need to. As a leader who wants to be better at time management cannot just try some tips for a couple weeks, then abandon them when things get busy. We need to persist with things long enough to give them a chance to work. Set yourself up for success by creating your own structure and supplement it with your support team.

How hard did I really try? Visit any gym and take a look around. How many people do you see playing on their phone while they are on a piece of exercise equipment? How many are having extended conversations with their trainer while “working out?” These people showed up but their level of effort was poor. We need to get real about how hard we tried. Leaders will tell me they tried X and “it didn’t work.” How hard did they really try to get people interested in their idea? Did they get rejected and just take their ball and go home? That is just lazy. How hard did they really try to coach somebody up? Did they give up after one sideways conversation? Like Ronnie Coleman (former champion bodybuilder) puts it: “everybody wants to be big, but nobody wants to lift the heavy-a** weights.”

To get better we need to get honest. We need to be honest about our plan, our support, our conviction, our discipline, and our level of effort.