Five essential skills are needed to create and build a great business.
Leaders need these skills if their business is to have the size, the scale, the magnitude, the power, and the ecstatic quality needed to enter the race and stay in it for the long haul.
Beyond being essential for a business to succeed, these skills help everyone, leader or not, to excel and get fulfillment from their work, their play, their relationships--their lives.
To the extent that the people within a business possess these five skills, then the business itself will also possess them.
Think of any business you believe to be great--Apple, Starbucks, FedEx, McDonald's, or Microsoft, for example--and think about how they reflect each of the five essential skills I'm about to describe.
And think about where you stand in relation to them, too.
Concentration is the ability to direct one's attention with laser-like focus.
It's the most fundamental of the five essential skills and the foundation upon which all right action in the world depends.
Without concentration, a business will be ordinary in every respect, because it will have no presence, no inner force, no way to attract the people upon whom it depends for its very existence--employees, customers, suppliers, and lenders.
Discrimination is the ability to choose, wisely and precisely, where to direct one's attention.
If concentration provides attention and focus, then discrimination provides intention--the will to select the most important work to do.
People who lack the skill of discrimination tend to believe that everything is of relatively equal importance.
In doing so, they fall into the trap of overlooking what's truly significant in favor of what's merely urgent.
Organization is not, at its core, about org charts, division of labor, or management policies.
Organization is more profound that that--it's the ability to turn chaos into order.
There are three things that can be organized: time, space, and work. Note that, despite what many believe, you cannot organize people--you can only organize the work that people do.
Organization of time is about optimizing energy to achieve objectives, allowing the right amount of time--not too much and not too little--to efficiently complete the tasks at hand.
Organization of space delivers the right tools in the right place at the right time and in the right quantity to support the work at hand with an economy of effort.
Organization of work identifies the best and most natural ways to take action, the relationships between functions, and how to best coordinate them.
When done well, organization produces a sense of great ease, calm, confidence, and security.
Innovation is sometimes called the "best way" skill because it is always in search of perfection.
Where organization concerns itself mainly with efficiency, innovation concerns itself with effectiveness and continuous improvement.
Innovation has a childlike quality. It is playful, bright, light, and joyful. It is always imagining new possibilities and acting on that imagining.
But, in its childlike vein, innovation is willing to try anything, which may lead to being irresponsible. Left to its own devices, innovation can get itself into trouble.
That's why, without concentration, discrimination, and organization, innovation could very well sink the ship.
On the other hand, without innovation, the ship wouldn't be very much fun.
Communication is the bond we have with the world and, as such, it's the skill through which results are produced in the world.
Communication is the channel through which life is conveyed, through which ideas and the energy behind them are transmitted, and through which the mind, body, and spirit are merged into a force for right action.
These five essential skills--concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation, and communication--get to the very heart, the nitty gritty, if you will, of what it takes to conceive, create, build, and grow a meaningful, sustainable business enterprise.
And the best news is, you can develop them. You can work on your life to improve your life by developing the intensity and focus these five skills provide.
Work ON it, not IN it, is the final expression of skill, the one upon which, and within which, each of the five are applied.