in·ten·si·ty [in-ten-si-tee]
– great energy, strength, concentration, vehemence, etc., as of activity, thought, or feeling

Why do some people train hard in the gym and play hard on the court, while others go through the motions?  Are those hours equally well spent?  Some would ask what the point is of showing up if you aren’t going to get everything you can out of it.  Others would say that at least the second person bothered to go at all.

The difference is in intensity, which is a key ingredient of performance, success and, indeed, leadership.  Here is my take on it:

  • Focus and intensity are necessary for great achievement, whether in sports, the arts, or business.
  • Some people are blessed (or cursed?) with natural drive and intensity that they apply to everything they do; for everyone else, it comes down to your purpose – the “why” you are doing it.
  • If you want to succeed and achieve something great, then find the purpose that will motivate you.  For the purpose that resonates, we can tap into a natural reservoir of intensity to accomplish even more.

As an example, my friend Susan had what she terms a “meandering career”, moving mostly sideways across medium-sized financial firms.  With the birth of her first child 10 years ago, she decided that if she was going to be away from home then it had better be worth it.  This fuelled a new intensity about her career, which she ramped up by joining a top-tier bank.  Now, 10 years later, she is a Managing Director running a profitable business unit for that global bank (and also happy at home).

Bottom line:  If you’re going to do something, do it like you mean it.  Don’t waste time just going through the motions.