The phrase 100X is simple and deep all at the same time. The number 100 simply means reaching 100% of the desired health or personal transformation of a person, encompassing their emotional intelligence, mental ability, and holistic leadership strength and effectiveness. The hallmarks of a leader at 100% could look like the following…
They are secure in who they are and confident with their abilities while remaining humble to those they serve. They are consistent in the way they lead so that people can count on them. They are self-aware and responsive when they have erred. They are intently for their people, not against them, or solely for themselves. They have something to give others because they are full of the positive even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Although 100% is rarely reached, the aspiration of being as healthy as a leader can be should be your goal—the ability to know yourself and lead yourself in order to be the most effective person/leader possible. And the X in 100X? The X stands for multiplication—the intentional transfer of knowledge, wisdom, and skills to those you lead. Once you journey up the mountain yourself and prove that you have what it takes, you will become the Sherpa for those you lead.
The Making of a Sherpa
Born at the highest levels of the Himalayas, the Sherpa, meaning “coming from the East,” are a people group that live in altitudes and temperatures that would cause most of us to faint. Intimately connected with their religion and worldview, the Sherpa people have many rituals and rites of passage along with a deep reverence for the mountains. Although they must manage the technical aspects of mountaineering, rope management, and emergency descents, as well as technical oxygen requirements, they simply have the unfair advantage of years of advanced acclimation!
It could also be said that the maker of the Sherpa is the mountain itself. The altitude forces the expansion of the lungs from the Sherpa’s first breath; the stories told by older climbers become their first memories. The mountain, with all its intricacies, is the trainer to the Sherpa. In the same way, the leadership journey—in the office, dealing with the team—is the trainer of the leader. It isn’t the seminar or the book that makes the difference but the atmosphere where leadership gets forced into action and the applied leadership learning that happens on the spot.
Becoming a Sherpa
Unless you are born a Sherpa, you cannot truly become one, as you must be born into that tribe and tradition. However, metaphorically speaking, to become a Sherpa is attainable in the leadership context. A Sherpa in this context is someone who has climbed his own mountain, learned how to lead himself and can thrive in higher altitudes, all the while helping other people climb up the same mountain. Figuratively speaking, the making of a Sherpa is the making of the 100X leader who must learn all of the technical aspects of leading, from communications to performance management to alignment and execution to dealing with people on every level.
Our objective then is to develop fully acclimated leaders who, like the Sherpa, can move up and down the mountain while helping others move up themselves. Here are some key attributes of the 100X leader we are espousing with the end goal of developing leaders who lead people effectively…
They must decide that they want to become someone worth following and want to learn the secrets to becoming one of the best leaders in the world. They must become self-aware, knowing who they are and why they do what they do and be willing to change those patterns and actions for the benefit of all. They must learn how to calibrate support and challenge as they fight for the highest possible good of those they lead. As they learn to be consistent leaders, they must learn to handle hard realities and adjust as they go. They must desire accountability and be teachable—humble enough to let others help them up to the next level. They are committed to a lifelong process of intentional self-improvement. They must overcome the arrogance that comes from pride and learn to create a culture of empowerment and growth in the midst of turmoil and drama.
Who Would You Follow?
The leaders that we know who are worth following are focused on becoming 100% healthy; they know their tendencies and own them, and they work hard to improve their patterns for the good of everyone. This is why the Sherpa analogy works so well. They truly are worth following up a mountain as their focus is consistently to help others climb. Helping others see their unconscious incompetence and leading them gently to a new level of self-awareness and health is what the best leaders in the world do. Healthy leaders who have earned the right because of their own self-awareness to intentionally transfer their learning to others have become leaders that others will choose to follow.
Ready to Climb
As you stand at base camp staring at a summit thousands of feet above, you can get spooked. Is this really worth it, you ask? The wind hits you as you step out of your tent. You are dressed and equipped. Your guides are rounding up the team, calling you up to steeper heights. It is time to climb.
Some of you will spend years climbing before you can lead others up the mountain. That is okay. The journey of 100X is actually the journey of being intentional—to wake you up from the accidental leadership that tends to lull people across the globe to sleep. You only get better when you practice, and we want you to start practicing climbing to 100% and once you are there, to start to practice the X—to multiply what you know to others.
There are great leaders who people want to follow, but the leaders’ inability to multiply limits their influence and often frustrates those trying to follow them. Many well-known “gurus” fit these criteria as they have great wisdom and appear hugely influential through their writings and speaking, but they are not prepared for the incredibly hard, unglamorous yards of devoting their time, talent, and treasure to helping others climb. You want to follow the leader who is creating an atmosphere where people want to be, not where they’re forced to be. The test is to look at the team and culture around them rather than their bank balance or possessions.