Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless

Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless

Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless

By Craig Johns

Have you ever wondered what allows someone to achieve high levels of success? 

Whether in sport, business, leadership, music, art or many other areas of life, they find a way to achieve extraordinary things. They may be extremely gifted, but quite often they aren’t the most talented. 

What separates the best from the rest, the ordinary from the extraordinary?

Successful leadership requires a high performance mindset and approach. 

Being relentless in your pursuit of performance is important if you want to succeed, however you need to be relentless without being ruthless and reckless if you want to leave a profound legacy without the train wreck that follows so many successful people.

Before you dive in further, let’s first understand what relentless, ruthless and reckless mean in the context of leadership and high performance.  

RELENTLESS – non-stop commitment

Someone who is relentless is determined to do something and refuses to give up. They will continue to pursue a goal, continually overcoming obstacles and creating new paths when one is leading in the wrong direction. 

It doesn’t mean they will necessarily be full speed ahead 24/7, although as you see below they can be. They will be fixated on an outcome and for some they will do whatever they can at all costs. 

RUTHLESS – taking no prisoners

A ruthless person will do or pursue something no matter the costs to other people or themselves. They are mean, show no mercy and don’t care about a person’s, others or theirs, feelings or emotions.  

Ruthless people lack compassion, are considered very harsh or cruel, will do anything that is necessary to achieve what they want and are determined to succeed without caring about others.

RECKLESS – careless of consequences

Taking a reckless approach means a person doesn’t care about getting bad results or the negative consequences that occur as a result or your actions. They disregard danger and the effect their behaviour will have on other people.

Warning signs don’t enter the memory sphere and are considered wasted space. The risks involved aren’t either considered or are disregarded for a bigger result. 

Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless 3 R's Craig Johns

When All 3 R’s Collide

It is likely that you have seen people act in a relentless, ruthless or reckless way. You may have seen people act in a combination of two or all three of them and in most cases the trail of destruction isn’t pretty. 

If we are all being honest with ourselves, a majority, if not all, of us have been in situations where we have experienced modes of each one and combinations of the three. I know I have and the times where all 3 aligned are not some of my favourite memories.

“When I was 14 years old I broke my arm while playing touch rugby at school. My relentless approach to winning and in field hockey helping my team win meant I would continue playing with an arm in a cast. We were winning by 5 goals and on my relentless approach to continue adding to my 47 consecutive successful penalty stroke conversions, I shifted into a ruthless and reckless mode of disregarding the thoughts of my teammates by deciding to take a penalty stroke with the broken arm. Joe was a highly accomplished penalty stroke taker and great co-leader, but my ego kicked in and I had to take it. I ended up missing the goal and breaking my unbeaten successful attempts.

Craig Johns
Relentless Pursuit of Athletic Dominance Craig Johns

Relentless Pursuit of Athletic Dominance

Michael Jordan is regarded as one of the all time best athletes the planet has seen. His pursuit of excellence is second to none. Relentless in every approach to being the best basketball player the planet has ever seen. Ruthless in his addiction to bringing the best out of his teammates for the collective goal of winning, but at times reckless in regards to the long-term mental and physical toll inflicted on them. 

If we look at the 3 greatest male tennis players of recent times, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, they all excel in their relentless pursuit of excellence. 

Djokovic has a massive team and will leave no stone unturned in finding that extra 0.001% of performance, however his ruthless approach to getting what he wants is well publicised and even more his reckless disregard of the consequences of his actions was for all of the world to see as he his visa was cancelled on trying to enter the 2022 Australian Open. 

Nadal is relentless in his preparation and routine to achieve the performance state that it takes to win global majors. His ruthless attention to his own routines has quite often impacted other people. However, is not likely to show signs of recklessness as he is quite calculated in his approach to winning. 

Federer on the other hand is relentless in ensuring all aspects of his life thrive while understanding the changing needs of his body as he ages. Over the past decade he has shown a relentless approach to finding a way to win or stay in the game. The ruthless and reckless aspects of his personality from his younger days have disappeared. 

Business Is Not Bigger Than the People. Relentless without being ruthless or reckless

Business Is Not Bigger Than the People

Shifting into the business world, let’s compare 3 highly successful business leaders Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Indra Nooyi. 

Musk is noted for his relentless pursuit of new innovations. He is known for his long work hours and ruthless approach to the working environment. The collateral damage in his reckless disregard of his personal life has led to his 3rd marriage and his children don’t speak to him. Also known for his unorthodox or unscientific stances and controversial public statements. At what cost has success been for Musk?

Facebook changed the shape of our lives and how we view it. In Zuckerberg’s relentless pursuit of socially connecting the world, the negative consequences have resulted in a reckless disregard to the mental health of humanity. He was ruthless in crushing the competition, acquiring rival companies and copying innovative features with a single-minded purpose of being the best and most dominant social media conglomerate. 

Nooyi is one of the pioneers of the new leadership. Her relentless approach to being human centric and changing the way the Pepsico was perceived is admired by many people around the world. She has done it in a compassionate and humble way without the need for being ruthless and reckless. 

High performing leaders Relentless without being ruthless or reckless. Craig Johns

High Performing Leaders

The true high performing leader’s relentless pursuit of an outcome or excellence is all about being 100% present and focused when on task, and switching off to recharge and recover in between high energy focused efforts. 

“I learned this the hard way between 2012-2014 when I stepped into my first C-Suite role leading a team of 500 people from 22 nationalities and highly talented people in the sport, health, mind, education and hospitality industries. My relentless approach led to working intensely for 70-80hrs a week over 302 days straight.

Our ruthless approach to demanding excellence, removing people who weren’t up to our high standards and crazy drive to be world leading at everything we did led to recklessly flatlining in hospital. I had let my own inner drive to win become win at all costs and it led to quite a lonely time where I had put work before my people and my health. 

This led to a conversation where I realised I needed to Break The CEO Code and implement the high performance skills I had learnt and excelled at as an athlete and sport coach.

The result is I relentlessly focused on scheduling, focusing and investing in my energy to ensure that I avoided moments of ruthless and reckless behaviour.“

Craig Johns

They are driven to achieve results, make effective decisions and exceed expectations through bringing the best out of themselves and the people they work with. 

To bring their best performance mindset, performance and productivity, they know they need to integrate regular exercise, good nutrition, a calm mind and purposeful recovery into their daily environment.  

They work hard, but more importantly work smart in their relentless pursuit achieving a higher level of individual, team, company and industry performance. Knowing what to focus on, where to place their energy and how to use their talents is a priority to a high performing leader. 

Wellbeing, enjoyment, purpose and inspired people fuel their approach to leading highly successful teams. Work is all about precision, efficiency and detail and never settling for anything less than excellence. The leaders are concerned about providing an environment where people can thrive and not just survive in their role. 

Removing the Unnecessary

To be relentless without being ruthless or reckless requires precision in planning, preparation and people management. Your instinct and how you react has everything to do with your practice. What you practice becomes your performance. 

Take some time to remove the unnecessary risks and actions so you and your team can thrive no matter what the world throws your way.  

It’s time to take a selfless proactive approach to your leadership so you can relentlessly pursue your vision and goals without ruthlessly affecting other people and reckless creating harm. 

Remember a relentless non-stop commitment means you do everything you can be on when you need to be and also off to recharge. Leadership and high performance is not about taking no prisoners and being careless of the consequences.   

Spend some time to reflect on your leadership and pursuit of a vision, goal or excellence. Write down any aspects of ruthless and reckless leadership. Next to this list write down what you could do that wouldn’t have any negative effects on other people or danger to yourself and the company. Now take action to implement these changes while still being relentless.   

Be an Inspiring Great Leader.

How Heavy is the Weight of the World on Your Shoulders Link
How Gravity of Leadership Effects Your Impact Link
Beyond The Comfort Zone Link
High Performers Cultivate More Powerful Traits Link
Are You Living Link
People Are Our Greatest Assets Link
Are Leaders Born? Link


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