Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless

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.

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Why Curiosity Is So Important




By Craig Johns

Curiosity leads to breakthrough discoveries and remarkable inventions. So why do we see companies stifling curiosity in the workplace?

It is normal for humans to seek new information and experiences. By cultivating curiosity and the promotion of exploring novel possibilities throughout a company, employees will think deeper and more rationally about decisions.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. 


If we step back in time, when we were a child, we had an insatiable need to explore and understand the world around us. We were not afraid to challenge the status quo by asking lots of questions, tasting things we probably shouldn’t or doing something for the first time, without the worry of whether we were wrong or offending anyone.

As we grew older we become more self-conscious, try to appear more confident and show that we know what we are doing. By the time we arrive as adults, our curiosity is quite suppressed as fear of being judged and not living up to other people’s expectations creeps in.

The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.”


Curiosity leads to creativity and innovation, which is important for you and your company to adapt to uncertain market conditions and external pressures. It creates an environment that inspires employees to improve their collaborative relationships, trust and more respect of their leader.

Leaders can fall into the trap of thinking that curiosity will increase risk and inefficiency. They stumble with the conundrum faced between the now and the future. How do we meet budget, sales targets, membership numbers and deadlines, when we know that we need to allow time where employees have the freedom to create new products, services, processes and business lines?

“Curiosity, especially intellectual inquisitiveness, is what separates the truly alive with those who are merely going through the motions. 


Finding the balance of exploration versus efficiency is an important component of a leader. Employees, who are under pressure to complete tasks quickly, tend to avoid asking questions about how they can improve their output and enhance the possible outcomes. When we question the status quo, we may not always produce useful information or solutions, but we also may prevent a decision being made that is catastrophic for your role and your company.

We perform better when we are curious because we view the tough situations more creatively. High performing employees, who are curious, seek more information from their colleagues, which helps improve the work that they do. They perform better because information is openly shared and they listen more carefully. New ideas are created, job satisfaction is improved, motivation increases and innovation flourishes as curiosity leads to a high performance environment.

“Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward opening up new doors and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity leads us down new paths. 


The power of solving problems together and looking at suitable alternatives, brings teams closer together. It allows employees to step into another employees shoes, look at it from another perspective and allows them to work together in a more effective manner.

How will you spark new ideas, rather than killing the flame, today?


To learn more about proactively planning your recovery and scheduling your energy, please DOWNLOAD the Break the CEO Code Whitepaper


Beyond The Comfort Zone Link
High Performers Cultivate More Powerful Traits Link
Are You Living Link
People Are Our Greatest Assets Link
It’s All About Trust Link
Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link


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Are You Seeing The big Picture Craig Johns


Do you know what helps you navigate the clutter, complexity and commotion on a daily basis that allows you to take a birds eye view and see the big picture?

It is a challenge when you have your head down, in the zone and focused on the task at hand to understand where you are at and even sometimes to clarify what the big picture really is. The big picture is about:

  • Knowing not just how and what to do, but knowing why
  • Viewing the whole and not just its parts
  • Seeing a vision, a sense of the bigger picture
  • Having the ability to see significance in work, beyond the obvious
  • Understanding that a legacy will live on, whether in the bricks and morter or in the impact made on other people

You have to know what naturally helps you to clear the mind and find the space to step outside your body and mind so you can focus on what is really important. For me, it is going for a long ride by myself or running on a trail. I find it’s my form of meditation and reality check.

Some people find travel helps them to find a clearer perspective, as 10,000 feet up provides a pretty good birds eye view of situations. Another common time is when listening to podcasts that challenge our ways of thinking, leadership strategies or are industry related.

Sometimes we find it difficult to see the big picture by ourselves. You may find it easier through conversations with a friend, colleague or even a group of like-minded people in a “circle of trust’ monthly catch-up over a coffee.

When it comes to financial analysis, you may find manually writing out your budget or financial reviews with pen and paper allows you think of the numbers in a different way than on a computer screen where formulas are producing numbers for you.

A lot of people will work continuously without breaks during a day. Research shows that our ability to perform tasks diminishes after approximately 90minutes of concerted effort and focus. It is important to take a 5-15min break every 90minutes allowing your mind a chance to recharge and your body a chance to move around rather than sitting in one place.

Going long periods of time without a break may also result in you heading down a rabbit hole of time-consuming focus on the unimportant things, without realizing you are on a path of less value.

Organising a dedicated brainstorm or review session with team members of what you are currently doing and where you can go, while ensuring that everything is aligned to the overall mission, strategies and goals is crucial. You will find it invaluable as not only does it provide a big picture check for you, but it also enables the team to develop greater cohesion in what the big picture looks like to everyone.

I have witnessed a few people using apps, such as rescue time, to monitor and track their use of time. It allows them to see how much time is spent on each daily activity and most importantly on the tasks that are making forward progress.

We are often caught up in our own assumptions, ways of thinking and complexity. Try challenge some of your assumptions to see what would happen if you removed one or more of them. Remember complexity is the enemy, so sometimes the most simple and obvious thing maybe blurred or hidden from our ability to see the big picture.

Identify whether you team have a connection to the big picture. Share the big picture regularly by providing the details first and then the context later. Ask them what they see and make sure that you connect the big picture to their work. Most importantly connect the big picture to meaning as people want to know that their working has a purpose.

Make sure that you include the activities that allow you to see clarity from a big picture point-of-view, in your daily or weekly routines. It is crucial that you are on the right road and haven’t taken the wrong left turn. To take it to the next level, it is even more valuable to ensure that you have time following your big picture activities, to find time to analyse and translate your insights into specific actions.

Life is all about choice. We may feel we are snowed under, constrained by deadlines and under the pump from either your boss or a client, but remember you are the one in control. Prioritise what is important, what you need to gain clarity and disregard the meaningless activities that halt your progress. What you do is only as good as the clarity of your big picture.


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