If you’re not going to put in the work, don’t bother showing up.
The Spartan principles that push people over the finish line at races are the same core values I look for in my employees. As a business leader, I seek out people with unrelenting grit, unwavering perseverance, and just the right amount of insanity.
And I’d wager that other high-performing managers have similar expectations. If you don’t have what it takes to do the job—and aren’t willing to learn—you might as well get out of the way. If you don’t, I’ll move you.
Here are five things that will make me fire you immediately.
1. You’re afraid to fail
Cowards need not apply. I surround myself with people who relentlessly seek new challenges and are turned on by taking risks.
The concept of learning how to “fail well” encouraged young Spartans to develop critical skills of resilience and self-determination. At Spartan headquarters, our compensation package won’t give you grit. You have to earn it—by pushing, failing, and bouncing back.
When employees don’t fail, I assume they’re playing it safe. They’re scared to think big, speak up, and stand by their ideas. If that’s the case, I have no use for you.
Fall down. Break some skin. Then get up and keep going.
2. You’re always checking the rear-view mirror
Underachievers are paralyzed by the past, and are constantly worrying about the competition. Business rule #417: You can’t lead by looking over your shoulder. Eventually, you’re going to hit a tree.
I’m not alone—CEOs look for people who obsess over opportunities, not obstacles. Sure, I want my employees to learn from their experiences, but also to make a clean break. What’s done is done. Learn from failure and move on.
My favorite movie character, Rocky, lost to Apollo in the first fight. We all know what happened next.
3. You’ve stopped learning
If your leader is effectively communicating steps needed to succeed, and you’re ignoring them, you’re basically firing yourself. Cause of death: suicide by corporate incompetence.
I understand everyone isn’t born with an inferno-like desire to be successful. But I expect my employees to consistently work toward their personal and professional goals.
If you think you’re a finished product, you won’t last long.
4. There’s a dark cloud over your head
I banned soda at Spartan HQ. I don’t stand for toxic substances, and that includes employees. They quickly poison a workplace with constant negativity and poor attitudes.
Toxic employees complain, criticize, lack empathy, never offer praise, and take credit for other people’s work. Those people don’t last long around here.
If you’re always saying “I hate Mondays” and just working for the weekend, I guarantee you’ll be spending lots of time looking for jobs.
5. You only give 100 percent
I’m a fitness-obsessed workaholic. I don’t expect my employees to compete in a Spartan race every weekend or take work-related calls at 2 a.m., but I do expect them to go above and beyond when it matters.
Listen, I’m not an asshole. Go ahead, take a long lunch. Fine, spend two hours shopping Esty on a slow Thursday afternoon. I don’t track hours. I track results.
To that end, I expect my people to be all over every problem—and working on solutions—long before I hear of it. If that means pulling an all-nighter, that’s my expectation.
Truth be told—I don’t want to fire you. No one wants to fire you. So do more, be better, work harder. You’ll be indispensable wherever you are.