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Lesson #2: Success Comes From Pursuing A Single-Purpose Goal
Despite not having a dream or envisioning the possibilities of the luxury hotel chain he has created today, when Sharp first got started in the industry, he did in fact began with one clear goal. The very first decision he made in the business was, he says, to establish a single-purpose; wherever he set up shop, Sharp was going to create the best hotel he knew how to.
“We set out to redefine luxury as service, and to provide a support system at our hotels to replace the one left behind at home or at the office,” says Sharp. It was to this end, to the goal of being the best, that Sharp began upgrading his hotels to Five Star standards. He installed the quietest plumbing systems he could find, the softest towels, and – for the first time in a hotel – shampoos in their bathrooms. Over time, Sharp also began accommodating business requests in his rooms. From installing two-line jacks for both phone and computer work, to having well-lit desks, and other amenities such as irons, bathrooms, and a free shoeshine service, Sharp was making sure all his bases were covered.
When Sharp first started to expand his hotel chain, he knew that there were other bigger competitors out there. Nevertheless, Sharp paid no attention. The goal he had established at the very beginning of his career was not to be the biggest and the best hotel in operation; it was simply to be the best. Thus, Sharp focused on operating medium-sized hotels of the highest possible quality.
Having a single goal at the heart of his operations was not a tactic Sharp limited just to his business. In 1978, Sharp’s 17 year old son Christopher died of melanoma cancer. It was a devastating blow to the Sharp family. So, when Sharp first caught sight of 21 year old Terry Fox on TV as he began his cross-country run to raise money and awareness for the disease, Sharp knew this was his chance to take action.
Not only did Sharp pledge money and offer free night’s lodging to the Marathon of Hope team at Four Seasons hotels, but he also developed a close relationship with the young runner himself who would often call Sharp from roadside phone booths along his way. “No one seemed to be taking him seriously,” recalls Sharp. “I mean, a kid with one leg, running all the way across Canada? It seemed to far-fetched. People were cutting him off with their cars on the highway.”
When Fox’s cancer returned and the marathon was cut short in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Sharp knew he had to take action. Fox’s goal had been to raise a dollar from every Canadian, or what would amount to roughly $25 million. Sharp took up that goal, and by promoting the event into what has become an annual worldwide phenomenon, Sharp has been able to raise over $400 million for the cause. That is what can happen when the mind is focused on and dedicated to a single goal.
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