It’s interesting how the older we get the less willing it seems many of us are to embrace change. At some point we start preferring to look backwards rather than forwards in terms of making sense of our life. The word “new” starts to lose its positive connotation. I’m not exactly sure why this happens but I see evidence of it in almost every conversation I have with one of my peers. Thank goodness there is always a younger generation behind us pushing the envelope in terms of what’s possible and could be better. At minimum, as a society we need the collective adaptive capacity to adjust to changing circumstances.
Month: December 2011
Every business leader should be able to make the case clearly and succinctly why their company is the preferred choice. You won’t always have alot of time to communicate your position. In fact, the more words you use, the less likely your audience will be able to remember your message. I’ve seen many talented executives and business owners stumble on this point. Sometimes the answer to a very simple question gets lost in muddled thinking or a genuine lack of understanding. A critical step in leadership success is to figure out why you should be in business in the first place.
As far as we know, there are no “do over’s” in life. We get one chance to live our journey and make things right. While death bed conversions and family reconciliations make good fodder forHollywood, they are rarer then you think. You can’t make up for lost time or misaligned priorities in one final conversation or the last few months of your life – the damage is already done. Personal grudges have an unfortunate way of becoming firmly cemented with time. There is no better time than the present to assess where you stand in terms of your family and personal life and make positive changes. As I’ve stated many times in other blogs, remorse and regret are useless and unnecessarily painful emotions.
What strikes me the most is how many organizations view planning as an event to get through rather than the impetus for an ongoing strategic dialogue that is critical to long term success. When it comes to planning, you are never done, just sharpening your focus and increasing your performance capability as you go along.
I don’t often write about spiritual or faith issues in my blog because for the most part I believe these are personal decisions. There are also many other people more capable and better equipped than me to address the issue. I’m comfortable in my own beliefs and hope you are in your own as well. However, I do feel strongly that there is a direct correlation between an individual’s belief structure and their level of happiness and capacity for resilience. Life is much more meaningful if you believe you are part of something bigger than yourself and there is a reason for being here beyond survival and personal comfort.
Whether we like it or not, “all things must pass.” Everything has a beginning and an end. As far as we know, nothing besides space is infinite. Youth, careers, relationships, roles, responsibilities, health, and ultimately life itself, all transition and ultimately conclude at some point.
Not every audience is ready to hear what you have to say but say it anyway if you believe in your message. Sometimes a little resistance is good. It forces you to work on your delivery and thought process. It also means you may be challenging conventional wisdom and forcing people to get outside of their comfort zone. A leader’s job is not to make everyone happy or validate individual misconceptions but rather to put a spotlight on the truth as he/she sees it. Conflict and misunderstanding are part of life, but when managed properly they can lead to deeper agreement, greater commitment and better results. Never fall into the trap of telling people what they want to hear unless it also aligns with what they need to hear.
A life is built one day at a time. We literally live moment to moment. As you stitch together the moments of your day keep this in mind. I’m not saying this to put pressure on you, but rather to alleviate it. There are few things more stressful than trying to make up for lost time and/or missed opportunity. We don’t control how much time we have, however we have absolute control over how we spend it. Approach each day like it matters because it does!
As a verbal person I don’t have issues with talking. However, I do find myself rambling on at times and taking the long way around to making my point and/or connecting the dots. I do my best to remember some advice I received from a mentor many years ago that when communicating with others in a professional setting “less is more.” These days people have very short attention spans. Most of us are literally bombarded with communication all day long. It’s hard to keep everything straight and know when to pay attention. Sometimes it feels easier just block out whatever doesn’t resonate quickly.
As a boy growing up pretty much all my public role models were the strong silent types. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen were all men of few words but vigorous action. Men didn’t show their feelings; they just dealt with whatever came their way in the most expeditious fashion. Problems were meant to be solved not fretted over. Real men weren’t vulnerable. They were strong for all of those around them and kept their feelings to themselves. My dad very much lived up to this expectation. I can’t remember even one example of him telling me how he “felt” about something. He just did what he was supposed to do and that was that.
Change for the sake of change is never advisable. All change should be rooted in some obvious reality that requires a shift in the status quo. When you have something that is working stick with it. This doesn’t mean you run it to the ground, but also doesn’t mean you abandon it too soon either. In general, there are usually more things that are right rather than wrong with an organization unless of course it’s a crisis situation. There should be many positives you can lean on and leverage for both short and long term benefit.
What is the one thing that if it changed would make all the difference in your home or work life? What have you been avoiding because it is too hard to address or you’ve been distracted by other issues? Where are you most vulnerable or unhappy? If you narrow your focus on this one issue as best you can and actually deal with it, positive change will begin to happen. It just sometimes takes courage and the willingness to be truly honest, thoughtful and self-reflective.
Talk is cheap. As a sports fan it’s amazing to watch how many individuals talk a big game and then don’t deliver. In life, business or sports it’s better to let your actions do your talking. I’m always surprised by players or coaches who draw unnecessary attention to themselves or their teams and literally motivate the opposition through what they say. Winning games at a professional level is hard enough without putting a bull’s-eye on your back. When you put yourself on a pedestal all you do is encourage other people to want to knock you off it.
I’ve always believed that life rewards focus and persistence. If you keep working at something you will eventually make progress. What you have to be careful about is managing your expectations. You also need to take responsibility for the outcome(s) you want and not expect someone else to create the reality you want. Happiness is no exception. Happy people work at being happy and start with themselves first. They have to deal with unhappy moments like everyone else, but have trained themselves to practice acceptance rather than resistance and have fine tuned their own capacity to muddle through and make positive changes.
I wish I could tell my clients and colleagues that the best company always wins but that isn’t the case. Over the years I’ve met quite a few leaders who think that doing a good job should be sufficient for success and that money spent on adverstising and marketing is purely discretionary. However, it’s not enough be good at something. People need to know you exist and have to be reminded why you are the preferable option. Sure, you can try to grow your business through word of mouth referrals but this strategy only has a chance if you have low growth objectives and/or your prospective client base is relatively small and/or there is minimal competitive pressure.
70 years ago today our country was attacked at Pearl Harbor and the world was never the same. America, which hadn’t been subject to another country attacking our territory since The War of 1812, had to deal the terrible wave of war that would end up sweeping the globe and literally becoming a world war. While our political and military leaders had tried to prepare for this inevitability, we were still caught off guard and it took us about 2 years to get our footing and begin to turn the battle to our favor. We had to significantly scale up our industrial military industrial capacity and recruit millions of soldiers to sign up and join the fight which was taking places in multiple locations throughout the world. If you think about what was accomplished logistically in a relatively short period of time, it is quite impressive. Thank goodness we were up to the challenge.
I often think many of us are under the misconception that life is supposed to be easier than it is. The “grass is greener” syndrome abounds and we believe that things should always be better than they are rather than counting our blessing and accepting what we have. It’s almost as if we strive to live in aHollywood movie where we are always the protagonist of the story, everything has a happy ending, all of our material needs are easily met, all major conflicts are quickly resolved and the perfect relationship is just around the corner. Well, this is fantasyland not reality.
Very rarely do traumatic events just come out of the blue for no reason. Usually there have been some lingering symptoms that tried to get your attention, but you were too busy, distracted, or just didn’t want to address the issue. The problem is that avoidance never works and at some point you will have to deal with the consequences of your inaction. Sadly, many people ignore important health signs and end up with a much worse outcome as a result. Your body just like your business is always trying to communicate with you and let you know when things aren’t quite right.
2009-2011 has been a difficult period for many people I know and care about. It’s almost as if the heavens opened up and terrible storm decided to descend on a vast number of unsuspecting people. In many cases, the signs may have been there, but none of us expected the difficulty it to be so prolonged and discouraging. They say “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.” I’m not sure I agree with this point of view. Not every challenge leads to strength; sometimes it just forces us to alter our perspective. Change doesn’t always mean growth or better, it often just means different. In addition, certain wounds don’t always heal as we would like them to, but they heal nonetheless – time will see to this.
Bottom line is that to be successful in business you need still to be willing to take risk and make strategic investments. Simply following and succumbing to market norms is for losers. Industries and markets are often too slow to react to significant events/trends and take far too long to recover. Business rewards those leaders who are proactive about their destiny and make the conscious decision to lead rather than follow. Be different, it pays off in the long run.