“Pay more attention to what losers do wrong than to what winners do right.” Really?
If you read Stop Playing In The Kiddie Pool the other day, you got a harsh introduction into running your business. You need to be SERIOUS, COMMITTED, & FEARLESS in yourself and your business. This is a 'Part Two' to that article. When people run a race or push themselves when they exercise, they tend to hit a physical and mental wall that tells them to stop running or exercising. They're too tired, they are over-taxing their body, or they might be close to passing out.
Physically, that might be true — there are many tell-tale signs (heart rate, breathing, etc.) that will tell you you're getting close. What's funny is that your brain usually takes over and tells you way before that you should stop. In fact, your body can go a lot longer than you think — check out this podcast — it opened my eyes!
When it comes to business and your mental state — many of us tend to give up when the going gets tough or when things get out of focus and we're afraid to make the next decision.
We are afraid to make a tough decision, spend money, hire a service — we get paralyzed. And we make no decision. We tell ourselves, "No decision is better than a bad decision." Unfortunately, that's not true.
Let's look at my simple decision matrix:
- Make the decision and it's good - Congratulations! Now make another. And another.
- Make the decision and it's totally wrong - Too bad! Now turn around and move in the other direction.
- Make the decision and it's partly wrong - You're going in the right direction, just recalibrate your angle.
In all three situations, you have to make a decision. In today's business world, no decision, no movement, and no action is bad for your business. Doing the same thing, the same way, with the same resources and moving nowhere is a prescription for failure. Someone else is going to come along and do it better, faster, and cheaper.
In the Welcome Packet I send to new clients, on the cover I have one of my quotes: “If you’re not continually reinventing yourself, your company, or your brand, it’s only a matter of time before you become obsolete, irrelevant, and end up in the bargain bin.”
So hire that new person, engage with that branding firm, move to a bigger office, or take out that needed business loan. Big businesses become big by taking chances and trusting their instincts.
As Walt Disney said so many years ago, “Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Keep moving forward.
Many people today feel they are just 'one bad decision away' from losing their job or business. So instead of making decisions, they make NO decision. Or if they have to make a decision, they take the least offensive, least impactful, least expensive, and most spineless way out. Most of the time, that's the wrong thing to do.
What happens? You ensure management is happy while you infuriate your staff, vendors, and smart clients.
Who thinks big and takes chances? Apple.
- In 1998 — they launched the iMac without a floppy disk drive ("How will we transfer files?).
- In 2007 — they launched the iPhone - no experience (joining the fray with huge, entrenched leaders).
- In 2010 — they launched the MacBook Air without a DVD drive ("How will I watch movies?").
- In 2016 — they launched a new MacBook Pro with 4 USB-C ports ("How will I connect my stuff?).
Each time the media made fun of them and pundits attacked. One year later, everyone embraced the change and moved forward. The result? One of the biggest companies on the planet with a product line admired by all.
To move up and to be noticed by the people that matter, you need to be bold and sometimes stick your neck out. You might hit a home run (most of the time) and sometimes, you might get it cut off (rarely).
That's why I suggest to my clients that they all have INSURANCE. For example:
- An up-to-date résumé, done by a professional, ready to be distributed at a moment's notice.
- A polished and professional LinkedIn page, with recent professional headshot, testimonials, etc.
- Actively networking and connecting with movers and shakers outside of your sphere.
- Learning new things about your industry, taking classes, reading books and writing about what you learn.
- Attending events (industry symposiums, charities, etc.).
- Finally, hire a coach — they help you perform at your peak and help you make the tough decisions.
Once you have those things in your back pocket, it's not that hard to make the tough decisions that need to be made.
Here's a powerful scene with John Goodman (it's a bit rough with the language — but you'll get the gist):
I had a great session with one of my favorite clients the other day. We covered an area on making decisions and I brought up a way I teach people to think about their careers and owners to think about their businesses. There are three ways to make decisions in business:
- Sure Things - These are the easy decisions we make that take little or no thought. They're easy to quantify, foresee, and usually called 'no-brainers'.
- Calculated Risk - A little more work is involved here — we need to weigh many options and outcomes. Many things are measured and tracked along the way to ensure that we don't fall flat on our face. This is the biggest slice of the pie - from easy risk calculation to highly complex analysis.
- Hail Mary's - Not so much a blind throw into the end zone, but there is the reality that this is a decision into the unknown. You can just measure so much and have to rely on gut feel in your industry or marketplace.
Successful executives and business owners tap into all three decision states frequently. If I had to hazard a guess, the typical business/executive builds their decision base with 20-30% Sure Thing, 60-70% Calculated Risk, and 10-20% Hail Mary.
Many things in business were Hail Mary's — the iPhone, Tesla, Amazon, etc. Most startups are highly analyzed calculated risks but they start out as a Hail Mary — 'let's try it' or 'it can't hurt' are frequently mentioned. Venturing into unknown territories where you're not comfortable is not only healthy, but required for many businesses to grow and mature.
Opening up a second location, hiring your first employee, pitching that premier client, spending big bucks on your website/SEO/PPC are just a few areas where we tend to feel quite nervous when we're pushing the envelope. You should feel anxiety in your gut when you make these decisions. That's why they're Hail Mary's — you're throwing it as far as you can subtly hoping for someone to catch it.
Sometimes we make Hail Mary decisions when our back is against the wall — and sometimes it's too late. It's better to regularly make Hail Mary decisions 2-3 times a year to stretch your company, yourself, and your people.
Did something scare you today? This week? This year? What really scares you? An angry boss? A lost client? A problem without a solution? Zombies?
And more importantly, what does your fear make you do? Do you shut down? Make quick decisions without thinking?
When you're scared, you make emotional decisions. Sometimes they are rational and sometimes they are irrational. Sometimes these decisions turn into irrational actions.
For example, did you ever blow up over something that turned out to be quite inconsequential? I tend to 'lose it' on myself when I accidentally drop something when cooking in the kitchen. In retrospect, it was an accident, I didn't plan for it, and I mistakenly dropped a dish of food. But I still 'lost it' on myself. I wasn't scared, but I still acted irrationally.
It happens to the best of us. I help my clients look at their lives as a huge long line or spectrum with being 'totally in-control' at one end and 'totally out-of-control' at the other end. Most of the time, when we're scared, we tend to feel that we have moved from the safe, in-control extreme to the perilous out-of-control extreme.
But that's not true. We've just moved a little bit on our control line. Here's a little secret: We're never really totally in-control either. Someone or some thing, somewhere has a bit of control over us or has the ability to careen us out-of-control. For example, our health, our kids, our spouse/partner, work, finances, etc. all can quickly have an immediate impact on our control system.
The faster you realize you are never in complete control AND that you are never in complete chaos, the faster you will move from being scared to a more meditative sense of reality. Realize that we spend our lives moving along this 'control' line without fear — we're just trying to get things done, we hit a road-block, and we solve that problem and move on.
Here are some rules I adhere to:
1. You are not at the far (deep) end of the out-of-control line. You've moved a bit out of control, don't be scared, and realize a small action can bring you back in control quickly. Don't stay in one place and begin to emotionalize your reaction. Worrying about what might happen will never really help you — you need to think rationally about your options and take action.
2. Take one small step. One micro-task which will allow you to start moving in the right direction and begin to feel better about your situation. Again, if you do nothing, you'll go nowhere. Even if you move backwards, at least you're moving — you can always course correct.
3. "Action expresses priorities." - Gandhi. Once you take action — any action — you will begin to stop worrying/being scared and start to make further decisions to help you get back into a control situation. Movement or action begins to eliminate most worry and fear. Get out of that haunted house ASAP!
Let me know how this works — the last thing I want you doing is spending a beautiful spring, scared, full of fear and stranded in worry. Life is SO much better than that.
Good To Great. An incredible book by Jim Collins — relates how certain companies overcame their obstacles and pushed themselves from being just good companies to the stars of their industry. How they made the leap, what they did, and what they didn't do. How can you make the leadership leap with your team and go from just being a good leader (and that isn't bad at all) to a great leader? Here are some basic qualities most leaders use and how to kick each one up a notch to great:
“Love your family, work super hard, live your passion.” - Gary Vaynerchuk, from Crush It! Great words from Gary in one of my favorite books (I require all of my clients to read). He is spot on with this one.
See how he constructs the quote — Family — Work — Passion. Not the other way around.
Unfortunately, many of the C-Level clients I coach work it the other way and find they're not happy, they have a shitty marriage, they never see their kids or their kids hate them, and their only passion in life is putting in mucho hours on the job. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Yes — you've got the three M's — Money, Mansion, Mercedes (or Maserati) — but deep down, you're not happy. Something is missing and time is running out.
So here goes — you can have all three — it's just how you look at them AND how you prioritize them. I am currently working with the CEO/Owner of a top engineering firm and we're currently spinning the sequence around to help him enjoy the benefits of his labor. He's built the organization from the ground up and now it's time to enjoy life!
NUMBER ONE RULE — Family Comes First. No exceptions.
I'm not saying to fill up your calendar with family-oriented activities and let work suffer. Within reason, try to start your workweek by making time for your wife/partner, kids, friends, etc. If there is a baseball game, a romantic dinner, a morning run, hiking at the park — make sure it is recorded and blocked off on your calendar FIRST.
Again, within reason — I understand you work for a living. But taking a vacation day once in awhile is fine, even encouraged. Leave work early to catch your son's or daughter's soccer game. Come in late because you took your family to an early breakfast at your favorite diner. You know, the one where you all sit together with no TV, no smartphones and just eat and talk.
ACTION: Get your assistant in your office right now and start blocking off your calendar. TODAY.
NUMBER TWO RULE — Work Super Hard. But work smart.
I know you work hard. That's how you got to your position in the first place. But what got you to the captain's chair probably won't help you stay happy there. You worked hard, put in the thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears. You made all the right decisions (and a few stinkers). You made the right connections with the right people. YOU HUSTLED.
Now it's time to sit in the captain's chair and start delegating even more. Don't act like Captain Kirk and accompany the away team on every mission, stay on-board the Enterprise and direct your resources in strategic ways. What got you here isn't going to keep you here for very long without compromising your home life, your happiness, and your health. You're not getting any younger either.
ACTION: Look at all your meetings and start culling them down by 10%. Stop reading every email/text that comes in. Have your assistant monitor your information flow and decide what get priority. They're the gatekeeper — ensure they guard the gate.
Cut down on one-on-ones with everyone — start to develop a sharper pyramid reporting structure with very few people touching you (no more than 5-7) Remember the Godfather? He had three direct reports — his Consigliere (who died - morte), and two Capos — Clemenza and Tessio. That's it.
NUMBER THREE RULE — Live Your Passion. But find what your REAL passion is.
Too many C-Level executives hit the big show and start to abuse the passion that got them there. They forget the fun, innovation, excitement and give in to boredom, politics, and hitting the targets for their buddies on the board. The world becomes pedantic and the passion flows out of them.
They try to make safe decisions and safe moves, and impact their business, their organization, and their customers. They prioritize their bonus, their safety, and their reputation over what's really important. I know it's hard, but sometimes you have to sacrifice the temporary pleasures to fully engage with what really matters. It's not all money (and if you believe it is - READ THIS - another mandatory book I recommend to C-Level clients).
ACTION: Sit down and assess what your real passions are right at this moment. What gets your motor running? What gets you excited about life? What motivates you to do GREAT work? You need to re-establish a connection with your passion and make sure you fill up your enthusiasm gas tank every day.
Are you crushing it every day?
"No excuses. Make it happen." - Rich Gee
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I run Multi-Generational Peer Review Groups — and boy do we have fun discussing many issues inherent with family businesses — especially ones where the younger sons/daughters work for the older parents. And the parents have one foot out the door into retirement, yet they feel they need to keep active and still make decisions. Or they are still working 60-70 hours a week and never delegate key responsibilities to their sons/daughters.
Candidly, it hard to get things done. Of course, some things are easy, but many of them are quite difficult. We are always looking for ways to do things better, faster, and with less worry and work. Years ago, I came upon one of the most simple and powerful quotes I've ever read. It's from Mohandas Gandhi, who in his 78 years of life, gave us so many great quotes (and his actions too!).
"Action Expresses Priorities."
That's it. That's MY secret to getting things done.
Think about it — All of your actions, all the things you do, all the things you deliver — set your priorities. Once you take action, you instantly decide what you want to do first. Why? People tend to act upon those things that have meaning to them.
But I think it's deeper than that. I think when you don't know what to do, you need to just take action anywhere and suddenly certain things will start to fall into place.
But that's the problem today — we don't take action. We're afraid to — we procrastinate, over-analyze, and postpone because we are sometimes afraid of action.
Because action will ensure we have to make a decision — we have to do something that is sometimes hard, or we will have to deal with the results of that action.
But what we don't realize is that action moves us forward. It propels us . . . it forces us to rocket faster and faster. And sometimes we are afraid of that.
So ask yourself:
- How can I take action today?
- What should I do first? Second? Third?
- What should I stop doing?
So the next time you are putting off something — a decision, a task, a phone-call — just think "Action Expresses Priorities".
Are people thinking and making decisions faster than you? It might be you . . . or them.
Finding it harder and harder to make decisions lately? Decisions or the lack of them are responsible for the breaking or making of many a career. With the craziness of the economy mixed with the bi-polar swings of board decisions, one finds it harder and harder to make a 'comfortable' decision.
“I don’t know what to do.”“I’m stuck, which way should I turn?” “ I’m procrastinating because I don’t know what will happen.”
This happens all the time to everyone at their workplace. EVERYONE.
Unfortunately, most people are paranoid of everything falling apart or failing IF they make a critical decision.
Yesterday, I wrote all about smart leaders in corporate and business change the game every 2-3 years. Today, I promised you HOW they do it. In the movie Fight Club (a male perennial favorite like ‘The Godfather’), the lead character works for an auto company and spouts out a formula they use for deciding whether to recall a model of their car or just let it go on killing people:
It's funny. So many things happen in life that make us wonder, "Why did they do that?" "Why did they go with the other candidate?" "Why am I not getting that promotion?" "Why did I get laid off?"