A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

13 January 2010

A Fresh Start

I would be remiss in my duty as a coach if I failed to address the whole "January" phenomenon. Ah, January -- the season of new year's resolutions, fresh starts, "new year new you" promotions, rampant dieting, and every gym in the country bursting at the seams for about three weeks. And the gym owners, Weight Watcher meeting leaders, and makers of nicotine gum going, "thank goodness this happens every year, and only once a year."

So, postulated that you are swept up in the excitement of resolutions, here are some thoughts on how to turn that temporary enthusiasm into a permanent improvement in your quality of life.

  1. There is no magic bullet. Really. We all wish fervently that there were such a thing as a free lunch, a diet pill that works, an "effortless" way to get the results we want. There isn't. Things that are worth having must be earned. Please, save yourself the disappointment of wasting money or time on "quick fixes" in your life or your business, and seek proven, sensible, trusted methods for achieving your goals.
  2. Show up. Remember what Woody Allen said: 80% of success is showing up. Mailing a check to the gym will not get you in shape. Nobody has ever learned to swim by reading a book. The most expensive, elegantly-bound strategic plan in the world does not lead to business success if it sits on the shelf and collects dust. Whatever you intend to do differently this year, do it. Talk is cheap.
  3. Choose to be held accountable. A gym membership is nice, but a personal trainer will hold you accountable. Leadership books are good; leadership coaches are better. Got a BHAG - a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal? Get a BHAG Buddy who also has one, and help each other reach them. (Thanks, Sue. :) ) Until you do the work, a new year's resolution is nothing but window dressing.
I have the good fortune to know, in addition to the world's greatest BHAG Buddy, a wide variety of consummate professionals in a range of fields who can help you achieve pretty much any goal you may have set for 2010. If you need:
  • A personal trainer
  • A financial planner
  • An accountant
  • An attorney
  • A virtual assistant
  • An advertising agency
  • A real estate professional
  • A nutritional counselor
  • A holistic health care provider
  • A graphic designer
... please contact me and I'll be glad to introduce you to one that I trust.

If I can help you in any way to achieve your 2010 goals, call me. There's no time like the present to start using more of what you have to get more of what you want.

Pick One, Please

Recently I was driving down the much-maligned Interstate 4, and I saw one of those trucks that is covered with information about a business. The name and nature of the business didn't really stick with me, but one particular bit of lettering really stood out. It said:

"We put quality, honesty and integrity first."

To which I responded, "huh?"

As I understand it, the word "first" refers to item number one. Last I checked, the gold medal is not given to the top three contestants -- only to the top one. So how can three things all be first?

"No, no," you say. "Clearly this business has these three values as its highest priorities, and they are all equal in importance." And I would agree that this was likely the intent of the framers of this particular statement.

But here's the thing -- what happens when you can't do all three at once?

Supposing the only way you could get the highest quality material available would be to purchase it from someone you knew was importing it illegally. Knowingly breaking the law while claiming to hold honesty as a core value would be dishonest, or at least out of integrity, right? But in order to maintain integrity and honesty, you'd have to settle for the second-best quality. When push comes to shove in business, only one value can reside in the top spot. As a business owner, you get to pick which one, but you can only pick one.

Have you reviewed your company's values lately? If not, check two things: first, check that your list of values is written down in order of priority. Second, do some exploring of the reality on the ground, and make sure it is consistent with your professed values. If you say you value honesty and the evidence suggests your employees don't trust each other, something is wrong. If you say you value good customer service and you get a lot of complaints, something is wrong. What values are evident in your work environment? How do they compare to the "words on the wall"? Anything need fixing?