Meaningful, Fulfilling Work

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Good: Your Good Work, Sweetspot, What=Compelling Focus
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What does it take to have meaningful, fulfilling work?

Many experts say you must know and follow your passion. Yes. Passion is important. But, as you probably suspect, it is not enough.

Here’s what you really need. Your ideal work must

  • Use your Talents What are you really good at?
  • Engage your Passions What drives, motivates, or excites you?
  • Meet your needs, wants, and desires. What do you need in order to feel good, whole?
  • Contribute to satisfying other people’s needs, wants, and desires that you find interesting.

The intersection of these four areas is called your SweetSpot™. When you work in your SweetSpot, you have the meaning, clarity, and impact you want. When you are outside your SweetSpot, you struggle more.

How close are you to your SweetSpot? How close do you want to be?

 

To your continued success,

Mike

P.S. Organizations have SweetSpots, too.  How close is your organization to its SweetSpot?

Politics is a Symptom

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Organizations, Success, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
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Where you see politics in your workplace, resist the temptation to blame your co-workers. Yes, there are some people who are naturally very political. They foster power struggles, intrigues, backstabbing, and information/asset hoarding. But most of the politics you see at work are symptoms of larger problems. These problems are

  1. a lack of a clear, commonly understood, and compelling direction,
  2. a lack of win-win relationships throughout the organization based on trust, clarity of roles, and accountability,
  3. a lack of effective habits of execution, and
  4. a lack of leadership habits and tools to create the 1-3 above.

If your organization shows symptoms of politics, which of these 4 areas do you have the most influence over right now? Let’s start there.

 

To your continued success,

 

Mike

The Four Lenses of Success

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Strategy, Success, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

Success for you or your organization is simple. You need only look through four lenses described below to see where you have trouble and where you can focus. These lenses act as both a road map to success and a diagnostic.

Lens What’s needed for success Signs of trouble
What A clear, complete, common, and compelling goal. (Because success is always an outcome.) Fuzzy, incomplete, competing, or uncompelling, goals.
We Win-win relationships with all who matter. (Because you can never do it alone.) Tension, politics, lose-win, or win-lose with any who matter.
Can Higher-“buzz” thinking, beliefs, attitude that support you, your organization, your goals. (Because your thinking creates your world.) Lower “buzz” thinking, beliefs, attitude that detract.
Do An easy flow of action to get things done. (Because success is always an outcome.) Pushing, avoiding, lack of results, drained energy.

 

Every one of these daily notes/posts addresses something in one or more of the lenses. Notes about The Effectiveness Habits, for instance, are mostly about the “Do” lens.  Look for more to come from all four of the lenses.

Meanwhile, try using the above table as a diagnostic. For someone or some organization you know, apply theses lenses to their situation. Can you see where they are well focused (if at all) and where they may be having trouble (if at all)?

Effectiveness Habit #5: Know Why

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Strategy, Success, Sweetspot, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

The weight of all your tasks can wear you down. Build resilience and feel good with today’s habit:

Effectiveness Habit #5: Know Why

It’s all too easy to get lost and disheartened in the day-to-day. When we do, we’ve lost sight of what we’re really shooting for and why.

Knowing the big picture and knowing why that big picture is compelling takes away the drudgery and leaves meaning, focus, and fit. It’s exciting to know that what we’re doing contributes. It helps us navigate the quotidian. And we all want to know how we fit into the bigger picture.

To use this habit,

  1. Write down a list of the key accountabilities (3-5 sentences answering, “What results will tell me I’ve done my job well?”) for your main work role.
  2. Write down a list of your and your organization’s goals, objectives, core and aspirational values, and mission.
  3. Review these at least monthly. More often is better. Recall the intent and more importantly the feeling of the intent of these big picture items.
  4. Maintain these lists over time.

(If you don’t have your key accountabilities or your goals, objectives, values, or mission, I suggest you build them ASAP. Drop me a line for some tips.)

Next time you find yourself struggling in the minutiae of your work, remember to come back to these lists and know why what you’re doing makes sense. And if what you’re doing does not make sense for the big picture, consider carefully why you are doing that.

5 Easy Pieces of Career or Corporate Strategy

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Leading, Organizations, Success, What=Compelling Focus
Reading time: 2 min.

Strategy exercises–whether for your career or your organization–often fail because they are incomplete. They scratch the itch we all get to have our daily work align with something important but they often don’t fix the problem.  Some fail because they are incomplete in concept; they don’t cover enough ground nor include important perspectives. Others fail because the process is incomplete. They usually ignore the important implementation, follow up, and–most important–course correction steps. And others fail because they try to do too much or too little.

What you really need to do:

  1. Set the scope. How big is your focus? How far out in time? How will you know you’re done?
  2. Start with constructive perspectives. This includes having the right people involved and trusting your own knowledge about your talents, passions, and needs. And it includes solid information about who you might serve.
  3. Clear process. Know before your start the major steps and how you’ll complete them. If working with others, agree on ground rules like the definition of consensus.
  4. Facilitation to focus thinking, maintain momentum. Have someone with a neutral agenda help you think through and avoid the mental, emotional, and political traps.
  5. Execute, Track, and Course Correct. Follow through. It’s so important to commit to the follow-through work as part of building your strategy. Career and corporate strategies succeed when there are simple plans, processes, and ways follow up and adjust course without losing the dream as time passes and things change.

Invest in these 5 pieces and they will pay off handsomely for you and your organization.

Want some help with your career or business strategy? Happy to help.

What if you decided what success is?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Good: Your Good Work, Leading, Success, Sweetspot, What=Compelling Focus
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If you look at it–really look at it–success for your life, career, or organization has to be what you say it is. Others do influence that definition because your success always includes the success of others. But you get to choose where you’ll focus, with whom, and for whom.

Find and follow your definition of success, this moment and then the next.

Why selecting a niche is so dang hard and what you really need to do

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Success, Sweetspot, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.
A friend recently asked, “When you were starting did you have any difficulty pinpointing your niche?” Here’s how I answered:

Selecting a niche is difficult.

Yes, I’ve had difficulty pinpointing my niche. And I’ve been through many niches: I thought I wanted my niche to be leaders in IT (because of my background), small business (because I thought I didn’t have the experience/cred to coach in large businesses), teams (because I liked and still like coaching teams), mid-career professionals looking to change careers, sales and marketing VPs, …
I stumbled by staying too broad and feared narrowing my focus. If I narrow my niche, aren’t I cutting off potential clients and limiting my income?
I’ve also worried that selecting one niche would set me up for disappointment. What if I chose the wrong niche, dedicated a bunch of time and energy to it then discovered that there’s a better niche out there for me? Or what if I found something that I really like but couldn’t do or failed at? That would be crushing.

What you really need to do

Of course, I mentor/coach/teach others that
  • selecting a niche lets you go deep and, paradoxically, increases your marketplace because more people are attracted to your understanding of them and the depth of your offer.
  • you need not pick one niche for now and evermore. In fact, there’s no way of knowing that what you choose now is what you’ll stick with.
  • you can pick something now, start working it, learn along the way (which I have done), and adjust your focus/niche later based on what you know then that you can’t know now.
  • your best guide is your feelings, not your intellect. Though your intellect helps tremendously, going with what feels good is always best. The SweetSpot process I described to you is a way to get to those feelings and use your intellect for all its worth, too.
  • others will respond very well to you when you really feel plugged into your SweetSpot/niche.
When I applied this teaching to myself, I saw that my niche is helping others (individuals and organizations) find then succeed in their niche. Odd, huh?

Get the Why Right

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Sweetspot, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus
Reading time: 3 min.

Imagine you’re in a senior management meeting. Brenda, the CEO, starts by reviewing the current financial numbers then kicking off this discussion.

Brenda: “We are struggling to make a profit here. It’s getting serious. What should we do?”

Betty: “We have to do more marketing. No one knows who we are and every sale is a struggle.”

Bob: “No, what we really need is a better processes and execution. We can’t get out of our own way. We are wasting way too much of every dollar we earn on random acts of madness.”

Betty: “I disagree. Our inflow of new clients has slowed to a trickle. Let’s not focus on re-arranging the deck chairs.”

Bob: “With all due respect, Betty, we are way too inefficient at what we do. Any new investments in marketing or anything else will just dig us deeper into the hole.”

Betty: “Brenda, clearly you see my point. We can’t keep starving our sales this way.”

Brenda: “I think the real problem is…”

What do you think Brenda should say next? Here are four things she could say, from least to most effective.

“You’re right, Betty {or Bob}. Let’s focus on marketing {or processes and execution}.” Least Effective Brenda needs everyone’s help. Taking sides, even if she really believes one answer is better, will bring bad feelings, apathy, or a withdrawal of support and good ideas from the person with other idea.
“I don’t like to hear you fighting about this. Maybe we need a team-building session.” Somewhat Effective Brenda needs to lead the organization toward more success, including solving the financial current financial crunch. Team building, trust, openness, and good communication are essential. And a team-building exercise may make sense as part of a broader strategy to move the organization out of the hole it’s in.
“I think you’re both right. Let’s improve both marketing and our processes.” Effective with Hidden Risk Brenda, again, must focus on the bigger prize. Here she’s falling into the trap of creating win-win amongst her team member at the expense of greater win for all. She may be sub-optimizing. How do we know that improving “both marketing and our processes” is the best possible strategy?
“Thank you, both. These are good points. Let’s consider what we want right now as an organization and why.  What goal do both of your suggestions have in common? And what else might we need to do?” Most Effective Brenda knows the goal of leadership: inspiring people to a common, compelling goal. She sets aside her initial judgement about the right tactics in favor of building with the team a common cause.  From here, the team can brainstorm, plan, and act in concert towards success.

The ultimate success rule here is, “Let’s agree on why then we can agree on what.”