Don’t Look Back

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 1

The sages tell us that all our power is in the present. Any time we spend regretting, blaming, or trying to figure out stuff in the past will more likely distract us than help us. Don’t worry about repeating mistakes. We’ve already learned what we could.

Set it aside. The future’s calling.

 

In your corner,

Mike

photo credit: Octubres rotos Wild via photopin (license)

Give Yourself These Important Gifts 

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized
Reading time: 2 min.

Running around, overwhelmed, and (truth be told) only just keeping it together probably isn’t what we signed up for. But it is not necessary to be like this to be successful. We can be effective leaders (with or without title) and be mostly at ease.

Impossible, you say? But it is so!

We can become leaders at ease by giving ourselves the gifts of planning, presence, and persistence.

The gift of planning is dedicated daily and weekly time to gather all we could do and select what we will do. Instead of diving headlong and stressed into our days and weeks, we give ourselves the gift of clearing the decks and thinking through things.

The gift of presence is catching ourselves when we are regretting the past or worrying about the future and giving ourselves a deep breath and self-assurance that this will work out perfectly well.

The gift of persistence is simply committing to be this type of leader at ease. Here we give ourselves the discipline and focus we need to get good at planning and presence.

Yes; you have these gifts to give.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Like the well-mannered people we are, we will of course gratefully accept these gifts we give ourselves.
Today’s photo credit: Lorenzo cc

planning

Proper Use of Planning

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 1

Planning fails when we use it to control the future. Seeking to control the future comes from a distrust or fear about it. And it can’t be done.

Planning works when we use it to prepare for the future. Anticipating a desired future with quiet excitement and taking sensible preceding steps are great ways to prepare for the future.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Mufidah Kassalias cc

concrete

Why Concrete Goals are Better than Specific Goals

Posted Leave a commentPosted in What=Compelling Focus
Reading time: 2 min.

They tell us that we should set goals that are specific. But if we shoot for ‘specific’, we may end up with ‘detailed’.

And detailed goals aren’t helpful.

They tempt us to plan and manage every aspect along the way to the goals. Such a focus blinds us to innovation, better ways, and serendipity.

Here is an example of detailed goals: “We will be the number one retailer in the spaces in which we compete. We will have a 10 point increase in same-store sales with a 3 point increase in EBITDA, and a doubling of price-to-earnings. We will achieve this with efficiencies realized from completing last year’s merger, the rollout of 3 new product lines, a refresh of the store designs, a implementation of the online customer care system, a restructuring of short-term debt …” Etc. Ugh.

Far better to set clear, concrete, compelling goals that describe the results we ultimately want to see. Clear, concrete, compelling goals inspire and release everyone to apply their talents, creativity, and caring.

Here is an example of clear, concrete, compelling goals: “In two years, twice as many people will choose to do their shopping with us. 9 out of 10 clients will shop with us at least monthly. Our employees will be half as likely to leave. And we will be twice as profitable with no more than a 25 percent increase in debt.”

No details. Not a word about “how.” Just clear, concrete, and compelling desired results

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Read Jim Collins’ book Good to Great for more ideas about concrete, compelling goals.

PPS: Yes, there is room for planning with these concrete, compelling goals. The plans aren’t baked into the goals, though. They are left to the teams to figure out.

PPPS: This approach requires leaders to coach their teams with questions like, “What are all the things we can do to hit these goals? What obstacles can we anticipate? Who can help us and who can we help with their part of this?”

 

Today’s photo credit: TruckPR cc

spanner

The Three Planners

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading
Reading time: 1

There are three types of planners: the worrier, the fool, and the sage.

Worriers plan out of fear of what could go wrong. Their plans can reduce risk…and reward.

The opposite are the fools. They boast that everything will be fine. So they don’t plan. They may hit a home run occasionally…and they strike out often.

The sages plan out of anticipation of delightful results, of what could go right. They engage the people and line up the resources. They know some things likely will go sideways and they remain cool. Where they can anticipate trouble, they plan around it. When unexpected spanners enter the works, they deal with them deftly.

While we all want to be sages, sometimes we are worriers and fools. And with this awareness, we can be the sage more and more often.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: HVargas cc

both ways

Use Both Ways to Your Goals

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 2 min.

There are two ways to achieve a goal. Both work. One involves planning a series of steps that logically flow from one to the next. We then act based on our plans: “Make it so.” Most of us think we use this method most of the time.

The other is more freeform. Much more freeform, some would say.

This second way requires feeling. We feel what it will be like to achieve the goal, we keep our buzz high and feel a sense of appreciation for our situation, then we act as inspired. This is a highly effective way to achieve our goals. Yet few of us think or would ever admit that we use this approach. It seems so…uneducated? unsophisticated? unscientific? Funny thing: most of us use it all the time and don’t recognize it.

Use the first way when you know exactly how things will work out, when there are few uncertainties. Use the second way when you are in new territory or the outcomes are uncertain.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tse says, “The Master does nothing and yet nothing is left undone.” He’s talking about this second way. (We are the masters, btw.)

 

Today’s photo credit: Way Out via photopin cc

monolith

Change is Simple

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Organizations
Reading time: 2 min.

Because they are complex (and filled with people who tend to be quite complex themselves), organizations of any size are notoriously difficult to change. The assumptions, unknowns, and hidden dynamics normally overwhelm even the best change plans.

To change an organization, let’s forget about big project plans. Instead :

  1. Let’s study the current situation and answer the question, “Where are we?”
  2. Next, we describe our desired outcome, that is, “Where do we want to be?” Let’s ignore for now any notions about if we can or how we will do it.
  3. Given where we are and and where we want to be, let’s select the best next step and try it.
  4. Let’s Measure results.
  5. And we then repeat from step 1 until done.

This may seem way too simplistic. Yet it works. Here’s why:

  • People will trust–and therefore support–this approach more because we are making real progress. Instead of over-promising results, getting distracted by the next “flavor of the month” idea, or struggling to prop up a rigid, faulty, big plan, we are steadily delivering.
  • Instead of having to justify huge change budgets, we justify continuous, small investments.
  • Though any of the small “next steps” may fail, the damage would be small.
  • With each loop through this process, we gain precious learning. We get to test our assumptions. We correct our course as we learn.

Give it a try.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Is there no room for big projects and planning? Sure, as long as you can know that the desired project goal and underlying business environment will remain, unchanged, accurate, and relevant throughout your project.

 

Today’s photo credit: stevec77 via photopin cc

The Hows Take Care of Themselves

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, What=Compelling Focus
Reading time: 1

We face a huge obstacle when we set goals, make plans, and strategize: we worry over the “hows” too much.  Instead, let’s focus on the most desirable “whats” and then worry about the hows. In fact, to the extent we can clearly focus on our most desired whats, the hows (and the whens and the whos) will take care of themselves.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

 

Today’s Photo Credit

direction

Your Loosely Organized Career

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Career
Reading time: 2 min.

Sometimes we underplan our career. We float, wander, take the first offered opportunity, then take the next offered opportunity, etc. We end up feeling lost as if our career has sort of just happened to us.

Sometimes we overplan our career. We say we will take Job A to get us to Job B in X years. We get this degree to get that position for Y years then to leave and start up Z Inc. We try to cover every base that will get us from here to retirement at Millionaire Acres. Overplanning leaves us tired and stressed.

There is value, however, in both approaches. The value of planning is the delightful satisfaction of actually achieving something meaningful to you. The value of not planning is the access to opportunities, connections, and coincidences that stud the life stories of every successful person.

We need, then, a hybrid approach. Let’s call it a Loosely Organized Career.

In a Loosely Organized Career, we set high-level, meaningful goals based on our SweetSpot. For example, instead of saying, “I want to be EVP by the time I’m 48 then get a package at 55 to start my winery,” we would say, “I want to be a senior leader in a field I love, I want to make more than enough money, and I want to engage my passion for viticulture and good food along the way.” We then do just-in-time planning. Maintaining our focus on “there,” we take the next best step to get from here to there, repeating as needed until we get there.

As we go, our loose plan has room for serendipity to guide us to the ways, means, and outcomes we never could have planned for. We end up loving the journey and living that satisfying life well lived.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Un ragazzo chiamato Bi via photopin cc

Perfect Planning Prevents Performance

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 1

As they say, “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” Thing is, it can also promote poor performance–especially where there is fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

It can be scary to act. And refining the plan can seem like such a more palatable option.

Yet when we hold out for the perfect or even the near-perfect plan–one that answers the questions, silences the critics (including our own inner critics), and covers the risks–we stall. This has the unfortunate side effect of holding away our desired goals

Tip: Let’s say you imagine what it would be like to have achieved a long-desired outcome and it feels good. If you remain unsure how to proceed, then proper prior planning won’t help. Getting going will.

Luckily, you can always get going using Simple Planning. First, feel good. Then define or reiterate your desired outcome, decide and do the next step from where you are, and repeat until you have that desired outcome.

In your corner,

Mike