My daughter and I went to see the Hannah Montana movie last year. Her song “The Climb” had a great line: “It ain’t about how fast I get there. It ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.”
Psychologist Miley Cyrus. Life coach Hannah Montana. Thanks. I needed that.
Later, I was thinking about our business and what is important in what we do. Below are some beliefs that I came up with that have helped me get better at what I do, not just in my work life, but also in my personal life.
Positive thoughts and environment are critical to growth. As a leader, your job is to maintain a consistent, positive atmosphere with people who work with you. What we do transfers to others. As John Maxwell, leadership expert and speaker, says, “They’ll hear your message, but they’ll follow your footsteps.”
Also, look to foster an environment of creativity and drive, focusing on your firm’s abilities and talents. Do not penalize honest mistakes. The environment should be one of creativity and nothing kills that faster than punishing something that is less than perfection. Michael Eisner, former CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said, “The creative spirit is what keeps people coming back. That is the thing that makes a company much more valuable.” Remember that excellence is the goal, not perfection.
Focus your time, effort and attention on your strengths. Speaker/author Marcus Buckingham teaches that only 17 percent of people perform to their strengths. Write down those things that make you feel strong after you do them, and then find ways to do those things most of the time. Try to manage your weaknesses better.
If I am terrible at something that I dislike, I will work very hard on it and become just really bad. I like what I like. I am good at what I am good at. That won’t change much. That goes for employees as well.
I always tell people to get to their “bullet point.” When we hire an employee, he may have four or five areas of responsibility or bullet points. As we hire others, we try to hire those with such talent and strengths that we can remove a bullet point from existing employees. We try getting our employees down to the one or two bullet points that they are best at. When you see an organization that has accomplished this, it is a strong and dynamic place to be.
Challenge your assumptions. My pastor said, "Leaders must bring the underlying assumptions that drive company strategy into line with the changes in the external environment."
We all have different assumptions/beliefs that drive our companies and their strategies. The more the economy changes, the more products are created and the more we must challenge what we have always assumed. This includes how we do business, how we communicate, how we design benefit portfolios, etc. If we don’t, we may be working in an environment not based on reality and we may get results not based on projections we believed would happen.
Know what you “do.” There is nothing as effective as focus. In fact, brilliance has often been labeled as “intense focus.”
To achieve focus, know who your true clients are. Have a crystal clear idea of your importance to them. Also, understand what you really do. Here is my litmus test on this “know what you do” thing: Can my 7-year-old understand what I do?
Dale A. Alexander, CLU, ChFC, CFP, is president of Alexander & Company, Woodstock, Ga. Contact him at 770-517-5622.