The 7-year itch
Many of us are used to the quotation of this old film and its salubrious meaning.
However, the 7-year time span is a common one for us to consider.
It is too long a time frame for us to feel panicked by when setting a meaningful goal. It is a healthy time frame for us to get used to the daily or weekly gains we need to achieve to enable the goal to become achieved.
It is also long enough to get complacent over but as long as we keep it in focus, we develop a sense of building urgency that motivates us for the up and coming deadline, gradually enough to keep it feeling achievable and worthy.
When we set a goal for seven years ahead, we will lull ourselves into a great big meaningful goal, but we would also be confident of achieving it because seven years is almost a bit too long to envision.
Many cycles of events relate to the number 7 and it is one of the most trusted numbers for us. Walmart carried out extensive research on the number and discovered that customers would actually pay more for the same item priced a bit less, as long as its cost ended in 7 or 70.
Its is not fully explained to be definitively accurate, but we do have sway to the number, quite naturally.
With this in mind, please consider the following.
What would you want to have in place in 7 years from now, for you to be proud of your achievement and proud of yourself for? Start with a 7-year vision and be bold. The rest of your goals will naturally fit around these. Sometimes just three major goals will help you with enough goal setting that if broken down over the 7-year timeline, will inspire and motivate you in a way that excites you.
A 7-year goal becomes several smaller goals, which in turn maybe 100 little goals. It’s the track to run on that gives you clear momentum and drive.
What would inspire you over the next seven years, to be driven and engaged, like never before?
I am curious
If I could, please ask…………?
Would you mind if I suggested……………………?
These statements were shared with me this week by Bernie Da Souza at a presentation that I consider was excellent.
It made me think about how we ask for information and how we expect answers regardless of how we ask. The kinder way to ask is to elicit opinion and then actually listen fully to the answer.
Never one to feel like I have all the answers myself, I continually wonder how I can improve things, and these hit home with me as being kind and respectful.
Bernie is an international speaker, author and coach. He even made the point that we all need a coach and of course he has his own.
So, please let me ask you…
I’m curious, do you use a coach. If not, why not. If so, how is that working out for you?
If I could please ask you, what would be the perfect client for you and how many of them would you like?
Would you mind if I made suggestions about how to find more perfect clients?
What this leads to is a future track to run on, and we all function better with a vision or written plan. Especially if it comes with a timeline.
The final part to any coaching is the need to track, give feedback and be accountable. The best way to do this is to give someone you trust the power to follow you up in a way that you know will keep you on track. If I suggest how to follow you up, then it may not work, but if you suggest how I should follow you up, it is more likely to succeed.
At Compass Business Coaching, we create a follow-up plan that enables you to be motivated, focused and excited about your goals. Plainly some goals have to do rather than want to do, but even just knowing that once these have to do goals are out of the way you can get excited about what follows, its better than relying on will power alone.
We all know how easy it is to be distracted off our hoped-for track. The reality is it is you who holds that key to a solution. We just show you how to make it so.
Check out Bernie Da Souza; you’ll love his stuff if you are mindful of the concept of coaching.
Sharing goals will always be more fruitful. Sharing ideas helps that too. Being accountable gives us power and energy.
Your ideas and story
Your top ideas. Your client’s top ideas.
I’m curious about people’s top ideas, and when I meet new business people, I’m often curious enough to get them to spill their heart out about what they love and why they do what they do.
The stories are often surprising, and I get taken aback by the depth of the emotion, adversity and tenacity that businesspeople seem to be able to relay so easily.
What makes your clients tick is easy to uncover with just a few of the right questions and a willingness to listen, rather than comment, lecture or show off.
If you were asked, so what made you start your own business? You would find it a good experience and spout the best of stories.
So, ask your clients to unfold their ‘why’ their passionate stories, inspirations, frustrations or even their wants.
Everyone has them. We all are moulded by experience, both good and bad.
Ask your clients. Ask in a way that indulges them. Let them be selfish. Give them the stage to boast from. Give them room and time to rant. Be a cheerleader for them and their struggles overcome.
They will be so pleased you allowed them to open up. Stories sell, Facts Tell.
Once they have done so, ask them these questions.
I ‘m curious, what are your top three tips?
What do you want from me? Not what do you need, just, what do you want?
Would it be ok if we quoted your knowledge to others that are just like you?
Start with yourself, what is your story.
Key people in your company and life.
I remember a significant customer who gave me so much business every year, that I joked about if he were ever ill, I would send my own personal doctor by helicopter to get him well again.
We laughed about it at the time, yet we all know that some people in our businesses, customers, key salespeople, directors and office managers can be so integral and valuable, we would do anything to keep them in situ.
With regard to team members, while this is impossible to guarantee, it is possible to strengthen their position with you to make it unlikely they would leave. It is possible to have the right health plans in place for them. We can pay them more than the open market value too. However, this is not good enough. Yes, it will help, but when you are running a business, you need more than a plan A or A & B.
First, it is not wise to be so dependant on one person. This means having a robust enough back up to replace anyone.
Secondly, it means recognising that this is a vulnerable position to let yourself be in. A table with only one or two legs will fall when one goes.
Thirdly, it means having the right people feel appreciated.
This last one is the overlooked one.
Appreciation is often shown with money, rewards or even recognition. However, the secret to appreciation is based on being real about it.
A heartfelt thank you. A case of wine, A personal thank you note. Perhaps a gift of extra time off.
One of my personal favourites is just a surprise gift. Saw this and thought of you. I knew you liked these, so I got you one.
It can often be like courting. When you are trying to win someone over you, tend to be more attentive than at any other time. Yet if we want people to be loyal and happy and productive, we have an easy option of just paying them the respect they deserve. It is not about money only. It is more about a sense of self-worth or contribution. Making a difference in people’s lives is a strong motivator. Tap into it.
Ask yourself, how can I improve the lives of the key people in my business, or life. They won’t get it easily anywhere, yet if we know how to, we can build a business based on the valuable traits that make people happy.
People will come and go for a variety of reasons. It is important to shore up the valuable assets in our businesses and families and relationships. The most valuable is often the people. Pay respect to that fact and it will serve you well.
Eight biggest mistakes of business owners
The following eight mistakes of business owners are not meant to be a comprehensive list because as all of who are business owners know the list is a lot longer than 8 points. However, I believe that if you address the following 8 points, those actions will have a massive impact on the profitability and success of your business.
These points are more about mindset changes as opposed to specific activities.
1. Being driven by money and not a passion for delivering value
Sure we have to make a good profit to remain in business. It’s no good having a wonderful business which you love if you do not make enough profit to live your desired lifestyle and help your teams of people do the same.
In the end, the money your business makes is a direct reflection of the value it offers and the number of people it delivers that value to
However, if your focus is ONLY on the profit, you will not build a strong growing business. A business is only as strong as the idea behind it and the value it delivers to its customers. Bear profit in mind but swing your mindset more to offering as much value as you can to your customers. The more you can grow and differentiate the value your business offers to your customers, the more “Raving Fans” you will build. Therefore, the word of mouth recommendations you get will significantly improve, and the more your business will grow.
Look at every one of your products and services. Focus ONLY on the ones that you believe you can offer extraordinary value to your customers and either ditch the rest or find a way of outsourcing that to someone else. This focus will make your systems and teams increasingly better, which will keep adding value and keep growing profits.
2. Not thinking long term sustainability
A business is not or at least should not be in the game of beating its competitors (unless it’s a sports team) It’s not about the competition – it’s about sustainability.
Business owners that focus on beating the competition simply do not understand the game they are playing. In sports, the game has a defined time limit, a defined set of rules and a referee. Your business has continually changing competition across the world; there is no time limit; there are no clearly defined rules and certainly no referee.
A business is in an infinite game where the game is really – To Stay in Business. You lose the game only if you go out of business.
If you want a long-term sustainable business, you have to start with the intention of growing a long term sustainable business not simply beating the competition.
Think long term. Build the best you can now and apply the Kaizen principle – Continuous and never-ending improvement.
- Keep your best people long term and keep helping them to improve.
- Build your systems for the long term and keep improving them
- Improve your products and services continually
- Build your financial reserves against a rainy day
- Protect your intellectual property – the way you do what you do
3. Not working on your personal development
Every business is a reflection of its leader or leaders. The way you think determines the culture and actions of your teams and ultimately what your business does and how it does it.
Working on your business is like adding extra apps to your phone. Very useful and certainly adds value if the apps are good.
Working on yourself as Leader is like changing the operating system from a mobile phone which simply makes calls to the supercomputer you probably have in your pocket right now.
Working hard and getting coached on your personal development will change how you think, your life and business strategies and how you interact with the world. Growing personally will inevitably change your life for the better.
4. Not working on your business culture
Your business has a culture irrelevant of what you do. Your culture is how you, your teams and your business behaves. The question is – How effective is your culture in winning your business game.
In the 1960s Douglas McGregor wrote a seminal business book called the “Human Side of Enterprise” about Theory X and Theory Y companies. – Google it to learn more
Basically, theory X companies work on command and control – They believe people need to be controlled, told what to do and how to do it.
Theory Y companies believe people are generally good, self-motivated and self-directed and want to produce a good job. They prefer the autonomy of being allowed to work to the best of their abilities.
Both methods can produce excellent results. It’s just one is much more fun to work in, less stress for the business owners and potentially is more sustainable in the long term.
Today in a fast moving and ever more complex world, the most talented people are increasingly mobile and well connected. They know their own worth and are only attracted to companies where they feel valued and can work with purpose-driven highly capable teams. It’s not just the money. In the first five years of Google, nearly everyone who worked for them took a salary CUT to join them because they were excited to work in a high performing autonomous culture.
You cannot hope to run a great business by yourself.
Building a great culture to attract extraordinary people who will help you grow your business with more fun and less stress is essential in today’s world.
5. Not measuring team members performance properly
You can make every effort to employ the right people and build a great culture, but still, some people will underperform. You or their team leader may feel that underperformance in their guts but its really hard and time-consuming to pin down. If you or a team leader gives a person a bad appraisal, that person can simply dismiss that appraisal as the “Boss is just a ********! – He /she doesn’t know what she is talking about. They then carry on regardless, doing the same as before or worse still simply paying lip service to the feedback.
So what’s the answer?
360 Degree anonymous reviews for every person in the company and especially team leaders and the boss from at least five other people who work closely with them. The results should produce average scores against a whole range of criteria.
It’s easy to dismiss parts of your appraisal because the boss is a ******** but practically impossible to do so if it’s all the people you work with giving you an average low score in a particular area of your performance. It does not matter what you think. Whether you think the score is fair or not is irrelevant – the fact is that other people who work closely with you believe this is a correct indication of your performance – so nearly everyone will take more notice of the results.
It’s essential that a 360 review system is put into place to help people develop because hopefully most of your people want to do a good job. Most of us are simply blind to our weaknesses. People should want to know how to improve otherwise, why are they working with you?
Following that 360 appraisals, a personal development plan should be agreed with every employee and regularly discussed and progress tracked by team leaders.
A team leaders MAIN job should be to get the best from his/her team
This regular feedback and tracking to help low performance in certain areas are essential for everyone. Across your company, this will produce extraordinary results. Across the board, low performers can be moved to other roles to give them a chance. Ultimately, low performers are likely to deselect themselves as it is very difficult to continue work in a team when you know everyone thinks you are underperforming. You will either strive to improve, or you will leave or the company.
Sometimes the company will have to “ask” some people to leave.
If you have to go through the correct disciplinary procedure with a few people who underperform you are protected. Its very difficult for them to claim unfair dismissal when a whole team of their peers are stating in their records that they are underperforming in key areas.
For your good people – they know they are doing a good job. As such they really want to know their lower scores (which they may well be blind to) and how they can up their game.
Measuring performance fairly across a range of key criteria and following it up properly will produce high performing and happier teams
What gets measured gets managed.
6. Not enough focus on attracting, identifying and engaging great people
Many companies boast about how great their training programs are. If you spend more time energy and resources on attracting, identifying and engaging great people you can spend a lot less on training. Great people are self-motivated. They will identify their weak areas and self-train without the need for much help from you. Smart, engaged people can learn how to do most things well provided there is someone to teach them.
In my opinion, there is NOTHING more important than doing everything you can to employ the best people.
Until you are certain you have a fantastic team of HR people with a highly systemised and proven record of employing great people do not leave it to them.
How can you be certain?
Develop scorecards and questions to determine the attributes you want for every prospective employee. Your performance management system should be checked back against the scorecards produced when that person was engaged. Were the scores in line with the actual performance the employee produces?
If not adjust the employment process and questions asked to improve your engagement process to only hire world-class people.
It’s currently x10 harder to get a job with Google than it is to get into Harvard business school. That’s not because they are a highly successful company now. They are a highly successful company because they work extremely hard to get the right people and build a culture for those people to perform well.
7. Not building systems for everything
Great people are essential, and they can even get around bad systems, but why should they have to?
Everything in the business should be part of a system with strong checklists.
You should have the attitude of: To err once is human to err twice on the same thing is stupidity.
If something goes wrong and you have a system – the first thing you should do is blame is the system – most bosses blame the person when in fact the error is probably the fault of the boss for not having a proper system. If the system is at fault talk to your people on how to improve the system, so the fault does not happen again.
Does this mean all your people become robots? Absolutely not – their role is to identify exceptions to the system, faults in the systems and have the authority to act accordingly without fear. They should also be architects of improving the systems and therefore will be engaged in making it work.
With great highly engaged people constantly looking to make 1% improvements to the company systems, the company continually improves to win its game.
8. Not having a coach
All of the above points take a lot of time, energy and resources.
All great performers have great coaches, and I believe it’s almost impossible to perform well without one.
A great coach will question your beliefs and thinking from which all your actions and results are driven. They will hold you accountable to drive forward when things get difficult, and you wonder if you will ever fix big problems. They will remind you that all big problems can be resolved with a good strategy and hard work even if it takes years.
A good coach keeps you in your business game and helps you win.
Enjoy the journey
WHAT IS BOTHERING YOU?
When you start to list the things that bother you and begin to wonder how best to resolve these issues, it can be very debilitating. Procrastination sets in, and the problem continues.
How do you break this circle?
First, you need to identify the problem. The first rule of dealing with any big issue is to admit it exists. Alcoholics are first asked to admit that they are an alcoholic because they can’t move on unless they do.
The same applies here.
A good friend of mine was always moaning about cask flow in his business, and I asked him to explain why he thought it was the case. He eventually admitted that he does a lot of work before being paid for it and relied on the good nature of his customers to always pay.
Once we analysed his outstanding invoices, he saw the patterns and the folly of awaiting payment. It was uncomfortable to decide to tell all his customers, money up front please, but once he bit that bullet, he solved the issue. Yes, he lost customers, but in his post-event analysis, he admitted, ‘ I lost the right ones to lose’.
Secondly, you are best to realise that you can’t solve all your own problems. You will need others to help you or even do it for you.
‘Who’ gets things done for you, is a better tactic to employ than ‘How’.
Most of the time there are quicker, more accurate and even enthusiastic people out there that will eat your problem and solve it, fast, better and to a conclusion. This is delegation and wisdom combined.
Stop holding on to the negative issues and get those that love this work to do it for you. You’ll be freer to do what you do best and less stressed too. You’ll have more energy and be more excited about the future knowing that when you hit a wall again, you’ll know what to do about it.
Surround yourself with those that love to do what you hate. Surround yourself with people smarter than you at the things that slow you down.
So, this all begins with asking yourself and being very honest about it
- What is bothering me,
- What is slowing me down
- What is taking my energy away?
What businesses are going to be the best in the future?
I was asked this at a business meeting last week, and although I thought I knew an answer, the number of different answers around the table made me question if I had even really considered it at all.
I work in a paper-heavy business and we are going through scanning 30,000 large files, to walk towards being paperless. Nothing new I hear you say. The obvious conclusion from that is programmers and scanners that relate to the many businesses that are paper and file dependent will have work for the foreseeable.
Looking through the costs and set up fees for the right scanner, software, training and servicing, it is easy to think that being in one of those is going to produce work for many years to come.
Yet the salesperson still had to contribute an understanding and interpretation, enough to help me get to grips with what I was signing this new lease contract for.
Would I be setting myself up to be trapped by the software provider, what about the scanner, after I have scanned the bulk of my files?
This thought led me to realise that the information we can find online is infinite, but the interpretation of how it works with each business is another.
One Will drafter was concerned that Wills would become digital in the years ahead. I do believe that to be so. However, the content of the electronic Will, video, signature, placement, style and even exclusions, will all need to be interpreted and structured or it can’t work.
The real work in the future is guiding. Helping people make decisions, reflection of goals, interpretation of facts, extrapolation of outcomes and even moral conjecture. These are difficult to digitise. I’d even say impossible.
The emotive foreplay before a decision is best seen through the eyes of others. Sharing ideas and weighing up the outcomes are often referred to as facilitating. This is something a coach does best.
The businesses of the future that will unlikely be replaced are creativity, coaching, teaching and motivating. Sooner or later we will find much of what we do replaced by computers. I know though that I shall be struggling to work big ideas or projects without the consultancy of wisdom from others.
I know that I rely on others motivating me and that I can get motivated by encouraging others. I’m amazed that 1+1 ideas often equals three ideas. That sharing problems halves them.
We all concluded that talking, listening, extrapolation, guiding, being a moral compass and even just asking the right questions, will all be currency of the future.
How does your business stack up to this? Is it congruent with your purpose and ethical stance? Does it fit your lifetime goals as being necessary or just wanted?
Just ask yourself, does your future look brighter knowing this?
Begin with the end in mind
‘The servers down’!!!!!
It seems like it’s the perfect excuse for not working or to take stock of the jobs that can be done when its down, that you may otherwise have decided was best not started.
Begin with the end in mind may not seem an obvious Stephen Covey quote to refer to when the server goes down, yet a recent event in my office led to the discussion about, what should we do when the satellites decide to play up.
One hour or five without the internet seem rarer these days. Our conclusion on the last event though helped us realise that we were distracted enough by our computers to have many of the ‘other jobs’ start to get behind.
One major benefit of this thinking is that it allows you to think of all that is needed for a job or project to be finished. Some of us are not good at following a job all the way through to the end, but some are.
Some of us use computers well and enjoy them. Some of us don’t.
It is helpful to think of a division of jobs that need tenacious computer types and jobs that need a tenacious other type.
A recent storage issue in one of my businesses helped me define a newer approach. Heavily paper based for over 20 years, made a big scanning project a necessity. To be frank the scanning should have been done years ago, but not being as tech based as the modern world requires, I kept putting it off.
Now I’m looking at selling this business, I am forced to face the challenge, that could have been easier had I been brave enough and thought end game more.
I ran the project by my team, and after a few ‘Luddite’ comments, I agreed I should not be the one running this. So, with the end in mind, I set the goal, I gave it to my tenacious computer-based people, and they are now charging through the job faster than I’d thought they would. With more enthusiasm than I could have mustered and with a better insight into how to get the job done than I could have. The end I have in mind seems so much closer.
I love the concept of sharing goals, getting the right people doing the right jobs, getting a deadline agreed and overall, delegating things that are just not my forte.
Waiting until the server is down, to discover what you can do without these amazing things called computers is not the best strategy. The jobs that are needed to be completed to get a project finished are best split between those that can be best at doing them.
Remember the differing versions of style of skills and mindsets you have at your disposal and if “begin with the end in mind” becomes an ingrained habit, you will get there so much quicker.
I look forward to next satellite wobble and its effects.
Letting go of the past and moving on
It is never easy to let go of a secure hand or foothold but to be blunt, how can you possibly climb the wall unless you do?
It takes faith in the new foothold and belief that it will take you to a better position. Until you let go, you’ll never know.
Imagine looking at a climbing wall and seeing climbers stuck in the middle. You shout and encourage them to move on, but they stubbornly say ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t because I’m afraid’.
You can see the goal ahead of them, but their face is pressed against the wall, and they can’t see what you see. They will stay there until they fall off or die.
Sometimes people around them are saying the same thing, and they are stuck too! They keep each other stuck by saying, be careful, don’t let go, you may fall off! It might be worse on the next foothold. So, they feel reassured that it best to stay where they are.
Occasionally, people come from below, and pass them and ask as they pass, ‘why are you staying there?’ They can’t understand why people would play it so safe they would sacrifice the rest of their lives in order not to take a risk. Some do fall off, and it scares the ones rigidly hanging on. Some of those who fell, get back on and still climb past them. Some are never heard of again. From the perspective of the hanger on it is frightening.
The coach has climbed that wall already. The coach is at the bottom or in the middle or at the top, offering advice, encouragement, and being the positive ‘, you can do it’
Some coaches are watching from a distance so that they can see the goal, the hurdles, the best strategies and the dangers. They are like your Sat Nav in life. My Sat Nav in the car sometimes says’ Your route has been altered due to the current traffic situation’. Being stuck on the climbing wall of life is like saying to your sat nav, well I don’t care, I’m just going to carry on doing what I have always done.
It’s strange, but that is how some people live their lives. Whether that’s based on fear, laziness, apathy, contentment or even just plain stupidity, at some point, in order to move on, or climb, you need to let go. Deciding what to let go of is part of the solution. Listening to those that have been there and done it is another.
The story of the spider monkey comes to mind when I think of the amount that we give up, by just not letting go of what is holding us back.
The poor spider monkey is a beautiful creature, that is traded as a pet all over the world. They are hard to catch in the wild, without hurting them. So, us ever ingenious humans came up with a way to catch them that is based on their greed and physique.
Their hands are like clubs on the end of a very skinny arm. They love nuts as a natural part of their diet, and this is their unfortunate demise. To capture one, all you need to do is put a thin-necked sturdy bottle in a strong box and put a few nuts in it. The spider monkey can smell them and reaches in to grab some. He loves them so much, he will not let go of them, and his big hand is now too big to pull out of the bottle. He is trapped. His captor then puts a chain on him and he is no longer free. The captor breaks the bottle, because he knows the spider money will not let go.
The monkey has not only given up his freedom for the rest of his life, but it was for only a few nuts which he could have let go and still be free.
What are you holding on to? What do you need to let go of?
Who could help you identify what it is and has the wisdom to reason with you, to ally your fears?
A coach offers this and more.
The high road or the low road?
- I felt I could make more money doing (what I do) myself
- I wanted to be in control of my own time
- I did not like the way I was treated at my last company
- I had a great idea that I wanted to put into practice.
This skill of understanding how to run a business well is significantly more important than knowing how the work of the business is done.
Review your company goals – are they set around the high road or the low road?
- The 7 year itch
- Directions on the path
- I am curious
- Your ideas and story
- Anti – testimonial
- Key people in your company and life.
- When is losing really winning?
- Holidays vs Time out
- Eight biggest mistakes of business owners
- What is bothering you?
- Do you want a new computer?
- Are you setting yourself up for failure?
- A Coach for all.
- What businesses are going to be the best in the future?
- Begin with the end in mind
- Letting go of the past
- Promise Keepers Rule Ok!
- The high road or the low road?
- Should I put a hammer through my TV? – The power of rituals
- Muhammad Ali – Inspirational thoughts