This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. As a follow up to our last blog, “Being a Repeat Success, ” there is one addition to this list of attributes: vision, focus, innovation, courage, accountability and humility – gratitude – it seems to be a timely addition.
I like to review who, what, when, where and how to thank.
Who to thank?
It’s better to make a general practice of offering a sincere thank you to everyone: clients, partners, colleagues, vendors, employees, family, friends, even the person holding the door. Saying thank you is the smallest gift we can give to everyone we encounter. When we say thank you, it’s an acknowledgement not just for an act of service, but for also to let people know that they are noticed. I have a very dear friend that at the end of every conversation, she says, “Thank You.” I have come to notice that she not only thanks me, she consistently thanks everyone. People always walk away with a smile. I know that I do.
What to thank? Thanking people for their time, interest, ideas and attention is as important as thanking them for receiving a product or a service. Showing gratitude displays that we value their business, their contributions and their faith in us. Saying thank you demonstrates that the relationship is more than the transaction, it’s about lasting relationships that help each of us deliver and receive outstanding quality and service. The more specific the thank you, the more likely people are to sense authenticity and sincerity.
When to thank? Timing is everything. This time of year in the United States, it Thanksgiving, which is an opportune time to send out cards, it’s better than specific holidays which are not universally celebrated. However, anytime is the right time as long as it’s done in a timely manner with taste and honesty. It’s not helpful to thank people at the end of the day or event, if there has not be an effort to extend appreciation throughout the course of the day, the process, the project or the year.
Where to thank? Expressing a “thank you” is not for public display. The more private the better it’s received. Whether it’s a personal or professional thank you, offering a discrete thank you helps to avoid embarrassment. I am coming to realize how uncomfortable people can be when there is a public display. Unless you have permission, it’s best not to make to public a display of gratitude.
How to thank? Given our fast paced world, we will often opt to use the most convenient method, and my least favorite, texting or emailing a TX. When face-to-face, saying thank you with a smile and eye contact is so refreshing. If the opportunity presents itself, even a handshake is a nice touch; this may take slowing down and shutting off the cell phone. I find that letting the person know that I appreciate them means more to them being too busy, rushing off or talking on the phone. This simple practice of gratitude shows even a chance encounter that they are important enough for me to direct my attention and interest. If possible, send a handwritten thank you note. For me it’s always a welcomed surprise when I open the mail and find a card or note.
In order that we are able to “be a repeat success,” we can add the simple act of gratitude. We would love to learn more about other thoughts and insights for adding gratitude and are looking forward to learning from you.
We also would like to say…
In many conversations of late, accountability seems to be the main topic. What does accountability mean? Instead of using the typical dictionary definitions, I’d like to use some classic quotes.
This one really hits home. When we over promise, we all too often under deliver. I know from personal and professional experience that rather not than keep my word to others, I will compromise, short change and even overlook my own business and family needs.
Here’s two tips for handling over promising:
I’d like to slightly rephrase this quote, “It’s not only what we do, but also what we avoid doing, for which we are accountable.”
My parents gave me many gifts, two that come to mind as I read this quote are: always do your best and what you start you finish.
The commitments we make matter. When taking on a responsibility, it’s always first and foremost my choice to agree. Once I take on that responsibility, it is up to me go all in and do my very best. There is no room today for a halfhearted approach, I recently listened to a TED Talk by Brene Brown, PhD where she discussed vulnerability and courage, the true sign of courage is being vulnerable enough to confront life and issues with and open and trusting heart. Dr. Brown discussed how valuable it is to risk non acceptance, making mistakes, not knowing enough and showing others and ourselves that we dare to share and be exposed while giving it our all.
To not finish, for me, demonstrates lack a true lack in my character. When we decrease our participation or just plain quit, it violates all the trust that others have invested in us. This trust takes a long time, if ever, to be regained. No matter what the age, position or outcome, if we sign up, we need to show up and actively participate. Avoidance rarely makes a challenge or problem get better or go away. When we avoid one time because we are not the star or the winner, we generally will not get a chance to come out on top the next time.
I will leave you with one final quote by Bret Hoebel
If I could give one tip for people – it’s not an exercise or nutrition regimen. It’s to walk your talk and believe in yourself, because at the end of the day, the dumbbell and diet don’t get you in shape. It’s your accountability to your word.
We would love to hear you thoughts on some of the pitfalls and solutions that you when dealing with your accountability.
In the Star Wars saga created by George Lucas, there is reference to the “Force.” Lucas defined this “force” as, “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds and permeates us. It can be good or evil.”
There is an “energy” that surrounds and permeates every corner of our business. It has a crucial impact all aspects of our business, affecting our morale, motivation, finances, quality, service and long term viability. As with any force, there needs to be positive discipline, direction and focus across all levels of the organization so that the energy moves us in the right direction. Therefore, finding and channeling this “force” within our business now becomes a major imperative to determine to what degree our business is driving towards success or towards failure.”
This business imperative requires, what we 720thinkers like to call, a key business strategy called Mining Your Business. This process is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it a quick fix. Instead, this is a dynamic process that requires an extensive commitment of analysis, critical thinking, objectivity and ultimately positive focused action.
Although there are many layers to this process, I would like to share with you two things that will help you to find and channel “positive” forces within your business.
1. An external organizational 360 degree audit. This audit needs to include customers, vendors, stakeholders and strategic partners. The purpose of this evaluation is to help your company take a step back and determine the issues that can serve as threats to your brand while simultaneously identifying those opportunities can help you stabilize and grow future business. To follow are some sample questions that can help in your audit process.
2. An internal organizational 360 degree audit. This audit needs to include a comprehensive cross section of your organization. If you are the owner or CEO, use the board or investors, to serve as your boss, ask peers or colleagues, ask direct reports and other levels deeper and further away in the organization to give you honest and as often as possible, anonymous feedback. The purpose of this internal diagnostic is to take the organization’s internal “temperature” to determine how hot (fully engaged, passionate team players) or cold (disengage, indifferent hostages) is your culture. To follow are some sample questions that can help in your internal evaluation process.
As you probably have guessed, these are just two small step in doing some serious evaluation of the “force” within your business. The truly successful organizations make this an annual process. We are almost at the midpoint of the final quarter for this calendar year. If you don’t want to see money, talent, customers and resources go down the drain, consider investing some quality time and energy in determining if the energy that “permeates and surrounds” your organization is the positive force you want and need to drive your company to success in 2014.
And, “May the force be with you!”
In business, as in life, there is a tremendous amount of pressure and fear. We all know that some of those greatest fears are fear of failure, fear of public speaking, fear of…. Obviously, that list can go on and on. Interestingly enough, one of the greatest fears that people possess is the fear of success.
Abraham Maslow, a renowned psychologist, once wrote, “So often we run away from the responsibilities dictated (or rather suggested) by nature, by fate, even sometimes by accident, just as Jonah tried—in vain—to run away from his fate.”
In the Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale, Jonah tries to evade his destiny, is swallowed by a whale and successfully lives after spending three days and nights in its belly. Jonah eventually fulfills his destiny. With the story in mind, the Jonah Complex was created. Although the complex has been attributed to Dr. Maslow, the Jonah Complex was originally suggested by his friend, Professor Frank Manuel. The complex is defined by Maslow as “the fear of success which prevents self-actualization or the realization of one’s potential. It is the fear of one’s own greatness, the evasion of one’s destiny, or the avoidance of exercising one’s talents.”
Being fearful of success can seem counter-intuitive, it does explain how even the most apparently confident person can sabotage their success. So, what are five of the signs that demonstrate that we might be experiencing the Jonah Complex?
1. Procrastination – We keep putting off the “must dos” on our list and focus on the “comfortable-to-dos.” For example, investors request a business plan and we can’t seem to get it done. We need to make cold calls and we send emails or call after business hours only to reach voice mail. A procrastination technique that hits close to home is to “rescue’ someone else because their business or problem is more important than mine.
2. Not fully aware of capabilities – All too often, as leaders, we don’t know our individual or our company’s collective capabilities. We fail to succeed because we fail to evaluate our own skills, gifts and talents. All too often, we can easily identify our weaknesses. As a result, we spend our time trying to “fix” those attributes or issues that can and won’t lead us to success anyway.
3. Not emotionalizing our vision – There is no hope for success without passion. We fail to generate enough energy and emotion to propel us forward. We would rather sleep, eat, party or any other of those “feel good” actions that give us short term happiness, not long term satisfaction.
4. Letting others talk us out of the idea –We will talk about the dream, the idea or objective, rather than planning the approach. When we share our aspirations with others, we receive “advice.” Yes, the advice may be well meaning and have some merit for caution and consideration. But nothing, and I mean nothing, should cause us to cloister our dream on a shelf, gathering dust.
5. Negative Self-talk – This last sign may actually occur because we have experienced the previous four. Even though leaders and entrepreneurs know that we are capable of being successful, we don’t believe in it or more importantly in ourselves. Subsequently, our failure to believe in ourselves causes us to “talk” ourselves out of the idea even before it can get off the ground. The record that runs in our head can go like this: “Some else has done this already.” “I don’t have the right connections.” “We don’t have enough money.”
Now our dream is stalled and stymied. Is that what we really want to have happen?
So, what can we do? And, more importantly, what will we do?
In summary, if we take the premise of the Jonah Complex, that we are destined for success and we must overcome all the obstacles that prevent us from being fully actualized, then we will not ever need to fear success again.
Business thinking today is all too often about worry and fear. If and when the focus is on negativity, too little of our mind power and our talent go to actually achieving our dreams and goals. What if we could turn that negativity around, make positive, proactive progress and sustainable change?
Obviously, this is not a new problem. Dr. William James, the man considered the Father of American Psychology, addressed this very issue by promoting a concept that he called the “As If” principle. Dr. James’ approach was really simple…
Acting as if the world is falling apart, there is no hope and the company cannot survive will pretty much guarantee that your world, your community or your company will fail. When individuals and teams are asked, “how many of you are hired to solve problems” most people will raise their hands. Their energy immediately goes up, ideas start to flow and there is immediate action towards solving then problem. A problem acted upon, is a problem 90% solved.
When an obstacle stands in the way, turn that barrier into a stepping stone. If people are asked, “how many of you like adventure” there is usually a loud, resounding yes. Once again, the shift in energy is amazing and positive. People, sit taller, eyes sparkle, anticipation rises and new options open up. Exploring looks and feels a lot better than hitting a wall.
When someone puts down your ideas or dreams and says you are going to fail, let them know that YOU intend to make it happen and MOVE on. There’s a saying – “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.” Staying in the conversation with someone that is trying to beat you down will only cause you to lose momentum. Now is the time to “act as if” nothing, and I do mean, nothing can dissuade your from your purpose and passion. This is a very healthy way to keep on going towards success.
When you have creativity blocks “act as if” you are really innovative. Pull out crayons, blank sheets of paper. Drawing is not one of my talents, but when I am stuck, I become the Picasso of stick figures (at least in my mind). It’s amazing how imaginative we can become when we simply DO something creative.
When we act “as if” we are happy, inspired, leaders, invaluable, value centered and the list can obviously go on and on in a positive direction, we are so much more likely to be successful. Why not give it a try?