Sunday, September 26, 2010

Results, Not Effort

I'm noticing a growing problem in the workplace today. More and more people are defending their value based on how "hard" they are working - as if the amount of effort they expend means anything.

Those who know me know that I value hard work (I have no patience for laziness - in thought OR deed!), but working a lot and accomplishing little is moronic.

There, I said it.

If a logger works hard, spending all day trying to cut down a big tree with a penknife when they could be using a chainsaw, do we applaud their effort? Of course not. We call him foolish! Loggers are valued by how many trees they cut down. The amount of time or effort they spend doesn't add any additional value. It simply isn't relevant to the outcome.

The weird thing about human nature is that we tend to judge others by their results while we judge ourselves by our intent. [Enter loud buzzer sound here.] Sorry. This doesn't (and will never) be acceptable to any logical, fair-minded person.

The measuring criteria is results. Period.

In the real world, we earn value by creating it. Effort and time are things that are spent. Hopefully, our energy and time is invested in a way that creates more value than we used. If not, we chose poorly. If so, then we are growing our resources and influence - and benefit because of that.

Value is defined by the one "purchasing" the outcome - whether an employer or the recipient of the effort. An employee who can create ten quality widgets an hour (regardless of effort) will always be worth more than someone who creates less. If you are exerting more time/effort than others on a particular activity and producing less, rethink your approach. Either learn do be more effective or switch to something that is more aligned with your personal strengths.

Spending more time and effort defending your lack of results is, well, an additional waste of time and effort...because it will not result in a better result. It just sounds like whining (definition of whining = "anger coming out of too small a hole." Ha!)

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Gaining The Power To Make A Difference

Had an interesting conversation with a client last week about making a difference. He said he wanted to but felt powerless to actually make it happen. Here are some relevant insights/options that might be relevant to what you are going through:

First of all, all power is actually based on the influence you have in a particular situation - either over things or people.

When I was in charge of Leadership initiatives for the Disney Institute, my team discovered that the most successful leaders at Disney first influenced people so that they could affect things and lead people (followers) accordingly.

That said, there are many different ways to gain power/influence:

  • What you have - When you have money/resources, you are of value to others and can influence accordingly. Keep in mind that your "stuff" is not you. If your resources go away, so does you influence/power.
  • Who you know - Are you influential with those who are influential? Meet them, get to know them, and be worthy of their trust/respect.
  • What you know - Develop yourself so that you know information or have skills regarding something of value to others. An important thing to know is what matters to the people you want to make a difference with - and what is currently influencing that situation.
  • Who you are - Do people care about you? Do they admire you? Do they fear you? If so, they will be willing to do things for you - including tap into their resources. (FYI: The fear condition is always short-term and always backfires.)

Bottom line: The most sustainable strategy is to be a person of integrity and connect with people - proving that you are trustworthy and care about them. Then develop yourself with what you know (education) and what you can do (skill). Who you know and what you have may ebb and flow with time, but relationships and abilities (when properly maintained) will provide all the influence and power you'll need to make a difference.

Have you identified what legacy you want to leave? What is your passion? What worthwhile goals do you have that help those you care most about?

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Monday, September 13, 2010

What Vision Tool Lacks True Vision?

I've been noticing a disturbing trend. It involves people focusing themselves on their future.

Now, I'm all for people being strategic about where they want to go. I'm a huge advocate, in fact. My problem is the way some folks are going about this very important task.

They're creating "Vision Boards".

I'm not even really against Vision Boards (where people cut out and post pictures that represent their vision for their best future as a form of daily inspiration/reminder.) I just have an issue with the way a lot of people (most?) are doing them...because they are severely missing the point and undermining themselves.

Most people cut out photos of homes, cars, vacation spots, jewelry, expensive clothes, etc. - in other words "things". Of course, owning things is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. It's just that "things" are an outcome of being successful - NOT success. Trust me. Having all the "toys" is nice, but despite enjoying them, it is not what makes you successful or happy. Once you get the "things" - what next?

It is much more helpful to develop a Vision that reflects a more noble (unchanging) goal: who you want to BE. The difference you want to make. The impact you'll have on people's lives. Not as easy to find magazine photos of these things, but they are the real, deep-seeded driver that inspires/motivated your efforts in the long run.

Success is really about others. Things are usually about self.

Ironically, your "self" benefits most when you benefit others best.

So, what's your "True North"? Is it compelling you to grow and improve today? Are you moving in the right direction?

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Multiplying Your Impact

I had an interesting conversation this week with a client about how they seem busier than ever, but don't seem to be accomplishing as much as they need to.

A pretty common problem, based on what I've heard and seen lately.

Lots of challenges: high expectations, people are struggling/desperate, competitors are intensifying their efforts to gain/keep market share, tension at work...and at home.

The real problem is that expecting a "one for one" return on your time/effort is no longer a sustainable proposition. More and more resources are available that can multiply efforts, so that is becoming the benchmark.

The solution?

1. Make sure that you are moving in the right direction. [Is it your passion? Does it align with your personal Values? Is it what your customers - whether in your personal or professional life - really, truly want?]

2. Connect with pre-existing, natural networks. [For example: if you sell widgets, identify (or start!) a widget-users association of people who are passionate about widgets. Make the very best widgets possible. Provide value. Invest effort to be an influential authority within that community. Enlist your new fans to participate in connecting the dots between their passion and your product. If you honestly deserve their business, the value of your product/service will spread like wildfire throughout this pre-existing network of passionate members.]

3. Connect with various types of social marketing venues [Even if, like me, your forte is not technical or social networking, you can partner with those who provide this service. Chances are your passionate, loyal customers will handle spreading the word if you simply give them access to you.]

This effort will guarantee that others - whether in person or via social networking, etc. - will multiply your efforts. When your activities align with who you are, your customers, and the most effective forms of connecting all those dots, you (via "they") will multiply your impact.

Think about it. But more importantly - do something about!