Friday, April 20, 2012

Good Memories Are Built

Think about all your fondest memories. Your first kiss. Your favorite vacation. The time your life changed for the better.

Imagine what it would be like to NOT have those memories.

Imagine what it would be like to have MORE fond memories.

So, what causes these valuable "I'm a better person because I experienced that" memories?

To figure this out, let's break it down:

  • You recall them because they are significant.

  • They are significant because you were involved.

  • You were involved because you opted to be actively engaged in the activity.

  • You were actively engaged because you took the risk - the first step - in embracing whatever (and wherever) that activity would take you.
Bottom line: All these great memories are the result of you initiating (or at least responding to) whatever the NEW activity was. If you hadn't been open to trying that new experience or had the courage to take those steps to be involved, you would not have those memories.

And what a shame that would be. Especially since enjoying those memories are simply a result of something YOU control: Actively trying something new.

So, you want more memories? You want a fuller legacy? Get more active. Consider those dreams you've had about visiting a special place or connecting (or re-connecting?) with someone or attempting that new thing that you've always wanted to try. Those memories won't happen until you take that first step.

And there's no time like the present to create more good memories. (You're worth it!)

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

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whatchu Lookin' At?

I recently had an odd experience while walking my dog. We were in the back yard playing fetch with her favorite ball when I threw it and it bounced off a birdbath and ricocheted into a flower bed. My dog proceeded to run around, sniffing, and looking (unsuccessfully) for the ball in the wrong part of the yard.

She's not the smartest dog (we refer to her as our "special needs dog"), so wanting to help her out, I walked over to her, got her attention, and energetically pointed to the bushes where the ball was saying "Look!"

Well, she looked alright. At my pointing finger.

Over and over again. Me saying "Look! Get it! There it is!" followed by my dog, consistently, keeping a laser-fixed stare at my finger.

I realized that the action of my hand/finger moving towards the target (her favorite ball) actually distracted from her prize. She was so fixated by my pointing, she failed to see the more important thing I was pointing at.

Then I thought how people sometimes get the same way. Instead of looking at the valuable prize (wisdom, insights, etc.) we often get so enamored with the pointer (a brilliant expert, a dynamic speaker, etc.), we miss what they are working so hard to point towards.

Bottom line: Those people/things in our lives that provide direction are usually not the answer. They are merely pointing to the answer. It is up to us to look in the right direction for the actual insight itself. If we fail to do this, we will fail to get that prize we ultimately desire in life.

And it's almost always better than a slobbery old ball.

So, where are YOU looking these days?

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

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fatal Benchmarking Mistakes

Much has been said of benchmarking – the act of looking to best-in-class companies and measuring yourself against their methods. Of course, the expectation is to gauge how you compare with industry leaders, identify where you can improve, and adjust your methods to achieve those same best-in-class results. Most fail because they are going about benchmarking in the wrong way.

The second most common mistake is to simply adopt what the benchmark is doing. This often fails because your culture and/or circumstances are different than the benchmark organization. The better approach is to adapt their methods so they make sense in your unique situation. Consider how you can improve the best practice by tailoring it to your business.

But the biggest mistake, by far, is that people tend to focus only on the benchmark’s tactics. Attempting to copy present-day actions will certainly help – but only in the short term. The problem with this approach is that legitimate industry-leading organizations are continuously improving. To adopt a best practice and stick with it will only ensure that your competition will eventually pass you by. A fatal mistake.

The key characteristics of world-class companies that make them different and better are not just what they do – but how they think! Why do they consider things the way they do? What are the priorities? What are the non-negotiables? How do they create consistency when circumstances are constantly changing? How do they deal with all the swirling details that we all have to juggle and, with essentially the same resources, achieve better results?

When you benchmark the right way, you gain insights that matter – and that make a long-lasting improvement to the health of your business. The choice is yours: tap into the solutions that will spark your sustainable breakthrough or adopt a short-term approach that will struggle to gain traction and will ultimately fail.

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