The "Weeds" series finale on the Showtime network left a lot of people disappointed. I was one of them until it hit me: The entire ending was about Nancy Botwin’s key question. What is your key question? Embracing your question provides the measuring stick for your success. It lights the path toward the results you need to achieve in order to be fulfilled. And, it defines what it means to be significant and contribute.
he Great Depression created the environment for companies such as Texas Instruments and Hewlett-Packard. Microsoft, Genetech, and Apple were all founded in the oil shock and stock market downturn of 1973 to 1976. And, the legendary brands of the next fifty years, I believe, will be created in the crucible of today’s challenges. The same principle applies to personal wealth, and that is why you must read Risky is the New Safe by Randy Gage.
You can blame technology or globalization or anything else you want. It doesn’t really change the fact that the status quo is the kiss of death for every person, every organization, and every marketplace. And that is where constant change becomes the new stability.
Two incidents occurred in the past week that reinforces a critical factor in every leader’s effectiveness: The impact of mistrust. Both incidents prove this truth about the ability to influence others: If they don’t trust you, everything you say will be twisted against you and nothing you say will be given the benefit of the doubt.
Amazing rhetoric makes for interesting water cooler and Facebook conversation. Amazing results makes for legendary leadership. For which would you rather be known?
There are several guarantees in the campaign for President of the United States: • The other side – regardless of the side you are on – will be portrayed by their opponents as completely out of touch with the “average” American • Every candidate will make promises that can only be kept with the cooperation of Congress, and every candidate will pledge to work with their opponents across the isle • Personal attacks will be plentiful and usually cloaked in an argument about policy implications • The choice between candidates will always be framed as two distinct visions that will determine the destiny and fate of the country • Integrity – or specifically the lack of it – will be called into question by the candidates, their surrogates, and the media pundits There is little any of us can do to change the first four items on this list. They are going to happen regardless of any efforts to restore civility and common sense to the campaign.
A friend emailed me late last week with a question: Are temporary jobs replacing permanent jobs as the standard in the workplace? The answer is it depends on how you define a temporary job. The use of temporary jobs is definitely increasing as companies work to keep their flexibility. Employers learned a lesson during the past recession: You don’t want to be caught with a huge overhead when the economy starts faltering.
Accountability and the execution that accompanies it explain why the smartest or most talented people don’t always experience the greatest levels of success. If accountability didn’t matter, the company with the best product or service would dominate the marketplace. And, every government agency would deliver amazing value. Talent, time, experience, and resources do matter. As we enter the 2012 Summer Olympics, the country of Monaco is a safe bet to continue its string of 26 Olympiads (both summer and winter) without winning a single medal. So if you are the USA Men’s Basketball Team competing against Monaco go ahead and take the day off from accountability. I am guessing that you will survive. But that’s not your reality. You don’t hire all the smart people while your competitors hire dunces. You aren’t running the most up-to-date computer systems while your competitors are using Commodore 64’s. Accountability is – more times than not – the difference between achieving your goals and getting beat in the marketplace.
Another month, and another weaker than expected jobs report. So what’s up with the economy? Welcome to the new normal: Unemployment that is higher than anything we can remember in decades. Scores jobs are available due to a lack of skilled workers. Slow growth that feels like a recession even though technically it isn’t, and most of all, uncertainty.
We live in an era of unprecedented uncertainty. At least that is what we are led to believe. Yes, the economy is sputtering at best. Jobs are at risk or non-existent. Europe could implode financially. The Middle East could implode politically. Depending on your political views, either the left or the right is about to take the country over a cliff from which there is no return. The challenges we face are certainly more expansive in their scope, but unprecedented uncertainty? Hardly. Do you believe that the level of personal anxiety is any higher today than that which existed during the Cuban Missile Crisis; World War I or II; the Civil War; the Great Depression; or life in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War?
My friend Larry Winget (www.LarryWinget.com), blew up his Facebook following last week when he posted this comment: “If your life sucks, it’s because you suck!” A number of people missed Larry’s point. Your life isn’t defined by your circumstances unless you allow it. There are many people – like my friends W. Mitchell and Chad Hymas – who have refused to allow tragic circumstances that were not their fault define their lives. And, there are others whose lives have spiraled out of control despite living in ideal circumstances. Circumstances can make it easier or more difficult to succeed. They can define your environment. But ultimately, the choice to be personally responsible and accountable is more important than your circumstances.
You may not remember Dick the Butcher. He was a rather forgettable character in William Shakespeare’s play, Henry VI, Part II. The chances are good, however, that you remember Dick’s famous line: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Henry VI addresses England’s loss of its territories to the French and, most important, the personal jealousies that tor the political system apart. Dick, a follower of the anarchist character Jack Cade, believes that lawyers played an active role in keeping the common people down. So what would Shakespeare’s character say today if he were to write about the poor performance and caustic environment that plagues many organizations and keeps workers from being productive?
There is a moment of truth in every organizational change that determines if the effort has a chance of succeeding or is destined to fail. It is the point where good intention is transformed into focused action. It when everyone looks at each other and says, “Oh, S**T! They’re Serious!”
There are only a handful of things at which you must be excellent to be successful in business. It doesn’t matter what type of business you are in, your model is not that complicated. But, it is hard. Really hard in fact.
It is time to stop thinking about new management initiatives and start embracing leadership principles. Programs and initiatives come and go. Principles never end. There is only one leadership principle you will ever need if your goal is a culture where everyone is committed to consistent results, strong working relationships, and volunteered accountability.