The Slight Edge to Success

I was introduced to the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.  I began reading it yesterday morning while waiting for some work to be done on my wife’s car in the shop.  I am enjoying it and highly recommend it to you .  

I sent the following in an email to my team here at work.  Olson makes a great point on success, and I want to share it with you now.  

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Jeff Olson shares that most people in life want to experience success but only around 5% actually do something to become successful.  According to Olson (and I agree with him), “success comes through simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.”  That is TRUE.

Here’s an example of that.  In the past 3 years, I’ve lost nearly 50 lbs.  I did not wake up the other day and BAM! those 50 lbs were mysteriously gone (wouldn’t that be great!?!).  No, here’s how that happened:

  1. I decided to fight my diabetes by changing the way I ate.
  2. I researched eating a LCHF (low carb/healthy fat) lifestyle.
  3. Every day, I concentrated on reducing my carbs.  For me, I worked to keep my daily carbs to <100g
  4. Every day, I used My Fitness Pal app to keep track of what I ate and how many carbs I consumed at each meal.
  5. Every day, I stuck to my plan.

 

I didn’t intend to lose weight.  My goal was to reduce my blood sugar numbers – I was unhealthy!  But as a “side effect”, I was losing weight by focusing on reducing carbs every day.

Did you read that?  “every day”  My weight loss success was due to the “simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.”  I lost 30 lbs in less than 120 days earlier this year.  I’ve kept it off, too.

Here in your job, you can be successful. It will require daily disciplines that are easy to do.  Really, they are easy.  But just like trying to lose weight, disciplines are also easy not to do.  The choice is yours.

So here are 10 Core Commitments for you.  This is my challenge to you.  Work on these commitments every day at every opportunity.  There may be days when you don’t get to all 10, but if you make it a focus, I bet you’ll do more than you think.

10 Core Commitments

  1. Follow-up (issue resolution, member service one step beyond)
  2. Follow-through (keeping our promises)
  3. Ask for the business (connect to our experts)
  4. Be pleasant & professional (smile and use their name)
  5. Ask for referrals (members who are “fans” will promote us – ask them!)
  6. Communicate appropriately (in-person, on the phone, email, texts)
  7. Add value (be helpful)
  8. Use our resources (and apply what we’ve learned)
  9. Take action now (to delay can mean losing)
  10. Listen more (to get to the core of the issue)

 

Actively, Daily doing this will:

  • Build our business
  • Bring us success (and you personally!)
  • Bring our members success
  • Bring our co-workers success

So There’s a Problem on Your Team…by Jim Johnson

No manager/leader will ever have a career where everything goes according to the plan.  Something is wrong on the team you lead. The wheels get wobbly on the wagon.  Sometimes they fall off.  Sometimes you have folks in the wagon that you wish were on someone else’s wagon.  Stuff happens.

There are times where a turn-a-round is a pretty simple fix.  Then, again, you’ll be faced with a team that is out of sorts – with each other, with you, or both.  Those times can be tough.

As the leader of your team, it is your responsibility to keep everyone on the same page, right?  Your boss will expect this of you.  Your company’s culture, I’m sure, demands it.  Teams that don’t function appropriately quickly stand out.  Managers who lead these teams also stand out.  So if you’re “stuck” in this situation, how do you handle it?

First, own it.  Whatever is happening…whatever has been said…what ever is the complaint…own what you can of it.  Take responsibility.  There is truth in difficult situations.  Find it and act upon it.  Yes, there will be drama, lies, and innuendos.  Stay clear of those.  Acknowledge the truth and act.

Second, understand your role and your team’s role.  As the leader, you will be setting the tone and leading the charge towards change.  Your team will be watching you.  That’s good.  Model the appropriate attitude and behaviors.  And know that it’s not all on you.  Each member of your team needs to be committed to helping the team out of its hole.  Personal opinions and biases get in the way.  Leaders can fall into the trap of blaming the team.  The team will talk about the leader behind his/her back.  Everyone is looking for a personal win.  But in business, “the house wins”.  You and your team needs to realize that the success of the business is paramount.  The best scenario is to bring alignment from both the leader and the team to what will be the “win” for the company.

Third, communicate.  If things aren’t going as you wish they were, don’t stop communicating.  You are still the manager.  Tell your team where they are succeeding.  Share with them where they are not.  Communicate change clearly.  If you don’t, your team will fill the “holes” with what they assume is happening in the change.  

Fourth, coach.  Spend significant time moving your individual team members forward.  A difficult team environment is not an excuse to stop developing your team.  They need you more than ever.  Keep the conversation on personal growth and your team’s/company’s metrics.  Don’t get caught up in the drama of one employee talking poorly of another employee.  Keep the conversation on what that team member can control and encourage them to meet/exceed their goals.  Give them the resources to do it.  Be there for them.  

Fifth, listen.  If you don’t, someone else will (i.e. HR, CEO).  Practice active listening.  Ask questions and then listen.  Take notes.  Follow up and follow through on what you hear.  Your team has a voice – listen to it.  

If you’re in a rough team environment, take heart.  You have what it takes to lead them out of it.  Keep short accounts with your team.  Don’t ignore bad behavior.  And by all means, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT your interactions with your team.  You’ll be glad you did.  

You are a team leader.  If your team is off track, lead them back on it.  It won’t be easy.  But it’s your job, right?  You can do it.  

 

“Nothing will work unless you do.”  Maya Angelou

 

 

Doing & Being Anyway…by Jim Johnson

You know these people at work. They live under the radar. But more than that, they get special recognition and even rewards for things they do when many others in the organization consistently are doing the same thing. They get promotions. They get or give themselves new titles. They undermine the company culture, but somehow they are seen as the “darlings” of the executives.

Truth: doing the right thing and being the right person does not guarantee you will win at work. You’ve been around long enough to know that life is not fair and sometimes, you end up on the short end of the deal.

Question: is living up to standards, achieving and exceeding goals, being professional and mature…is it all worth it?

Quick answer: YES! Refusing to live and act to the lowest common denominator is worth it! Doing the right thing and being the right person is always right.

It is not easy, but it’s worth it. You know that. I know that.

Being reasonable with unreasonable people is difficult.

Being certain in an uncertain work environment is difficult.

Living up to standards while others around you are trying to constantly redefine the standards to make sure their behaviors fit it…that is difficult.

While I’m not that old, I have learned some things about folks who seem to “get by” and get ahead for all the wrong reasons. It will not last forever. It won’t.

Doing the wrong thing and being the wrong person will create:

* the lack of trust from others. That leaves that person having to constantly look over their shoulder as alliances change.

* the lack of respect from others. They become a joke behind their backs.

* the manipulation of the numbers, goals, results (or at least the understanding of those things), and that will not last.

* isolation. The wrong people end up alone or with very few around them as other “followers” get tired of the games that get them no where. Followers don’t always win in these situations. It’s usually about the “wrong” leader getting ahead and no one else.

* a removal from power. When those around the wrong people have had enough, actions can be taken to remove that person from power.

The choice is yours. Do the right thing and be the right person. Looking in the mirror with no regrets is healthy and will lead to success. It will.

You are Your Own Business by Jim Johnson

You are your own business. I heard this from a favorite radio personality, Charly Butcher of WOWO radio. Have you ever thought of your job that way?

Most of us probably live our lives at work fairly passively. We do our jobs, and expect the paycheck. We get assignments, we’re assigned projects… we just do our jobs.

But what will set you apart from others at your office who have been living just like you?

It basically comes down to being actively involved in your job rather than being a passive participant.  What if you took a different approach to your job?

Look at you as your own business.

– Act as though the money you spend is your money. Will you use that resource the same?

– Protect your personal brand. Always be aware of your working relationships.  Pay attention to how you communicate and interact with others.

– Find efficiencies that will make you more effective and will allow you to bring more value.

– Increase sales and revenue. Businesses do not thrive if revenues disappear. Exceed your goals. Find new revenue streams. Understand which delivery channels are performing and which are not.

– Champion innovation. Read. Think. Experiment. Inquire. Try something new. Interact with other innovators.

Think about this idea. Try it. I think it can transform how you approach your work and will improve your results.

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Conquer! by Jim Johnson

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Last week my family and I were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One of the many activities we experienced was ziplining.  It was a first for every single one of our family members.

As we were preparing to head up to the zipline course, my wife and I talked about the concern we had for our youngest – my son, Karsten.  He has had a history of being afraid of trying something new – especially things that would challenge him directly.

But to our surprise, when it came time to head out on the course, Karsten stepped up to be first in line. He jumped off the first platform and flew down the zipline without any problems at all. Throughout the entire experience,  he was excited. I think he knew that he was actively conquering a fear.

I learned a lot from my 8 year old son that day. There are lots of times in life when we face new challenges and new experiences. But instead of standing petrified on a platform, many times it’s just better to jump and trust the mechanisms that you have in place and just go with it.

I told my son that he was a role model for me that day. He just smiled.

Truth be told, I think I was the one who was the most afraid of the experience. But I conquered my fear, jumped off the platform, and zipped to a new adventure.

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Do you have a “Mother, may I?” Culture? by Jim Johnson

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I recently heard John Stossel make the following statement concerning government:  “when we have a “mother, may I” government, innovation and creativity dies.”  He went on to say that when people are over-burdened with regulations, fewer and fewer people will fight the current to find a better way to do business.  This got me thinking…

Do you have a “Mother, may I?” culture at your company?

  • The staff is petrified to act in the best interest of your customers because they may “get in trouble” for acting first instead of asking first.
  • Your team comes to you constantly throughout the day to get permission to act, get involved, decide on ____________.
  • You have employees who’ve been in their positions for years and they have not generated a new idea, initiative, suggestion, etc.
  • Your team waits for you – the manager, VP, CEO – to decide what to do next.  Until then, nobody moves.

In 2008, I spoke at a national credit union conference at Disney World.  One of the keynote speakers was the former CEO of Mountain America Credit Union (Utah).  In his early days, he once observed teller interactions with members in the lobby of the main branch.  He stated that at almost every interaction, the tellers excused themselves, walked over to their manager’s office and then returned and finished the transaction.  After several interactions, he walked over to one of the tellers and asked why they continued to seek out the manager.  He was told that the manager had to approve almost anything a teller did.  He soon found out that this was happening all over the credit union.

“We had created a sluggish, ineffective bureaucracy here. I set out to change it.”  He did.  The credit union’s assets more than doubled under this man’s leadership in about 12 years.  They acquired several smaller credit unions.  Their business now spans 4 states.

So here’s the question for you:  How do you change from a company of “Mother, may I?” to one that empowers its staff to think, innovate, create, and serve your customers?

I’d love to read your thoughts.  Please share them!