In this country, in these times, we have access to everything we need to be healthy, wealthy and wise. So … what’s getting in the way?
The stumbling blocks on the road to success are of your own creation. I’ve listed the most common ones below. Recognize any of them?
- Wishing and wanting. Do you have a written list of goals? When you write down what you want to be, do and have, you hurdle a big stumbling block. Mark Victor Hansen - the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul - suggests you compile a list of 101 goals, from mild to wild. Why not? Those who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Get going and get specific. Break the goals into monthly, weekly, daily to dos. Quit wanting things to be different. Make it different.
- Brainy guys get paralyzed. I love Bill Rosenberg, the founder of Dunkin’ Donuts, and Ray Kroc of McDonald’s. These guys … no offense, fellows … were not geniuses. Have you read their autobiographies? They were adequately intelligent. The smarter the person, the more likely he or she is to set up a stumbling block. The smart set can imagine so many ways that things can go wrong. They see every possible future sce-nario. They can see all the imperfections in a plan. So, they end up doing nothing. No plan is perfect enough. Sheesh. It’s called “paralysis by analysis.” Do you suffer from it? If so, dumb it down a little. Take action in light of uncertainty. Passion and enthusiasm trump smarts every day.
- Placing blame. Some blame the economy, or their customers, or their competitors. Stop already! What dif-ference does it make? Consider this: If the source of your problems is outside of your control, quit talking about it. Do what you can do. Form a plan of action and execute the plan. Assess your results, tweak the plan … and keep moving.
- Stating, and restating, and stating again … the problem. (This is also known as whining.) Picture your asso-ciation meeting. The biggest whiner will find a few other losers and start a pity party. Woe is me, woe is you. Refuse to participate in these conversations. No good comes of them. Find the most successful members of your group, not the least successful. Ask good questions and shut up and listen. How did they overcome their stum-bling blocks? Find out.
- Sloppy shop. The foundation of a focused, successful business is organization. Clean is all good. Sloppy is all bad. Not sure what to do to become more successful? Start by cleaning up. Throw out what you don’t need or could find elsewhere. Consider your office prime real estate; what needs to be close to you? Put projects in binders or file cabinets. Be selective about what goes up on the walls. Use frames and corkboards; no tape or pins should go directly in the sheetrock. Dust, mop and paint. Create a sanctuary in which you can create your finest work. I have no tolerance for a sloppy shop. No matter how tough times get, you can always clean it up. I have never seen a super-successful shop that was sloppy.
- Hunt for the “silver bullet.” There is no piece of information that is going to make everything all better. You know plenty. You know enough to be successful. Act on what you know. There is no item of technology that will make all the difference. There is no single marketing piece that will solve all your problems. Paul Re-vere rounded up the revolutionaries by riding on horseback from town to town shouting, “The British are com-ing!” Get moving. You can always upgrade your marketing vehicle later.
- Family, health and spirituality are more important. Success in your professional life and your personal life are not mutually exclusive events. Success in one area of your life can build success in other areas. Quit using this ex-cuse. Buddhist author Jack Kornfield said this in response to a question about spiritual practice and the rest of your life: “In time you will realize that all of your life is part of your practice.” You have enough time to devote to the most important areas of your life. Weed out the less important stuff.
- Denial is not a river in Egypt. Denial is when you know something but act as if you don’t. A friend called me for advice regarding an employee who is currently on workers’ comp leave. After a few minutes of com-plaining about this employee’s poor performance (and possible insurance fraud), he told me the employee was expected to return to work in a few weeks. “Wait a minute,” I said. “Do you WANT him back?” So often, we waste time on actions that are 100 percent counter to our goals and plans. It’s hard enough to make decisions when we don’t have much information. Don’t waste time on decisions you have already made. Wade through the denial.
- Wrong rewards. Do you keep score at your company? Do you track your employees’ sales performance? Ter-rific! Now, have you been tempted to tweak the rules of your bonus program to reward those who don’t sell but make contributions to the company? Knock it off. A sales bonus is for sales performance. Want to reward the in-stall team? Fine. Measure labor hours vs. hours bid on a job. Create a separate game. Reward the desired perform-ance. But don’t give a sales bonus to people who don’t sell. There is a dangerous trend in our society. It starts in school with the bastardization of competition. Somehow it’s not OK to win. Everybody has to get a trophy. Why? What’s wrong with not winning? We get to try, and try again. Competition is essential to humankind. You don’t have to teach it to people; we naturally keep score when we get together to work and play. Bonuses should be given on production above the goal. The idea is that if the employee helps the company win, the company can share the extra profits. When you get off track with your sales bonuses, you may find yourself paying bonuses while the company is losing money. Bonus time should be celebratory. If you feel resentful at bonus time, you have run into a stumbling block. Stop discounting sales by diluting the sales game. Play it straight and blast past that block.
- Fumbling family. When I work with my consulting clients, we set up an organizational chart. Organiza-tional charts are essential to your success. How nice to know what it is you are supposed to do, and to whom you are held accountable. Occasionally, when we have done this exercise, there is an employed family member “left over” after the org chart is filled. Oops. Now what? It’s just wrong to employ someone who is not making a real contribution to the team. You may think you are being nice. You’re not. You are committing someone to the rank of “loser” every day. Family or not, each person on your team needs to be the best possible person for the job. Fumbling family members have doomed too many businesses. Recognize this stumbling block and bravely do the right thing.
- Adding to instead of taking away. You won’t be successful doing more, more, more. Keep a time card for a week and jot down everything you do. How much TV do you watch? How much time do you spend discussing what you are going to do - instead of just doing it? How about Internet shopping, searching, or computer games? According to the “80/20 Rule,” you get 80 percent of your production from 20 percent of your efforts. This insight leads us to the all-time biggest stumbling block.
- We continue to do that which doesn’t work. Review your time card. Stop doing that which isn’t contribut-ing to the realization of your goals. Want to grow your company? If after five, 10, or 50 years, your company hasn’t grown, you might try doing things differently.