Park it

Have you ever felt that emotional, cloudy feeling in your brain when something seems so hard that you don’t know what to do next?

I have.

When the speaker makes the wrong assumption. Someone changes their mind. An agreement is broken.

Our mind can cope with only a few challenges at a time. In meetings, when more than 3 barriers are raised, notice how everyone’s confidence and constructiveness drops?

There’s a simple way to overcome this. Since our brains black out, it’s best to create a ‘parking lot’ on the whiteboard.

The parking lot is somewhere issues, blockers or cons can be stored and addressed at a later time. They are things raised during discussion, verbalised, noted and recorded.

Our brains love this. We don’t panic that they may be forgotten. We don’t stress about getting sidetracked. We don’t accuse people of hijacking the meeting.

When the time comes to go through the parking lot issues, you will find that the emotion has dispersed and once unpacked they are much easier to solve than previously thought.

The Parking lot technique is a simple way to keep meetings on track (and on time!) and to keep everyone focused on achieving the same thing. Try it!

Hitting singles – a path to success

home run

A home run is an incredible way to win the game. You risk it all on one big swing, hoping that night will be the night you single-handedly make the difference.

However most teams in the MLB this season average less than 1 home run per game. Usually, games are won by singles or doubles, accumulated over an inning – not a magical moment of individual brilliance.

So it is with our work or any pursuit we are trying to excel in. Undoubtedly, we dream of a home run each time we wake up in the morning, hoping that today will be the day the crowd finally witnesses our hidden talent.

Though instead of aiming to hit it out of the park each time, we should try to simply hit the ball first. Then, hit singles. Hit singles as consistently and reliably as anyone. Turn up, deliver what was promised, contribute, improve, share. Hit singles every time.

Eventually, you might even hit a home run. Yet until you are known as the person who is reliable, the one-off remarkable success will only be viewed as a fluke.

True success comes from mastering the basics, over and over again. This is a skill as rare as smashing it into the crowd.


Image: Werner Kunz

Process over tools

It’s easy to get sucked in by the latest tool, thinking it will solve a broken process.

In the 60’s, few would’ve imagined another way to advertise than through newspapers. It was the holy grail. If you weren’t there, you were nowhere.

Marketers and leaders still fall for it today. We make declarations like ‘everyone must advertise on Facebook, it’s the only way to reach your audience.’

The shiny new tool attempts to replace something more flawed in our business.

The reality is that if your team is comprised of good people, a solid process, and a remarkable product, your customers will do your advertising for you.

Smart people look beyond the latest tool and quickly see if can improve their process. Because that’s what technology is really for.

Try something

try something

The worst place to be is stagnant, afraid to make the next move. After failure, the next best thing to do is try again.

If we find ourselves second-guessing or holding back, we’ve already lost.

Success only comes to people when they try something over and over again, a slightly different attempt each time.

We learn. We build muscle memory. Change velocity. Wins are subconsciously enforced as good behaviour. Over time, we discover the right method or approach.

There’s no such thing as an overnight success, simply someone who has tried a thousand times.

Foot traffic

When a fruit shop owner is looking for somewhere to lease, they consider the positioning of the shop and how many people walk past each day.

The theory is that the more people walk past, the more exposure the shop receives and thereby the probability that someone will walk inside and purchase something.

Notice how many steps there are in that process?

Awareness
Consideration
Evaluation
Selection
Commitment

At least five opportunities for a lead to disappear.

It’s the same for a website, app, service, experience or relationship.

Making people aware you exist is only the first challenge. The rest of the purchase journey, or funnel in e-commerce terms, is just as at risk of leakage.

On the flip side, understanding where things go wrong at each of these steps presents a significant opportunity to improve your business.

Foot traffic, visitors, website visits and app downloads are only the beginning of the interaction. The rest is equally, if not more important.

Hitch a ride

hitchhiker
Life is full of trends. Like waves in the ocean, we can get swayed back and forth without realising it.

We know that the cycle of poverty is hard to break because there’s momentum behind generational unemployment.

Addictions are terrible because it’s not only the substance or behaviour, it’s the habitual repetition of that action that makes it hard to break.

On the positive, finding a mentor or boss with positive momentum can completely change your career or outlook on life.

Who will you hitch a ride with this year?

The big picture

The small issues can cause the most headaches, but have the least impact on results. Tensions escalate over a change of logo, where people sit and the dress code more often than they should.

It goes both ways, though, for those of us who want to make a big impact. Yes, we need to remember to focus on what really drives revenue. On what are the big hurdles stopping us from doubling our growth.

Equally, we need to acknowledge how important the ‘small’ things can be for others – and deal with them quickly.

Not to shoot the small stuff down, but to listen, act and encourage focus on the big picture.

5 minutes spent now explaining why that font was chosen, or offering to change it, could be an hour (or a week) saved of future productive time spent on things that matter.

I tried and failed

Life would be incredible boring if we knew what was going to happen next.

Failure is totally acceptable if you know why and how to avoid it next time. Actually, most of the things we try in business or life are not guaranteed.

Anxiety over the end result is worthless if you have answers for:

  1. How you approached the problem
  2. How you impacted the result
  3. Why you think you failed
  4. What you are going to do differently next time

Failure only happens when we can’t answer these questions, because then we haven’t tried to learn or care.

Understand the how before worrying about the what.

The expert of sharing

We see great leaders as experts in their fields. Visionaries of change and thought leaders defining the decades to come. The smartest, fastest or loudest.

Are they really that special, though? Are they that much braver than the rest of us? Of course not.

Great leaders gather people together and praise the latest ideas of others, steal like an artist and motivate the talented people in the group.

They aren’t always bright or talented.

So I want to propose something radical: leadership is an illusion.

Leaders aren’t the best in their niche. They’re the best persuaders, motivators and sharers.

They keep tabs on everyone that matters and distribute ideas that they know other people can convert into something great – with their influence.

Who are we sharing the best stuff with?

Who’s better equipped to make the changes we need to make?

What can we do today to be a better leader, not just a smarter expert?

Controllable

In any business, it’s easy to stress about the external factors that can bring us down.

It could be the economy, your customers, the industry or government. Things can go bad quickly.

However, many times we use these factors as excuses or as reasons to not invest as much time and effort into what we can control.

Sure, traffic to your site will fluctuate. Customers might out away their credit card in January.

But when the opposite happens, and it will, there will be no excuses as to why you didn’t take full advantage of it.

If the customer journey is broken, or illogical, sales will pass you by.

If we make the most of the uptrends, the down trends won’t hurt so much.