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"Class is an aura of confidence that is being sure without being cocky. Class has nothing to do with money. Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It's the sure-footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life."    -- Ann Landers 

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Forging Ahead in Unknown Territory

The previous blog (How to Outperform and Outlast the Competition) discussed the four primary reasons why people are resistant to change.  I would like to continue this line of thought with a visual.  If any of you have ever seen a bucket of live crabs, you know that when one of the crabs tries to climb out of the bucket, the other crabs pull him back in.  Something very similar happens to the people you are leaving behind as you look to make changes in your behavior.   You will start hearing:

-          What are you doing?

-          Why do you want to do that?

-          Stay here where you belong.

At some point additional obstacles may appear by the noise that you create in your own head.  You might hear yourself saying:

-          What am I thinking?

-          Can I really do this?

-          This is a lot harder than I thought.

-          Is it really worth it?

Between the noise from others and the noise from your own self-doubts and fear, these challenges become so great that many of us make a “u-turn” right back to where we started.  In order to avoid this detour, you need to muster the strength to carry out your purpose. Your success depends upon your dreams, goals, and vision being strong enough and deep enough to get you through the journey.


How to Outperform and Outlast the Competition

Regardless of the economic environment, most individuals are always looking for ways to outperform and outlast their competition.  How is this done?  Quite simply by embracing change.    Most of us have created an environment that is safe, comfortable, and predictable and where “change” is a much feared concept.   So, how is it that successful people are able forge ahead in unknown territory? They focus on overcoming the obstacles, fears, and doubts they encounter on their journey. 

To help you navigate your own journey here are four primary reasons why people are resistant to change.

1)      FEAR– it’s internal; it’s in our heads; you can say fear is False Emotions Appearing Real.

2)      EGO--the need to be right is a powerful human need.

3)      CONFLICT--when you try to leave the people and things that make you comfortable you can sometimes create conflict.  Depending upon the situation, most people do not like conflict; it is not fun, so they just avoid it all together.

4)      LACK OF PURPOSE--without a sense of purpose, people become stagnant, complacent, and burnt out. 

So ask yourself, which one of these reasons is holding you back the most and what can you do to change that?  The good news is you don’t have to take drastic measures to create change. However, you do have to do things differently.  I encourage you to examine yourself, your attitudes, and your habits. Change starts with you. If you want to have a different result, then change your way of thinking, doing so will enable you to outperform and outlast your competition.


Leaders of Today

Today, as a leader, you must make sure that your team is aligned. Be sure your employees are focused on accomplishing their goals, and that these goals are aligned with the Critical Success Factors. The Critical Success Factors are, in turn, aligned with the Mission and the Vision. There must be a relentless focus on performance and results, but that in and of itself is not enough.

If everyone is in alignment each step of the way, the organization will see amazing RESULTS. If there is misalignment, you will see inefficiencies, lack of focus, unproductive teams, conflict, turf wars, politics, and a host of other organizational ills.

An organization’s real competitive advantage comes from harnessing the will, commitment and EMOTION of their people. You must look at ways to not only create a compelling VISION that is in alignment to the individual action steps…but you must also create ways to positively impact the attitudes of everyone on your team.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, a nationwide survey asked employees what was most important to them. The answer wasn’t salary or wages. The top of the list wasn’t advancement opportunities or flexibility of work schedules either. It was open communication.


Creating a Compelling Vision- Mistakes to Avoid

The two common mistakes that companies make with regard to their vision that keep them from reaching their potential are (1) the failure to clearly articulate a vision and (2) the failure to communicate the vision effectively.

There’s another huge mistake that can derail all the efforts you may make to overcome the first two mistakes. It’s failing to make sure that all employees’ activities support and are in alignment with the vision. 

Once a compelling vision is developed the next step is to create a mission. The mission is the short-term view of the vision. What can be accomplished in the next year that will support the vision?  From there, you will want to determine the critical success factors. These are usually four to eight key factors that are both necessary and sufficient to realize your company’s Mission.   Then SMART goals (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistically High and Time Bound) should be set to meet the Critical Success Factors and then broken down into Action Steps that spell out who does what by when.

The big mistake that most companies make is that often the action steps of some goals are out of alignment with the Vision.

You see, your employees need to understand your expectations and receive your feedback. They need to understand the Vision and how their role plays a part in it.


How To Communicate A Compelling Vision

Once you’ve determined your vision, there are six key elements needed to effectively communicate it.

  • Keep it simple. Eliminate trite expressions, techno-gobble, or jargon.
  • Use metaphors, analogies and examples. Paint verbal pictures so people can picture and visualize where they are going.
  • Use multiple forums. Utilize big and small meetings, memos, articles, as well as formal and informal interactions.
  • Incorporate repetition. Ideas sink in deeply only after they have been heard many times.
  • Lead by example. Behavior must be consistent with the vision since we believe what we see more than what we hear.
  • Give and take. Two-way communication is always more powerful than one-way communication. Listen and be listened to. By listening, you may find out about a better route, a short cut on your journey.