“Effort to the power of 1 (E1) typically satisfies the requirements of a role. E2+ leads to exponential results and opportunities”.

We are rarely forced to work extra hours, travel on the weekends, find and meet with mentors, network with customers instead of read a book/watching TV in a hotel room, come up with ideas/strategies for new products/markets, or to learn new skills/tactics that will help us excel and surpass where we are today.    The extra effort is a choice.  It is a tough, serious, and life changing choice, and just like any other choice of magnitude, the results only come through commitment to change in one’s life.  Just like losing weight, or shaking a bad habit, nothing will change unless there is permanent commitment.   The changes that we go through in life do not help in maintaining the extra level of effort, which is why the commitment has to be so strong.  However, extra effort without a balanced life style will leave us alone and depressed, so don’t confuse this message with “go become a work-aholic”.  For balance, the extra effort has to be spread all around. 

As an example, there is a certain person I know and idolize for his extra effort.  I have known him since high school.  He was the valedictorian of our class, super smart, and he got along with everyone.  Over the years I have seen him grow and excel while his responsibilities have been magnified.   The organization he works with would not be where it is today without him and his continuous choice to put forth the extra effort.   He recently had his first child and he is an awesome dad.  At first he looked absolutely exhausted, but has since made adjustments.  He gets up around 4:30AM to do some work from home, then who knows his schedule from there, but he is surely making time for his family while still getting everything else done.  He also makes time to take care of himself.  He has continued to be someone in the E2+ range.  To do so requires change as life changes, and continous change requires commitment.   He is a very successful father and husband, and there is no doubt that he will continue excelling in his career.  He spreads the extra effort all around.

The younger genrations have been dubbed with a sense of entitlement and there are all sorts of studies that talk about what we need to do to lead them.  However, hard work and extra effort come first.  The biggest mistake one can make is waiting to be given an opportunity before they will commit to the extra effort mentality, and it is not just the younger generation that is guilty of this.   We hear all the time “If **** happens, I will……”  or “When **** happends, I am going to……”   Leaders do not wait on anything to put forth the extra effort, and nor do those that make the commitment to ratchet up the effort in everything they do.  Those that wait typically believe they were never given an opportunity, and that is very unfortunate because the impact they could have had on themsleves and others is wasted.

At what exponential is your effort level?

“Think, plan, and inspect to win”

We all have the desire to win.  When it comes to business the competition is routinely ourselves and our goals first, and maybe a competitor or an industry second.   Regardless of the competition or the business, winning does not happen by chance or by us waiting for someone else to guide our hand to the finish line.  

Using our business (MCCi) as an example, two to three months before the beginning of each new budget year we put emphasis on thinking about the new year ahead, what our goals should be, etc..  Two months out we start putting our plans together.  The overall plan is made up of a comprehensive budget, business plans from each sales person, and goals from each Leader/Manager in the organization.  The last part is inspection and it is the hardest, but it is what keeps us on track and ensures things are getting done.  Budgets, plans, and/or goals have no purpose unless they are inspected periodically. 

Inspecting performance makes most people uncomfortable.  They think the purpose is to point out everything “bad” that is happening and to either beat themselves up or have a superior do so.  Sure that happens sometimes, but it only should if the situation calls for it.  Folks that really want to win think differently about inspection.  First, they are passionate about their goals.  Second, assessing where they are is a welcomed event and the best do it themselves prior to having to report to anyone else (We all report to someone, and when we do we should know more than anyone else about how we are doing).  Without inspection the following questions are not asked:  How are we doing?  What can we do to turn that area around?  Who do we know that can help us?  Is there something/someone that we should add to the team to help make a difference?  Is this particular goal still worth pursuing or should we be focused on something else?  What challenges are we seeing that we did not anticipate? etc..  These are not scary questions, they are actually exciting and are what moves us forward towards achieving results.  Not asking them is scary.

A reoccurring problem is that many people feel they have no one to hold them accountable.  Understandably, this becomes an excuse for not inspecting goals/plans periodically.   Well…. There are no excuses when it comes to Leadership.  Those that are caught in this trap must find someone to hold them accountable.  It can be a friend, a mentor (we should all have at least one), or if there is a superior that is not doing a good job holding us accountable we should let them know that we would like that to change.  And for leaders of organizations that feel this way, try building an advisory board made up of people that are looked up to and that will hold you accountable.  

How often should we inspect results, and what should be inspected?  A rule of thumb is no less than quarterly, and for the areas in need of special attention, they should be inspected as much as necessary.  For example, if the organization has a strong sales focus, then weekly sales meetings and monthly reviews with each sales team member makes sense.  The make up of the team should also be factored in.  If the team is made up of seasoned professionals then the level of inspection will be less volumous and the content will be more strategic than tactical.   In summary, there is no clear answer other than a strong opinion that inspection should happen, and that discussions, topics, and intervals should be geared to the specific needs of an organization.

Lastly, this is all hard work.  Creative thinking and hard work goes into the planning and goal setting process.   Discipline goes into inspecting for results afterwards.  What sets us apart as leaders is that we do both, while many never even set goals or put a plan together before starting a new business, organization, or just a new year in an existing organization.  Be proud of and confident in all the work that goes into the process.  And if you are getting ready for a new year, hopefully this message will be as timely as it is for our team.

“The timing of when information is shared is critical to the intent of involving others”

Involving others in new opportunities, problems, and ideas is extremely important.  The intent in sharing information is typically a soliciatation for help.  We want the feedback, creativity, and brainpower of every team member.  However, timing and our own preparation determines whether the intent stays in tact, or if it has the exact opposite effect and causes others to worry and become distracted.   People typically equate change to a negative event, even when the outcome has a high potential to be positive.   The first reaction of most is to worry and question.  This reaction can be a good thing when the timing is right – which is once we have done all the pre-qualifying.  We actually want our team members to think like we have not, put forth new ideas, and to provide added value by exposing risks and additional questions we have not yet thought to ask.   

So how do we pre-qualify?  We should ask ourselves a few questions before involving others, such as:  Do we know enough to involve others yet?;  Will the outcome effect them enough to warrant the distraction and potential cause for concern?; Is this a real opportunity/problem that others need to be involved with?; etc.  A good test for when it is time to involve others is to prequalify by asking these questions, and to have thought through things enough so that we already anticipate what the feedback will be.   If we are prepared the meetings and feedback are much more powerful because we can move past the anticipated feedback and challenge each other to ask the questions that have not been asked.  

Another way to think of this concept is “Brainpower Conservation”.  We do not leave lights on in our house when there is no one home, and neither should we ask others to stop what they are doing and focus on something else until we have done the work and put forth the thought to make the timing right.

“When faced with new challenges, the quickest and most reliable method for success is to fully embrace simple ideas and proven concepts”

When I was preparing for college, I intended to get a job and help pay my way.  I had scholarships and received some other meal and lodging perks by living in a fraternity house, so the financial burden I was creating for myself and my parents was not substantial compared to others.   I always worked during the summers and took summer classes (a lighter load of classes), but I felt I could help pay my way during the fall and spring semesters as well.  At this point my father spoke up and said “I want to make a deal with you….. I would rather you focus on school and get good grades so that you have the best options after college.  If you will treat every day like a job, which means regardless of when you have classes, you go to campus from 8-5 and either go to class, or go to the library and study, then I will cover the rest of your finances”.  He also let me know that if I did not come through on my end (if I received a GPA of 3.4 or lower) the deal was off. 

I took the offer, and most importantly I followed those simple instructions and it led to success.   The point behind the story is that my father knew I was somewhat smart and believed that if I put the time in I would have many options after graduation.  I trusted him, and focused on this concept all the way through college.  I never thought I could trick the system or that I would get lucky somehow and success would find me.   I chose to take the simple route, which is usually the toughest route – disciplined hard work.

In our careers and in our personal lives we can usually point to simple concepts and proven ways of getting things done.  If you want to get in better shape, eat better and work out.  Simple right?  Problem is that most of us try to trick the system and that is why the weight loss industry is a growing multi-billion dollar industry.   In business if we need to increase sales the best way to do it is to talk to more customers and build relationships.  This is where the focus should be and those that do it in the highest volume and with sincerity, will have the most success.  

Leaders are expected to be innovative when it makes sense, but we are also expected to be disciplined and efficient.   Which means our innovative efforts should be focused on new products, systems, and how we can improve serving customers.   And for those things that have already been proven, we must keep ourselves and the team focused on doing what is most effective.  Executing simple concepts requires discipline, hard work, and inspection, and going about it with a laser-like focus will lead to success more often than not.