Don’t Plan to Fail

Climbing The Great Wall of ChinaDecember is when we often reflect on the past year while setting goals for next year. I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I create a list of potential accomplishments and things to achieve throughout the year. This works okay, but I realize I need a detailed plan to achieve more.

On May 19, 2009 I wrote my first blog post… and finished the year with 4 posts. In 2010 I had a single post and 4 posts in 2011. The problem was that I didn’t have any real objective or detailed plan, consequently I was failing.

At the beginning of 2012 it was clear that I needed something more specific to work toward. I set a goal to publish 12 posts – 12 in ’12. This is the 12th post! I got a little behind during the year, but thanks to fellow co-worker Brandon Carter’s article Just Hit Publish, I felt encouraged to keep going.

The more I published the more I began to delve into the blogging community. This year two blog authors inspired and motivated me. One writes about travel, the other about leadership. I’ve found both to be amazing marketers and motivators. Hopefully they don’t mind me sharing their secrets.

  • The first is Lesley Carter of Bucket List Publications (not related to the previously mentioned Brandon Carter – at least not to my knowledge). Read her blog HERE.
    • Lesson Learned: Create a bucket list for the year, things you want to get done before the year dies. Write it down and share it with others. Thanks for sharing your 2012 Bucket List Lesley! Life truly is an adventure.

 

  • The second is Todd Nielsen, his former site was SliceOfLeadership.com. Read his blog and check out his new site HERE.
    • Lesson Learned: Create a success plan that helps you balance all aspects of your life. Develop lead measures, quantifiable goals and most importantly a reward. Reach out to Todd and I’m sure he’ll share his Personal Success Plan with you.

 

Interestingly both of these inspiration people focus an immense amount of time and energy helping other people fulfill their dreams and goals.

So how can you Plan to Succeed in 2013?

  1. Help Out – If you want to be successful, help other people find success!
  2. Plan it – Create a game plan that balances all aspects of your life – I’m always an advocate of Work Hard and Play Hard.
  3. Share it – By sharing you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable. It also allows people around you to be supportive and helpful.

 

Don’t plan at all and you risk setting yourself up for failure. I’m working on my 2013 plan now and will share it in the upcoming weeks.

 

 

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Leaders should connect & disconnect during the holidays

This week officially kicks off the holiday season. For most of us the holidays are a busy time both personally and professionally. The next six weeks are full of distractions, albeit some good ones. This past weekend as I started making some of our holiday plans I remembered two concepts that I blogged about earlier this year: Connecting and Disconnecting.

The holidays are a great time to do both. Use your time off to disconnect from the work and stress that goes along with being a business professional. Then use that time to reconnect with family and friends. Good leaders understand the value of this concept. Great leaders put it in practice and encourage their people to do the same.

Back to the Basics

The rule of Sharpen the Saw[i] is simple – when chopping down a tree, you have to stop sometimes to sharpen the blade. Taking the time to do so actually accomplishes the job quicker. The challenge is to discipline ourselves to stop and actually do it, understanding and believing that we’ll be more productive for having done so.

In a world of high speed communication and technology it is easy to get caught up in a search for the newest, latest and greatest idea. However, like sharpening the saw, every so often it’s good to stop, catch your breath and go back to the basics.

Here are three very elementary, yet often forgotten basics:

Listen

Think about the amount of time you do the talking? Talking to your customers, to your co-workers, talking to prospective clients, talking to your family, your spouse, your kids? Now, what percentage of time are you allowing them to talk, uninterrupted, while you just listening? By the way, you can’t listen 100% while looking at your iPhone, the computer screen, tablet or the TV.

If there’s one thing Social Media has surely taught us it is that people want to be heard. When a thought comes to mind instead of merely sharing it with the nearest person now I can blog, tweet, comment, and post a status update. Technology allows us to share, but we still want to be listened to, validated and feel we’ve been heard.

Listen more. Talk Less.

Learn

Learning involves understanding. Often understanding what is meant despite what is said. Learn from clients, customers, co-workers, friends or family. Find out what motivates, what excites, what fuels drive and passion, learn goals and long-term objectives. Learn what concerns there are, what help could be lent, and what needs exist. Sometimes after listening and learning, there’s no more to do. That might be enough. Other times you have something of value that can truly be of benefit. Offer help if you have real solutions. Be open and honest when you don’t.

Learning is about connecting with others.

Lead

Don’t wait around – Too often people are looking to see what everyone else is doing. Take a chance. Don’t be afraid to fail instead be afraid to have never tried in the first place. Having an official title at work doesn’t automatically make you’re a leader; likewise no formal title is require for you to lead others and show leadership qualities. Leading should be fun, selfless and with a purpose of helping.

Leading is doing.

So Now What…  

Well you read my blog which is a form of listening to me. Thank you, I really do appreciate it.

I am passionate about all things Brazil; I love the people, the language and the culture. At some point in my career I hope to work in an international role helping US companies do business in Brazil or helping Brazilian companies do business in the US. For readers who don’t personally know me, you’ve now learned something.

Finally, lead – well, you’re on your own there. That one is up to you!

 

 

Random last thought: When is the last time you literally chopped down a tree? The feel of the axe in hand, splitters flying from the trunk of the tree and watching it come crashing to the ground. Christmas is approaching. Ditch the overpriced tree lots; buy an inexpensive permit and go chop down a tree; it’ll be totally worth the experience.

 


[i] Coined by write Stephen R Covey

Blitz Day

November 1, 2012 is being designed a “Blitz Day” in our side of the office. Sales, operations, support staff and managers participate in this one-day office event that embraces the Work Hard, Play Hard mindset. The goal is to dedicate a day to a high-level of productivity by being extremely focus. This isn’t to say people don’t work hard and aren’t productive on other days; Blitz Day however is about taking it up a notch (or three). The problem is daily workload, multiple tasks and various projects often weigh us down. Meetings, emails, and task jumping make focusing difficult. Most of us have a variety of responsibilities that require our attention making it challenging to get things accomplished. Then there’s the issue of multitasking that can slow and even halt productivity all together (just ask author Dave Crenshaw).

Blitz Day is the opposite of taking a vacation, but can have the same effect. Vacation time should be used to relax, take a break and enjoy yourself. The effect is to regenerate and refresh. Blitz Day is a lot of work, but with an undistracted laser-like focus that allows a stretch goal to get completed that may otherwise take weeks. The sense of accomplishment is refreshing and energizing. A specific goal is set beforehand to define exactly what will be achieved on this day.

  • Example: A sales team might use the day exclusively for prospecting and making new decision maker presentations. This means no meetings or follow-up calls. It’s all about finding new prospective clients. The goal is quantifiable – something that can be measured.
  • Example: A manager might use the day to finalize all quarterly reports and knock out the first draft of new strategy he or she has been contemplating. Normally a few hours would be set aside over several weeks for this task, but it can all get completed it a single day with the right concentration.

Besides the main goal I have three Blitz Day sub-goals:

  1. Instill Work Hard / Play Hard Attitude
  • If everyone normally works at a fast speed, we’ll call it Mach 3 – then Blitz Day is about going Mach 5. Going Mach 5 for a day is exhilarating; doing it every day would burn people out.
  1. Build Team Unity through healthy competition
  • Set a goal that challenges the status quo. Whether several people are competing to do better than each other or an individual is competing against their own personal best – this is a day to instill healthy competition.
  1. Break the Routines and Daily Grind
  • We all get into routines. Routines bring familiarity and consistency to our work. Ditch it all – for a day! Cancel all meetings and minimize office emails. Use the out-of-office reply to let people know you’ll be in, but not checking email, just for a day. This alone makes Blitz Day worth it.
  • Bring in drinks and snacks throughout the day and provide lunch. This keeps people onsite, no need to run to Starbucks or to the gas station to grab a Coke. It also shows appreciation for the added effort people are putting in.

 

Preparation is crucial to success. Goals need to be determined in advance, meetings rescheduled, and notification sent to other divisions. Everyone participating should be part of the process. Employees should establish the goal so they’re committed and invested in achieving it. Managers should clear the path to minimize distraction and ensure success.

It sounds like all work and no play, where does the play come in? I’ll admit a Blitz Day is a lot of work – that should be the expectation. To infuse an aspect of play designate a few times throughout the day for everyone to take a break. I’m a big fan or Guy Fieri so we take a page from his show and play a couple Minute-to-Win-it games. These games are easy to set-up, quick to do and a ton of fun. It gets people off their chair, away from the desk or out of their office and gets the blood circulating. A bit of fun and humor is appreciated (by most people) and is quite therapeutic. Give the winner of each game something simple like a $10 iTunes card. Spent a bit more and you’ll see how a $25 restaurant certificate does wonders to get the competitive juices flowing.

Make the work itself fun by rewarding results. Throughout the day pay attention to accomplishments and achievements. Then, during the designated breaks recognize individual successes. Make it feel more valuable with gift cards and prizes – It doesn’t take much. Recognition combined with a feeling of self accomplishment is a powerful motivator. Make it public and make it positive!

When it’s all said and done everyone should feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Yes, it will be exhausting, but worth it.

At the time I post this, our Blitz Day has less than 2 hours left. People are still cranking thanks to a strong will to win and determination to succeed – and possibly fueled on by a steady flow of Rockstar Energy drinks, pizza and chocolate. My goal was to write a blog post about my Blitz Day concept and strategy – goal accomplished! And to ensure the rest of the team has a successful Blitz Day as well – we’re looking good so far!