Bob MacDonald on Business

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Thoughts to Carry Into the New Year and the Success You Resolve to Achieve

December 22nd, 2013 · 4 Comments · Building Better Business Managers, Business Management

Achieving success is more like fitting together the assorted pieces of a jigsaw puzzle than in searching for a single secret to success.

The advent of a new year is always the time when many resolve to achieve long-elusive goals. Such resolutions may be to lose weight, eat healthy and exercise, quit smoking, learn something new, be better organized, earn a promotion, get a new job or start a business. Despite the best of intentions, we all know that 99.9 percent of these resolutions will fade faster than a New Year’s hangover.

Even the best-intended resolutions fail because goals don’t just happen. Too often we fall into the trap of believing that just because we have identified and are serious about a specific aspiration, then achieving it will find a way to unfold before us. Disappointment and abandonment are the only assured results when resolutions are approached with this attitude. All too often people have this idea (hope, really) that “one bright-shinning idea” is going to magically, quickly and easily make them successful, rich and famous.

Sorry. It does not work that way. Realizing a personal, business or leadership goal is more like fitting together the myriad pieces of a jigsaw puzzle than it is in finding a single secret to success.

The Pieces are Laid Out Before You

If you have ever tried to piece together a jigsaw puzzle you know that it can be exceptionally frustrating and that it demands focus, commitment and patience. You have the big picture – the vision or goal – before you to work with, but also scattered before you are innumerable small pieces that individually seem insignificant and meaningless. And yet, each piece is critical to the ultimate success and the full picture does not emerge until each of these fragments has jigsawhandbeen used and carefully fitted together.

Achieving success in business and leadership is much the same process. We may have a vision of what we want to achieve to serve as a model, but we can also be overwhelmed and exasperated by the pieces of the success puzzle that can seem meaningless and inconsequential when seen as single elements. And yet, each piece is important and unless we have the focus, steadfastness and patience to fit the pieces together, success will remain elusive.

In that spirit and at a time of renewed resolutions, allow me to offer a few of the pieces that go into the makeup of a success puzzle. These are not all of the pieces and not any one of them will assure success, but rest assured that if they are properly fitted together, the chances for success as a leader or in business will come more and more into focus. Just as with a jigsaw puzzle these pieces are put before you in no particular order, but each one is important and it is up to you to figure out how to fit them together. And here they are; just fit the pieces together:

  • The future belongs to those who get there first.
    • Only by reminiscing about the future can you make the future.
    • You don’t win by being on a par with the competition, but by beating the competition.
      • Interests in parallel are always more powerful than interests in conflict.
        • If any problem or opportunity is broken down to simple steps that are simply taken, then big things will get done.
    • The real challenge facing those who seek to do the right thing is not doing the right thing for the moment – that is called expediency, but to have the courage to do the right thing for the long term – that is called principle.
  • The opportunity inherent in change can only be recognized by being instinctively dissatisfied with what most see as the only way, because it has always been done that way.
    • If others are not threatened by what you are doing, you are not doing enough.
      • The business world is designed to seek and demand conformity, not unorthodoxy.
        • Success is not achieved by submitting to conformity, but by forcing conformity to submit to change.
          • It is not the magnitude of mistakes, failures or transgressions that will confront an individual that will determine success or failure, but rather how they respond to them.
  • Most see what has been done and define progress as doing it better. Leaders learn from what has been done, but define progress as doing what has not been done.
    • The way to become immune to peer-pressure is not to chase the competition, but rather to become the competition by finding a better, more creative way to beat the competition.
      • Offering and engendering loyalty is the single most important concept a leader can implant in the culture of an organization.
        • Being ethical is doing the right things that are required to be done; Ethical leadership means doing the right things that are not required to be done.
  • There is no future in allowing others to control your future.
    • When a company views past success as a precursor of future success it exposes itself to failure when the future becomes different than the past – which is always the case.
      • Failure to consistently and candidly communicate with followers – especially in difficult times – creates only confusion, fear, apprehension and lack of trust in the leader.
        • The responsibility of a leader is to give others a reason to follow.
          • A well-run company is one that is designed to run just as well in bad times as it does in good times.
  • If the success of others is used to measure your success, you run the risk of limiting just how successful you can be.
    • Any weak leader can make simple things complicated; it takes a strong leader to make complicated things simple.
      • Many confuse success with the end of the road, when it is really only a sign that you are on the right road.
        • Success is threatened when those who benefited from the fact that the business environment is never static, begin to act as if it is.
          • Successful leaders begin to fail when they stop doing the things that made them successful in the first place.
  • More people rise from failure than survive success.
    • Success often boils down to doing the right thing at the right time and doing it first, fast and often.
      • You should never be surprised by your success, because if you are, you are not in control of your success.
        • Opportunity lives in the future, not in the past.
          • Commitment to the status quo shelters one from the difficult job of coming up with new ideas.
  • The only way to be unconventional is to challenge convention.
    • It is always easier to copy the past than it is to create the future.
      • Leadership without vision is no more than a car without a steering wheel.
        • A clearly presented and effectively communicated vision is what gives the leader a license to lead.
          • An effective leader defines what the business of an organization is about, but does not set the rules as to how the organization goes about its business.
  • Change is not the problem. The problem is the failure to recognize and respond to change.
    • To persist as a winner, an organization needs to work ever harder to retain success, than it did to achieve it.
      • No leader can predict the unexpected, but an effective leader does expect the unexpected and has in place a structure to deal with it.
        • Those with the ability to add value to an organization will be encouraged to do so when they are allowed to share in the value they help create.
          • Gaining the trust of followers comes down to the leader demonstrating that they trust the followers even more than they expect to be trusted by the followers.
            • If you are not making history, you are history.

And the Moral of the Story …

These thoughts are by no means all the pieces to the success puzzle, but hopefully they demonstrate how – as in a jigsaw puzzle – when these pieces are put together, they can create a wonderful picture of your success.

The good news is that all of us have the pieces to the success puzzle arrayed out before us. Hopefully we have the picture of what we want to achieve. If so, all we have to do is apply the patience, fortitude, focus and commitment to put the pieces all together. Doing so might be the best New Year’s resolution of all.

 

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