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Personal development

Clean up your own back yard, before criticising others

It’s an easy path to take to criticise others when you are not doing well. However this always reflects poorly on you. I was reminded of this important lesson in a meeting recently where we were brainstorming and were asked to only look within the current year. I automatically only looked at the items that were within my sphere of control.

In a debrief after the session I realised I automatically look at only the things I can control, as beyond that the time and effort involved is significantly greater. My colleagues had a laundry list, very few were within the sphere of control.

Focusing on what you can control to create the right outcome is far more successful than being dependent on others. I use the analogy of a neglected back yard, the weeds are out of control and you cannot see the fence at the back of the yard. Focus on clearing up your yard, before looking over the fence at your neighbours and commenting on how neglected their garden is.

In a previous chapter of my career, I took on a underperforming sales team. I was constantly asked about what others were doing in other areas and always said, I have enough to sort out in my own backyard, that I don’t have the capacity or time to worry about everyone else’s.

That focus and strategy led to turning around an underperforming sales team. That focus has allowed my teams to flourish as we are always maximising what we have control of, instead of consuming time worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Dales Carnegie illustrates this lesson well in his How to win friends and influence people book, Chapter on don’t criticise, condemn and complain.

Categories
Personal development

Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success.

Often our opinions are not heard by leaders, whether bias, credibility or other reasons. In that moment when there is no acknowledgement or you are shot down or the conversation moves on to someone who is listened to far more than you, you know that you flogging a dead horse. One of my colleagues has a saying “put it in the drawer and dust it down in two years”. When she told me this, I was puzzled. The reason: when I don’t get heard I keep going in the hope the message will land. Repetition irritates others and hope is never a strategy, its better to take my colleagues advice and move on and put the suggestion in the drawer for another day.

Strong opinions are often based on bias, so we need to consider our first position as an initial hypothesis, until we uncover further information to develop an opinion. Source https://medium.com/@ameet/strong-opinions-weakly-held-a-framework-for-thinking-6530d417e364. We need to actively seek out contradictory information instead of clinging to an opinion.

In the words of John Gruber: Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success. The inference is not to cling to your original idea, decision, or forecast even in the face of contradictory information. In fact, actively seek the contradictory information — this provides you with data to iteratively improve the situation or forecast, until you get to the right answer.

If you have not disproved your original opinion, when the opportunity comes knocking, you dust down your opinion and off you go for round 2! However by now you may also have a greater groundswell of support and evidence, but what was implemented is not working.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink: the power of thinking without thinking , makes the argument that people frequently make some of their best decisions in mere seconds. We think without thinking, sizing up situations and determining how we feel about someone or something based not on voluminous new information, but rather on our accumulated experience.

The alternative is that other facts or information have emerged, which demonstrates your opinion or idea was ill informed and its time to well and truly move on. This is also a great personal learning to reflect on what bias created the strong opinion in the first place?

Categories
Personal development

Connecting with your peers and leaders

A common question I get asked is how to connect with peers and leaders in the business, when there is not the opportunity to meet with them in your daily work.

Here are three ways you can connect to a wider circle in your organisation:

1. Share insights, information that you know will be valuable to the receiver. An example is being close to the customers I get to hear what is happening in the market, trends, changes in leadership and more. With this information I would text my boss and bosses, so they knew what was going on. My team also do the same thing, as we work in frontline of sales. I also send a weekly update across the division and beyond as people ask to be added to the distribution. The update contains key information on what is happening in the team, whats in the news relative to the customers we manage, insights, key frustrations for customers and focus for the following week.

2. When you spot a problem, Don’t walk past it, thinking its not your area. Own the development of the problem statement along with interested peers. Set up a workshop to outline the problem and brainstorm solutions with people that are interested in resolving the issue. This is an opportunity to get a cross functional team across the problem. The owner of the solution always emerges. Phenomenal opportunity to work with an extended network in your company

3. Praise your colleagues and leaders by thanking them personally in a call, email and internal workplace. Be specific about what they have done and utilise the company values to call out the behaviour that supported the value, and ensure your include their boss and bosses boss if relevant . We all love to be praised, recognising others is a great way to connect with your colleagues and leaders. Also call out your boss or leader if they have done something that inspires you, helps you or just for caring. It’s important for them as it is for you to be valued.

Creating connection with others is critical to being successful. The wider the network the more effective you can be in your role.