Don't let a closed mind open the door to business failure.
Last month I was reminded of an essential tool for driving continued success and good business management...positive energy. It's difficult to leave our ‘comfort zone’ and accept the risk inherent with new opportunities. This is true in both professional and personal endeavors. Now buying a new brand of yogurt at the grocery may not qualify for daredevil status, but starting a new career or suggesting a major strategy change to the boss does present significant risk. These more demanding challenges are like climbing mountains...a lot of work and risk exposure.
And often stakeholders mindlessly default with a "No" rather than thoughtfully considering the possibility with a "Yes" when approached with the idea. The status quo can be a mesmerizing siren. Thankfully, we all have those supporters that trust our abilities and resolve. They have faith to climb the first mountain pitch with us. My wife is one of those people in my life. When I recently considered taking on the challenge of self-employment as a business consultant, she offered resounding support and encouragement. It galvanized my determination more than a 1,000 of my own bathroom mirror pep talks. A positive outlook makes the mountain seem less ominous and the path worth enduring.
The question we must ask ourselves everyday is, “Are WE positive enablers for others in our lives?”
As colleagues and business managers we should consciously leverage the power of the positive to benefit our coworkers. Major decision (like a strategy change) obviously require comprehensive vetting, but the positive impact of the endeavor should be given as much thought as risk avoidance. Every discussion should start with the question, “What’s possible if we succeed?” As JFK once said, "...Every American is made better off whenever any one of us is made better off. A rising tide raises all boats.”
As business leaders we need to see risk as a tool for growth and not as an enabler of failure. A leader that coddles the status quo provides a disservice to the organization. A leader than constantly begins with a “No” probably doesn’t trust his/her employees. Don’t we hire great people to make great decisions for the future?
Obviously, we can’t say ‘Yes’ to everything. We just need to consider all aspects of an opportunity to make truly informed decisions. Sometimes "No" is the right answer. An organization that can’t say “No” will climb 1 meter on 1,000 mountains with no measurable success rather than climb 1,000 meters on 1 mountain and reach a summit. But, an organization that can’t say “Yes” is doomed from the start. It will never even put on the hiking boots to begin a single mountain climb.
So, I'm making a concerted effort to be a better husband, colleague, leader and business consultant by beginning every analysis with, “Yes, let's explore the possibilities.” I think the outcomes will be pleasantly rewarding.
Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.
- Robert Heilein
OnTarget Strategy provides onsite business management and business strategy consultant services to organizations in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and the Colorado region. We also partner with clients across the United States and Canada.