Almost 9 years ago, I published this, my first Blog post on WINNING IDEAS. As I work with students, mentees, and other business colleagues of late, I find myself reverting to various “Fundamentals” in our conversations, this one perhaps being the most important of all. Please enjoy and let me know what you think!
What does it take to be Successful? Everyone has an opinion on this for sure.
Success is Winning, and everyone loves Winning.
Having been a student and analyst of the subject of Success for over 40 years, I think I have boiled down the formula of what creates Success:
Each of the great thinkers and each successful person has their own personal take on what it takes to achieve success, but these are the 5 essential elements.
Of course, I left out a couple of other important elements like Serendipity, Luck, Sacrifice, Hard Work, and others, but I believe that these “sub elements” are a part of one of these 5 essential ingredients. For example, if you have a Burning Desire (passion), then you will make the sacrifices and work hard. Goal Setting includes goal review, and is the roadmap to the destination.
Courage is an interesting one and we don’t hear it mentioned often, but to me, Courage is all about taking action, and stepping up and going outside your comfort zone to make things happen. Without Courage, thought cannot easily be transformed into Action.
And what about luck? Well, the more persistent you are, the luckier you get. By never giving up and hanging in there, opportunities will inevitably come your way.
Persistence is my favorite, and I conclude this, my first ever Blog Post with my favorite quote:
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” – Winston Churchill
We use various forms of communication to inform, entertain or influence. Depending on intent and circumstance, we may use various technologies to send and receive. Voice, gestures, hand signs, smoke signals, radio, email. The availability of technology offers new ways to communicate that are offered as improvements in speed, cost and convenience. However, while the purpose of communication remains, new transmission mechanisms often alter effectiveness and outcomes.
Specifically, the advent of email, text and video formats have disrupted communication from bi- or multilateral to a one-way broadcast. Expectation of a reply is no longer assumed, expected or, in many cases, even desired. I want to say what I have to say to not just a specific person, but to anyone who will listen — or at least receive my message.
Just as standards make processes and products more efficient, communication protocols make communication more effective. Protocols exist in almost every industry and profession. They evolve over time to improve transactions.
But protocols don’t just involve technical, mechanical matters. They have to be used by everyone in the system. This means people have to appreciate their usefulness and use them. Just as Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (http) exists to facilitate standardized and efficient Internet communication, so too do social protocols facilitate interpersonal communication. If someone tried to set up a new Internet protocol, it would take time and effort to get people to adopt it, if they ever did. Similarly, using varying social and communication protocols would hinder, in some cases cripple, communication.
Argumentation is defined as the search for the truth (although the term has been somewhat corrupted lately to mean being disagreeable). Effective argumentation includes what is known as the burden of evidence (support what you say with presumably unassailable facts) and the burden of rejoinder (elevate the discussion when presented with facts by another).
This is what is being violated regularly, unwittingly at first and now possibly intentionally. It seems that social media only warrants a statement, unsupported by evidence when challenged, of one’s opinion. When challenged, the response is to attack, deflect or ignore. While not all discussions follow this pattern, one could draw the conclusion that social media is not a place to explore the truth. Argumentation has just become argument.
This is not miscommunication, where people do partially or wholly miss the meaning or intent of the message. This is more fundamental. It is the lack of desire by the sender for the recipient to respond. It is the lack of intent to participate as much as it is to send. How many people have asked to see a picture of what you had for breakfast? Are you expecting to engage in a dialog about it or are you just “letting people know?”
For purposes of this conversation, dancing refers to ballroom dancing. Two people are a team. Their activity requires cooperation and mutual intent.
They send messages through their eyes, voice and gentle pressure on hand, shoulder and back. Two well practiced partners (and they are called “partners” for a reason) move as one, each seeking to anticipate and respond to the other, in the interest of mutual understanding and enjoyment. Even a mishap can be accommodated easily by an attendant partner. The combination of two (or many) can be entertaining and inspiring.
Boxing is a contest between two adversaries, opponents, a challenger and a champ. The expectation of all who participate in, and observe, the contest is that one will win and the other will lose. Each has developed a plan to overwhelm the other. They trade punches with the desire that each punch will end the fight. Once the “knockout” has been delivered, the contest is over.
With such ease do we send a text, post a video or send a Tweet. We don’t even have to know who will receive our message, when they will get it or even if they will respond. And we are OK with this.
Can We Teach Boxers to Dance?
It has become easy to send a message without expecting a reply because we expect to be removed from an immediate social response. Without facial cues or body language, or immediate verbal/written response, there is no feedback that could effectively elevate the conversation.
We issue opinion, compliments or vitriol, sometimes not even knowing how our words will be received. Because of this disconnect, we often forget that we may have started a conversation. A conversation that might as easily be received as an invitation to argumentation as a sucker punch.
There is a difference between talking to an individual and to a crowd. Part of our challenge is to know the difference requirements in how we talk to each.
Another part is recognizing that our responsibility in a conversation is to assure our message is received as we intended, and that the conversation is beneficial to all parties.
I’d much rather interact with Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers on the dance floor (if they’d have me) than Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring. I’d also rather have a deeper and insightful conversation than lobbing, or receiving, insults.
Let’s all learn to dance better.
Mark Haas helps boards and executives create powerful strategies to help them make decisions with greater confidence, impact and pride. He helps companies and nonprofits develop strategies, create and validate business models, and execute with discipline. Mark is also an international trainer, facilitator and speaker in ethics, strategy and performance management.
In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss spends a good amount of space talking about time management and life management skills. A few weeks, ago I wrote a Blog Post about Tim and his book. I had a lot of reader interest, so I thought I’d follow up with another post on Tim’s philosophy.
The section entitled “The Best of the Blog” features one of Tim’s blog entries entitled “The Not-to-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now.” Here is his list with my comments in Italics:
1. Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers.I admit I do this, especially since I get a lot of phone solicitations from people I don’t know. If it’s important, the caller will leave you a voice mail, or try and reach you via email or other means. The key here is that you won’t be distracted by any calls from unknown callers.
2. Do not email first thing in the morning or last thing at night.Ferriss thinks the former “scrambles your priorities” for the day, and the latter causes insomnia. While I like to batch ,my email responses as much as possible, I actually prefer to check my email first thing in the morning, as well as late at night. I don’t seem to have any problem focusing on key priorities.
3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda and time.He also believes that no calls should take longer than 30 minutes. This is great if you can do it. Otherwise, I suggest setting expectations for topics and time at the very beginning of the call or meeting, and then stay on track as best as posible.
4. Do not let people ramble. Obvious.
5. Do not check e-mail constantly. “Batch” and check at set times only.Sometimes, you are expecting emails and responses from important team members or clients so it’s necessary to stay on email continually throughout the day. I agree that email can be a huge distraction, and a time suck, so try and do whatever you can to minimize wasted time and increase efficiency, including following this advice if it works for you.
6. Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers.Great advice and I will go even further and suggest that you should either terminate or restructure contracts with any low-profit and/or high-maintenance customers. A huge key to success is in having discipline in the kinds of customers you accept. Bad customers can put you out of business!
7. Do not work more to fix overwhelmingness – prioritize.Tim says that “the answer to overwhelmingness is not spinning more plates – or doing more- it’s defining the few things that can really fundamentally change your business and life.” I agre 100%.
8. Do not carry a cell phone or Crackberry 24/7.Tim thinks you should take one day per week off from cell phones and emails. Nice idea in concept, but the stark reality is that most businesspeople and business owners can’t afford to be out of touch.
9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should.Tim says, “Schedule life and defend iit the way you would an important business meeting.” This is not easy for a lot of workaholics I know, but it’s important to keep this in mind if you seek true work-life equilibrium.
I don’t think there’s anything earth shattering here, plus I am sure you have heard of some or most of these ideas in one form or another over the years. But it’s always good to think about tips like these to help you be more productive and focused.
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