Recently, I rode my new bicycle 21 miles on Martha's Vineyard. Now for some of you, that may not be a big deal, but for me this was an event. I'll admit, there were times that I watched the local bus go by (with bike racks) and thought to myself, " I should be on that bus." But instead, I kept peddling while telling myself, "You can do this. All you have to do is take it one mile at a time."
I know a lot of businesses who have decided to take the bus, with the hopes that they will ultimately reach their destination faster and in better condition than if they had slowed down a bit and gotten into fighting shape. They may have arrived at their destination first, but most won't be able to peddle in place and remain there because they are still carrying excess weight. In business, the finish line is always moving. Economic conditions change, competitors come and go and the needs of your business vary, depending on where you are in the business life cycle.
Here are some best practices from my most successful clients, who are in tip-top shape.
They are always in training mode
A day doesn't go by when they aren't thinking of what they can do to be stronger and more agile. They know that if they keep doing the right things, eventually they will achieve the results they desire.
They build on strengths
A 5 foot, 8 inch athlete recognizes his limitations. He may enjoy the game of basketball, but recognizes early on in the game that his career as a professional player is over before it begins. Instead, he focuses his attention on a sport like baseball, where he can excel. Stop trying to turn your best sales person into a manager. She is destined for much bigger things. Instead, give her the tools and coaching she needs to be the best sales person there is in the business.
They break goals down so they are achievable
If I had started my cycling day thinking I was going to peddle for 21 miles, I would have never gotten on my bike. Instead, I used the lessons that I learned in business to get me to the finish line. I broke up my ride into manageable distances and gave myself rewards along the way. Telling those in your organization that you expect them to double revenues this year creates the feeling of doom and gloom all around. But what if you were to tell them that your expectation is a 25 percent increase by mid-year and that you will re-evaluate what can be accomplished when you are mid-way through your ride? Breaking up long-term goals into achievable milestones allows people to shift their thinking from, "You can't be serious" to "Hey, let's get going!"
They celebrate successes
Every so often, my husband would tell me that I was doing a great job. At each milestone, we would celebrate my success with either a few quiet moments taking in the view or with an actual reward, like my new biking gloves. Taking the time to acknowledge small accomplishments can make a huge difference to those who are giving it their all. The moment of acknowledgment is what counts most. That's what keeps people going.
They invest in new equipment when needed
The last time I bought a bike was when hybrids were all the rage. That was over twenty years ago. Technology has changed and so has my body. Expecting to keep up with those around me, while riding a three speed, is next to impossible when everyone else has 21 gears to play with. When's the last time you replaced the PC's on people's desks? Are you asking them to process work at lighting speed, while they are waiting for their computers to catch up with their minds?
They shed the excess weight
There is nothing that slows you down more than excess weight. This hold true in life and in business. On my bike ride, I was being passed by women who were ten years older than me, as well as ten pounds lighter. Is your organization carrying people who are dragging you down? If so, then perhaps it's time to shed the excess weight.
They take action
I could have been pretty happy sitting on the beach at the end of our street and telling my spouse that I would ride with him another day. Yet I knew that another day would turn into yet another year. Are you doing the same? Are you delaying the inevitable? If you want to be successful, you have to take action today. Waiting another day may make tomorrow the last day you are in business.
They have a coach
The best athletes in the world have coaches. Why? Because they strive to be better and they know this can only occur if there is someone riding along side them to push them into greatness. The people who use coaches are usually the ones who are most successful. You see this at the gym and you see this in business. Don't you deserve to be part of this elite group?
Today is a day of rest for me as I take time to ponder my next move. I know that it's important to reflect and celebrate my accomplishments, before getting back on my bike and peddling full speed ahead.