Monthly Archives: July 2012
I like this use of a funny photo by Strategic Technology company, Gemini, based in Dublin – they’re a boutique IT company who have pride in being small! There’s a series of 6 clever photos on theire website – http://geminitech.ie/when-is-smaller-better/
‘You know what p****s me off the most?’, said Pat.
We were sitting in a meeting room at the large offices of a multi-national. Pat is a smart executive, well dressed in his 30’s, who has strong self-awareness and wants to make an impact in the world. He’s a great asset to any team – hard working, intelligent and innovative.
‘I joined this company believing they really wanted to make a difference in the world. I really thought they were different. But it was all BS.’
‘What do you mean?’, I replied.
‘They have a mission statement on the walls around the offices. It’s not real. Most of us don’t buy into it because we know the head people don’t . They run workshops with us about values, culture, vision and purpose. But the reality is that for all of the values they talk about – most of the leaders do the complete opposite – motivated by greed and self-interest. I’m completely disillusioned.’
This type of conversation is happening more and more.
There is a change in what people expect from their leaders. They are demanding more authenticity, and they want to be attached to a business that has more meaning.
For many companies, having clear values and a strong CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is more about marketing and ‘being seen’ to do the right thing. Yet people are getting tired of the illusion. Maybe it’s being caused by the breakdown in trust with our religious, political and economic leaders? Maybe there’s an increase in consciousness?
Whatever the reason, as someone who helps companies to create meaningful goals and cultures my experience is that we are facing into an explosion of genuine meaning.
People are craving what they have lost in their personal lives. Identity, meaning, purpose.
The natural replacement is the arena where we spend most of our waking time – work. Plus more and more, people on a personal level are asking themselves key questions. Questions like:
– What’s my purpose in the world?
– What do I want my legacy to be?
– How do I want to spend my life?
– What is genuine success to me (& not what others expect from me)?
And a side effect of this questioning is a growing intolerance for what they see as ‘BS’.
I was speaking with a senior executive connected to someone in one of the biggest brands in the world. They’d just left and come clean about the culture in this global entity. It sounded like bullies in the schoolyard, a culture based on fear, self-interest and maniacal obsession with profit – the complete opposite of what their marketing machine promotes.
Hearing that story has turned me off buying their products, because I don’t want to support that kind of machine.
And that’s a simple example of the power of genuine meaning. If it’s there, you’ll attract great help. But increasingly, if people get a sniff you’re ‘full of it’, they will leave the bus in droves. And with so much choice in the market today, it’ll be easier than ever.
A strategic advantage for the future is creating a business that genuinely lives by it’s values, it’s purpose, it’s vision. A business that deliberately seeks to create an environment where people can express their talent, in a way that connects them to meaningful impact. And also in a way that makes profit. Plenty of it. And genuine meaning at work should go hand in hand with profit. In the future, I believe it will be one of the keys to sustaining growing profits (& that’s for companies of all sizes).
Pat has since targetted a company that he thinks will fit with his values better.
‘I just hope it’s not all BS again!‘, he said.
Me too Pat, me too.
My last weekly e-mail was about the benefits of setting a big ‘moon’ type goal
I.e. one that will take years to accomplish, is not guaranteed but is very very exciting to the person/team pursuing it.
I often get asked from my experience, how do you know if you’re delusional?
i.e. how big do you go before you say, ‘that’s enough of that’?
Think of the x-factor contestant who can’t hold a tune but dreams of stardom.
We all know they’ll never get there but the penny hasn’t dropped for them….
Jedward anyone? But look at what’s happened there.
Out of interest, the Wright brothers were bicycle mechanics who had no engineering skills when they first started out trying to create a machine that would fly. Their friends thought they were delusional and actually tried to get them committed to a psychiatric hospital…
Marconi was considered a nutcase by many for believing that invisible radio waves could carry information from one place to another…
Everyone in Denzel Washington’s acting class laughed when he said he would one day win an Oscar…
Were these people deluded?
Here’s some of my thoughts on going for BIG goals:
1. It’s good for the mind to aim high.
It’s more exciting, it encourages innovation, it demands creativity where easy goals do not. The people who think big in our world are the ones who change it. A ‘moon’ type goal is vital to the long term growth of a person & also a company.
When done correctly it brings meaning where previously there was none.
2. Big goals grab hearts & minds.
When JFK set the goal of being the first country to ‘put a man on the moon before the decade is out.'(1960s), there was no guarantee they’d do it. But it focused the minds and hearts of over 500,000 people who were involved in the project. Big goals have a tendency to do that to people. They also help attract and retain great talent.
3. To avoid delusion watch the feedback closely.
Just because others say you won’t get there means nothing. However if you are not getting any signals or results that you’re in the right direction then you do need to pay attention to that. Delusional people don’t watch the feedback. Achievers do – relentlessly.
I’m sure Edison was motivated by early mini successes when trying to invent the electric light bulb. If he was getting nowhere I don’t think he would have stuck withe the 10,000 attempts…
4. Use the 50% Rule when deciding if you should go for it.
If you believe that you have at least a 50% chance in success then go for it. No-one ever has a 100% belief (other than the delusional & the people who set easy goals). Mini wins along the way will grow your belief. If it’s less than 50% on starting you probably won’t have sufficient stomach to stay they course and persist when the inevitable trials and obstacles come. Greater than 50%, my suggestion is that you’re in the right zone. After that it’s about playing success in your mind, watching the feedback and going for it regardless.
I’ve seen too many clients & friends achieve the impossible, by someone else’s terms, to know that aiming high is one of the secrets to a great business, a great relationship, a great anything. And most people in reality need just a dash of delusion, because their thinking is usually much too low i.e they only pick goals they know they’ll achieve.
5. Surround yourself with the best people but don’t always listen to them
If you work with the best, they will help you stay grounded, help you stay focused and help you keep it real. But sometimes they may say you’re delusional when you’re not. A client of mine just this week achieved something they’ve been working for over the past 2 years.
It’s very significant and to others was an impossible goal. At the last hurdle one of their key advisors told them they needed to lower their expectations. She refused to. She asked me for my opinion. I genuinely thought she’s achieved so much already that was previously impossible, she should stick to her guns.
She did. And on Wednesday she achieved her goal. I guess one person’s delusion can be another person’s moon landing.
Food for thought…