Feedback Is The Fuel Of Champions

Your Feedback Matters placard with bokeh backgroundFeedback is the success fuel of winners and champions

Have you noticed how some managers are able to provide their people with feedback in a constructive way? The feedback they provide, positive and negative alike, is taken fully on board and their individual staff members and teams thrive and prosper. Their departments and areas are more productive, more constructive and generally have more engaged employees within them. If you have never experienced it yourself, it can appear to be nothing short of miraculous.

Well delivered constructive feedback fuels their success engines like gasoline fuels a car engine.

I’m sure you will also have noticed how some managers deliver feedback so poorly they create nothing but misery and chaos. They would be better off saying nothing in fact.

If you have been on the receiving end of poorly delivered managerial feedback you will know how much misery and pain it can cause. I have witnessed some managers leaving such a trail of emotional disaster in their wake it has brought whole departments full of previously high performing people to their knees. Whether it is delivered poorly by intention or otherwise is something of a moot point because the effect is always the same; unhappy and demotivated people.

Poorly delivered feedback can tear down staff morale faster than gasoline can help light a bonfire. It can crush people.

This article is the ninth part in my Success Formula series. Make sure you check out part one here if you have not already read it.

The eighth element in my success formula is termed feedback.

What exactly is feedback?

Feedback is the process by which a measure of an actual performance criteria is compared with some ideal performance criteria. That’s it. Humans receive feedback all the time. We get it from the environment, other creatures and other humans. Humans  project a steady stream of information out to the world all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not. The data and information we give and receive can verbal and non-verbal.

Feedback is data. That is all it is. When humans provide verbal feedback, it is often purely subjective. In other words, it is only an opinion. We can generally choose to act or not act on any given piece of verbal or non-verbal data provided to us by another human. For example, we can choose to ignore our doctor’s advice about giving up smoking.

Constructive or developmental feedback provides clues and ideas on how to make improvements in behaviour or performance. Destructive or critical feedback has the opposite effect and is to be avoided whenever possible. We can request feedback and  we can be asked for it. We can offer it regardless and we can have if thrust upon us unbidden.

For our purposes then, constructive feedback can be defined as intentionally delivered or specifically requested information, ideally delivered face to face, which enables the recipient to take useful corrective action, maintain or develop favourable situations and avoid unfavourable situations if they so choose.

Successful people crave feedback

Look online for information about the Johari Window model. It is fascinating and very well-documented, so I won’t reproduce anything here. The Johari Window model was devised by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham back in 1955. It essentially states we have four areas within us and these impact on our interactions with the wider world.

  1. An “open” area of which we are aware, and of which others are aware.
  2. A “hidden” area of which we are aware, but of which others are not aware.
  3. An “unknown” area of which we are unaware, and of which others are unaware.
  4. A “blind” area of which we are unaware, but of which others are aware

My point here is, obtaining feedback fills in our knowledge of the fourth or “blind” part of ourselves. The blind area shrinks accordingly. Exploring the Johari Window model is an interesting exercise for individuals and groups which you may like to try out.

If you choose to act on good information you can hugely improve your behaviours and performance. It is how all successful people learn and improve.

In fact, truly successful people crave feedback. If you want to become truly successful, then you’ll seek it out constantly. You won’t seek out just any old feedback though. If you’re smart, what you will seek out and crave will be high-quality information. High-quality information from the right people, at the right time and delivered to you in a direct no-nonsense style; warts and all.

Who to get feedback from

If you seek feedback from your biggest fans their responses will likely make you feel good, but you will get little in the way of constructive material you can work with to improve your situation or performance. Likewise, it’s not a great idea to approach your worst enemy about it either, for obvious reasons.

Get your feedback from people who will provide it effectively but who will also deliver it warts and all. The best people to ask are people whose opinion and impartiality you trust. They should be expert enough for the level of information you require. Importantly they should be happy with the prospect of helping you out. Test the waters first, as it is surprising how many times people simply assume someone will help. Get a third-party introduction if you don’t know them directly.

Be clear about why your asking them for the information or advice and give them an easy out. Nobody likes to feel painted into a corner. If they can’t help you ask for a recommendation and/or introduction to someone who can. I always find that being a bit cheeky is okay when you have a smile on your face.

When to get your feedback for best results

This is more of an art than a science. Knowing when to ask for feedback gets easier with practice but I can offer few pointers here.

Don’t ask too early in the process. It looks like you’re not trying and may simply want people to do it for you. You will also miss valuable learning opportunities. Don’t ask too late either because you may have made some major errors or omissions by then which could prove costly.

I recommend you do as much work as possible before you ask for help. When you have discovered a few clear sticking points, I suggest you dig even deeper yourself. Exhaust every avenue in your efforts to find your own answers. You will learn more, solve many of the issues anyway, earn more respect and receive higher quality feedback than you might have if you’d asked earlier. The feedback they give you will be more valuable and make more sense as well.

The right time to ask is when you have explored all you can on your own. Then make sure you ask the appropriate person for the level of response you require.

How to ask for feedback for best results

The answer here is to be as specific as possible. Be ultra-specific if you can.

It is very difficult to know where to begin when someone asks, “Tell me how I’m doing as a trainer?”

How much easier would it be if the question was, “Can you let me have some feedback on two key areas of my training presentation. One area is my vocal variety. How much tonal variation and tempo change was evident in my presentation? As an audience member, did it help with overall engagement? The second area is my positioning around the flipchart stand. Did you notice if I had my back to the audience for too long each time? Any additional points for improvement you may have would of course be most welcome. Thank you.”

The more specific you are then the higher-quality response you will get. Try it next time you ask.

When receiving your feedback try to remain neutral and don’t get defensive. This will take practice and willpower. Even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, stick with it calmly until the end. Say thank you then reflect on the information given to you after the event. There could be solid gold in amongst the not so valuable bits but getting defensive early on means you’ll never hear it.

By the way, if you get a reputation for being a bad receiver of feedback, people will stop providing it. Get a good reputation however, and you’ll keep benefitting from a wonderful resource. People talk, and reputations are important. Look after yours.

Try feeding feedback forward

If you have benefitted from high-quality and well-delivered constructive feedback, why not pass on the benefits to others?

Begin to work on improving your ability to provide high-quality developmental information. Model yourself on skilled practitioners and get their feedback on your feedback. What goes around comes around.

Having skill and confidence when providing feedback is a skill which can set you head and shoulders above your peers and colleagues.

Feedback is just someone’s opinion

As a big caveat, always bear in mind, someone’s feedback is just their opinion about something or someone else. There is no law which compels one person to accept or even recognise another person’s feedback. It is all down to personal choice.

Make sure you get enough of the high-quality feedback you need to help keep yourself on the right track. I wish you well on your journey.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Why not check out the other Success Formula series posts?

Success And A Success Formula For You

Reason Provides Your Driving Force

What Goal Are You Aiming At?

Measure It Right To Succeed

Strategy And Why You Need One

Knowledge Is Essential

Action Required Now

Work Smart Effectively

Work Smart Effectively

The hands of a blacksmith at work in the smithyWorking hard is hard work

Take a close look at any genuinely successful practitioner of anything worthwhile. Examine one who has been successful over time. You will find someone who has put in more than their fair share of hard work.

Whatever your goal, if you want to succeed in your chosen endeavour you should be aware of the need to work for that success. It doesn’t come easy. You must be prepared to put in the long hours and go the extra mile even when those around you are knocking off for the day.

Working hard is, well, hard work. There is no other way to describe it. You must have desire, discipline, energy and stamina. To be successful over time these things must be applied constantly.

This article is the eighth part in my Success Formula series. Make sure you check out part one here if you have not already read it.

The seventh element in my success formula is termed work.

Overnight success never lasts

I have noticed a growing tendency nowadays for people to desire, and even demand or expect, literal “overnight” success. This is an unrealistic and unsustainable approach. It is also a lazy approach. Even if someone does something spectacular or meaningful as a one-time event they often run out of steam. Once they find it takes continuous work to keep riding the wave, many people give up. The work required often gets hard because it gets difficult. They thought the one big effort would do the trick for them. Wrong. In my world true long-term success belongs to hard-working people.

We constantly see celebrities, rock stars or other media types in the various media channels. Because we are bombarded with these on a 24/7 basis we could think their success is the only success worth having. This leads to the “overnight” school of wishing and hoping for the one big break. It is likely true that all these people did indeed get a big break opportunity but dig deeper. If you do, you will find many who have put massive amounts of work into their careers.

We can’t all be famous celebrities, but including work in our own success formula will enable us to succeed in our goals.

Success means different things to different people because we are all unique. Diligent parents put in the hard yards to support their children. In-demand tradespeople ply their trade and grow their skills because that creates loyal customers. Successful students study hard so they pass their exams. Skillful writers write a lot. Painters paint. Athletes train. Singers sing. You get the idea. They may not get fame and fortune but, because they do the arduous work,  they do achieve success.

Hard work alone is not enough

Unfortunately, it is not enough just to work hard because life is more complicated than that. Hey, I don’t make the rules. I just follow them like everyone else. In fact, if work was enough it would be the only term in the formula. However, it isn’t the only term and for good reason.

I know of several people who failed despite their efforts. I’m sure you can come up with plenty of examples of hard-working people who came up short on their dreams. If you dig deeper, you’ll find those people did put in a lot of work but in the wrong areas. Perhaps they failed to include or work on the rest of the success formula elements? Did they keep solely to the areas they knew well at the expense of others? Could they have valued efficiency over effectiveness? There are many potential reasons for failure despite ample work.

Effective versus efficient

The terms efficient and effective are confused by many people because they often don’t know there is even a difference between the two. If they are different, which one should be considered first?

There is an enormous difference between the two terms.

Doing something more efficiently means doing it faster or perhaps with less materials and wastage. You get more for less.

The problem comes when you are becoming more efficient at the wrong things. You can put in a lot of work to make things more efficient. In this case, however, you will simply do more of the wrong things faster. You’ll get less for more.

The solution? You need to think in terms of effectiveness first. Something which is effective delivers the desired results and performance.

Get your systems and processes effective first, then work hard to make the effective systems more efficient.

Effectiveness should always come before efficiency.

Work smart and hard

“Work smart not hard,” I’m told but, for me, this is a lazy cop-out option. As the article title suggests, working smart, hard and effectively is key and, in my opinion, it’s the only way to go.

You must make sure you work hard on the right things to succeed. I wish you well on your journey.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Why not check out the other Success Formula series posts?

Success And A Success Formula For You

Reason Provides Your Driving Force

What Goal Are You Aiming At?

Measure It Right To Succeed

Strategy And Why You Need One

Knowledge Is Essential

Action Required Now

Feedback Is The Fuel Of Champions

Action Required Now

take action spaceshuttleWhy is action so important?

Action stations. This is the part where the rubber hits the road.

When planning for success, you can and should spend some time developing your big you’re your goal and your measures of success. In addition, you should rightly develop your strategies and identify any knowledge gaps you might have. You should do all the good things listed in the success formula but without acting all your planning will count for nothing.

Action means putting those plans into motion by taking a first step. Design a measure and use it. Create a strategy and follow it. If your knowledge is lacking, then take a course or hire an expert. Action means starting to do what needs to be done.

This article is the seventh part in my Success Formula series. Make sure you check out part one here if you have not already read it.

The sixth element in my success formula is termed, as you might have already spotted, action.

Are you already a natural action taker?

If this seems obvious to you then I salute you. You are probably one of life’s natural action takers. There are, however, too many people who plan and plan and plan again. They dream and visualise constantly. People who simply wish and hope and cross their fingers. Too many who trust to external higher powers to manifest their dreams. Perhaps the universe might help you out, but you must at least meet it halfway. These people achieve little and they get bitter and twisted; blaming life for dealing them a bad hand. As a coach, I hear this sorry tale so often it can depress me if I let it.

Too many people get stuck on a metaphorical start-line. The get ready, they get set but when the starter’s gun goes off they never go. Life is uncertain of course. You may not win your race no matter how fast you run. You may however gain much of value on the journey whether you win or not. What is certain, however, is you will never be in a race at all unless you start off and go. No action equals inaction which equals no success.

Action moves you from A to B

Action is what gets you from point A and moves you toward point B.

The road to Hell is, as they say, paved with good intentions. All the good intentions in the world won’t get you what you want unless you start to turn those intentions into action.

I must warn you, actions take effort. They are a form of work. As you will see in the next article, work is a hard but necessary component of success.

The thing with action is that the more you do it the easier it gets. Like lifting weights, you get used to doing it. Your action taking muscles grow and strengthen. In time you can raise the weight and take greater action steps to increase your action physique. Soon you’ll wonder why it ever seemed difficult and others will gaze in wonder at your new dynamism.

When should you act?

In my experience, you should act as soon as practicable. Don’t leap in where even an angel would fear to tread. Carry out your planning and perform your due diligence but once you are ready then act quickly. Don’t let perfectionism kill your momentum.

General George S Patton once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” I am not advocating you start violently executing anything, but his point is well made. Doing something good straight away is better than trying to make it perfect and never getting started.

If you like a roast dinner, there’s nothing better. It is delicious when piping hot and bursting with flavour fresh from the oven. However, it is far from pleasant when the veg is cold and the gravy has congealed. Actions are like this if you leave them too long. The moment has gone. The idea loses its appeal and the effort seems too great. If you do act now your heart won’t be in it. The moment has passed, and the ship has sailed.

You can always change tack

When you act and get moving, you can always change direction relatively easily once you are in motion. A boat won’t steer unless water is moving over its rudder surface. A parked car won’t change direction no matter how much you turn the steering wheel.

If you are pointing roughly where you want to go, you can make numerous adjustments to your course to reach your destination. That’s why action beats inaction every time.

No action is ever wasted

Take well-planned actions with a high chance of positive outcomes. Even if your actions led to less than ideal results there will always be something to gain from the experience.

You will always learn something when you act in some way or another. Action gives outcomes. You can compare outcomes to targets and adjust appropriately. This is feedback. Without action there is no feedback. I will cover feedback in the next article.

As a caveat, I don’t recommend being reckless or gung-ho but know this. Even if your chosen action proves ultimately terminal for you, rest assured someone else will learn from it. Someone had to eat the first mushroom or berry. Somebody had to pat the first lion on the head. One person had to pick up the first burning branch. You get the idea I’m sure.

Take no action and all you will learn about is lack of success.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Why not check out the other Success Formula series posts?

Success And A Success Formula For You

Reason Provides Your Driving Force

What Goal Are You Aiming At?

Measure It Right To Succeed

Strategy And Why You Need One

Knowledge Is Essential

Work Smart Effectively

Feedback Is The Fuel Of Champions

Knowledge Is Essential

Cute guinea pig in glasses with a book gaining knowledge

 

Knowledge

In my experience, knowledge is essential to your plan for success, but you can have too much of a good thing.

Even if your success is all about gaining knowledge itself, for example getting a PhD or becoming a professor, you will need additional supporting knowledge to help you get there.

You really do need a plan and you need knowledge

For a predictable success outcome, you need a plan and that plan requires you have knowledge about your route to success and the mechanisms you’ll use to achieve it.

This article is the sixth part in my Success Formula series. Make sure you check out part one here if you have not already read it.

The fifth element in my success formula is, as you might have already known, termed knowledge.

Why knowledge?

Imagine trying to complete a complicated and intricate jigsaw puzzle. Now imagine trying to complete that puzzle with no box lid picture to help you. Go further still and imagine trying to complete that puzzle in the dark. Try to imagine doing all this wearing boxing gloves in a high wind with rain pelting down whilst surrounded by ravenous wolves.

Okay, perhaps I went a bit far there. My point is, whenever you try and accomplish something you have limited knowledge about it the road to achieving success can feel just like the jigsaw scenario above.

Knowledge scares away the wolves and shields you from the wind and rain. It allows your fingers to feel and move the pieces. Having knowledge is like having light to illuminate the darkness. Knowledge can help you create your own “box lid” guide and to direct your completion of your own jigsaw. Am I waxing a little too lyrical? I don’t think so, because the importance of having enough knowledge cannot be overestimated.

I’m not here to tell you how to gain the knowledge you need. That is up to you as an individual. You will have your preferred methods for learning the things you need to learn.

What I want to talk about is the amount of knowledge you might need to feel comfortable and a workable plan to establish what that amount might be.

So, how much knowledge do you need to have to feel confident when approaching a project?

How do you know what you don’t know?

This can of course be a real stumbling block. How do you know what you don’t know?

You can try to stumble along and find the knowledge gaps as you go. This can be a frustrating and dis-heartening way of working. You can play catch-up for a while but sooner or later you hit a real show-stopping knowledge gap. The gumption and passion you had for your project simply drains away. I have tried this approach and I don’t recommend it.

You can also try and analyse every element of your proposed journey in advance and see exactly what you need to cover. You can then learn everything you need to know before you start. The problem with this plan is you will never actually start anything because there will always be something to learn. It is the route of the perfectionist and perfection does not exist in any practical sense. I have tried this approach too and I don’t recommend it either. If I’m hones, I love learning and must force myself not to go down this rabbit hole. I have a tendency to try and learn everything about everything and my poor old brain simply isn’t up to the task.

 

What about dumb luck?

I can almost hear people screaming at me through the internet, “What about dumb luck? I know loads of stupid people, with no apparent knowledge of anything, who are successful through sheer dumb luck.” I’ll have plenty to say about luck in a later article but as far as I am concerned it does not exist.

It is true, some people do well by dint of making a series of seemingly random choices which led them to become, at least in other people’s eyes, successful. Bear in mind we often judge others by our own criteria and not theirs. Who are we to say who is stupid or not. There are many kinds of intelligence which we will never understand ourselves but that does not mean the other person does not apply that intelligence to their success. They may also have simply operated in a genuinely random fashion throughout their lives.

What cannot be disputed is that, for whatever reason, they did make a series of good choices. Perhaps they chose to be in certain key places at certain critical times and they also chose to embrace the opportunities which were then presented to them.  Because of their choices they became successful.

You could try the same approach. It may work well for you but, because you are you and not them, the odds are against it.

Find the big gaps and fill them in

Knowing too little in advance is obviously a problem and knowing everything in advance is impractical. The key is finding a happy medium. To hit the sweet spot, I do recommend a “find the big gaps and deal with them” method.

One excellent way of seeing the big gaps when planning is to map out as many of the higher levels of the project as you can reasonably do using the mission, strategy and tactics approach which I covered in article 5 – read or revisit “Strategy And Why You Need One” before proceeding. Putting in some time and effort at the start will more than repay you in terms of output and results.

Using this straightforward approach and will allow you to identify your mission, choose your best strategies then outline your favoured tactics. Are there any obvious weak points or significant knowledge gaps in either your strategies or tactics?

Here’s how the options pan out

Based on the scenario, context, timescale and budget, you can then choose to go one of several ways:

  • Fill in your knowledge gaps through study or experimentation and tackle the weak elements yourself. Assuming you have an aptitude and an interest this solution can work well. It takes most effort on your part. It is most likely the cheapest solution but will probably take the longest time to complete.
  • Learn just enough about the weak element topic to get yourself started then use expert assistance as and when required. This is a compromise solution. You can gain enough knowledge to help you understand and work successfully with your expert and you will also increase your skillset and knowledge as the project progresses. It takes less effort on your part. You will likely get a shorter delivery time, but the overall cost will probably rise.
  • Outsource the complete task element to a third party. This is the hands-off approach and takes least effort on your part. The upside is, it should be the quickest route. The downsides are you generally don’t know what they are up to and things can go wrong because of your complete lack of information. It can also be very expensive, and you will learn little for next time. You might even become tightly tied in with and reliant on that third party due to your lack of knowledge.

knowledge time cost grid

Complete your due diligence

These routes all have pros and cons associated with them so always complete due diligence before any major decision as you would normally do. How critical is the project or plan? How much time and money do you have available? How much do you like learning new skills? How good are you at learning new skills? These are all important questions you must consider.

Using an example from my own business life, I taught myself to use the Adobe Muse web design package sufficiently well, via several Lynda.com courses, to create some working sites. What I don’t know much about is clever design and, much as I’d like to, I don’t have the time to become adept at design. It was a knowledge gap however, so I went for the middle option and paid for templates and design elements from professional online Muse developers. It’s a great compromise for me. I have what I need, and I can still learn as I go along.

It’s a Goldilocks scenario where knowledge is concerned. Not too little and not too much. Aim for just right and you’ll do fine.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Why not check out the other Success Formula series posts?

Success And A Success Formula For You

Reason Provides Your Driving Force

What Goal Are You Aiming At?

Measure It Right To Succeed

Strategy And Why You Need One

Action Required Now

Work Smart Effectively

Feedback Is The Fuel Of Champions

Strategy And Why You Need One

Chess. White board with chess figures on it. Plan of battle. Strategy.

Are you operating without a strategy or strategies? Are you operating on a “wing and a prayer” basis? There is a better way.

Do you have a clear idea about what the word strategy means and, more importantly, what it means to you? Is a strategy above tactics or is it below tactics and does it matter? Come to think of it, what the heck are tactics anyway? Don’t even mention mission statements.

This article is the fifth part in my Success Formula series. If you haven’t already read it why not check out the first article here?

The fourth element in my success formula is termed strategy.

Strategy defined

Let’s look at defining strategy, tactics and mission statements so you can begin to work more effectively in pursuit of your success goals. Many people associate complicated sounding ideas like strategies with faceless corporate entities. You however are not a faceless corporate entity. You are real warm-blooded human who is looking to succeed with life in general and in the various parts which make up your life, relationships and work.

For myself and my clients, the way I define all three terms is as follows:

  • Mission = Why you are doing something.
  • Strategy = What you are going to do to achieve that something
  • Tactics = How (+ when + where + who) you are going to achieve that something.

It looks simple and it really is simple. It is also powerful. In my experience, your strategies are the most crucial elements to get right.

Perhaps an example might help. Suppose you want to lose weight. You know all about great goal setting, so you select the positive and highly specific goal of losing 10 kg in three months. Great, that is now your mission.

If you decide to lose the weight by going to the gym, getting a personal trainer and starting a diet, then these three things have become your strategies for achieving your weight loss mission.

Selecting a gym, deciding on a weight-lifting program, finding and booking a personal trainer, getting new sports shoes and sorting out which specific diet to use are some of the many potential tactics you might use to achieve your three strategies.

So, you can have multiple strategies for one mission and multiple tactics for every strategy.

Why is strategy the important one?

In the weight loss example given above, the strategies you choose are critical to your success. Going to the gym has been a great strategy for many people over the years. If you are not a fan of the gym, however, then choosing the gym as one of your strategies will put you on the back foot straight away and you will almost certainly fail. Choose a weight loss strategy which will work for you. The tactics will then sort themselves out.

Just applying different and random tactics will not accomplish the mission.

Mission informs strategy. Strategy directs tactics. Strategy is vital.

Take the time to pick the best strategies for you because this will give you the best overall chance of success.

Nesting strategies

The next idea is one where people often get bogged down. Missions, strategies and tactics can all be nested. They can cascade from the top down. One person’s tactic will become someone else’s mission statement, depending on where they are in the organisation.

Here I will use an organisational example to illustrate this idea. Big Dream Industries develops a mission statement which states the organisation will be the, “Biggest dream manufacturer in the world.” The two strategies they choose to adopt are to buy up as many of their competitors as possible and double the output of every plant they currently own. Their tactics are to raise funding to buy competitors, start to invest in new equipment and make efficiency savings in existing plants.

All the above constitutes a top-level mission statement with top-level strategies and tactics. The tactic of raising funding to buy competitors would now be passed along to finance and development department and would in effect become their mission statement. They would then create strategies and tactics of their own to try and achieve their goal. The tactics they chose, for example wooing venture capitalists, would then become someone else’s mission statement, and so on and so forth.

cascading strategy diagram

Hopefully the diagram above helps make it sensible enough.

So what?

There is a very good reason why this nesting idea is important for you. You can start to design your mission, strategy and tactical plans on a modular basis with greater structural integrity right from the start, you can more easily review and identify weak areas and you can cope more confidently with setbacks.

Let’s look at an example of a setback and how you might deal with it.

You have set up your plans and goals carefully and hopefully you are continually monitoring the situation for any changes or issues. When things go off track in certain areas, as they inevitably will, the key factor is how you evaluate the disruption within the context of your top-level mission.

Three major social media (SM) platforms recently made substantial changes to their monetisation policies and algorithms: YouTube, Facebook & Instagram. Any of the major SM platforms can make changes and any can shut down completely in the future so let’s use a scenario like this for our example.

Suppose you have a business which relies heavily on lead and list generation to enable you to sell products to those leads you collect. One of the platforms you use is a popular SM platform, let’s call the SM platform FaceLinkInstaPinterTube or FLIPT for short. Over 30% of your leads come from FLIPT, but they have just gone belly up. You have invested a lot of time, effort and money into building up your FLIPT presence. How will you make up those missing leads? What are you going to do?

The power of strategy

Well, you could run around like a headless chicken screaming about how unfair life is. You could be crying about the imminent demise of your business. Or you could carefully examine your business mission breakdown. This would enable you to see the real impact and discover or design ways to improve the situation.

Your mission statement about world business domination is still intact. You had several strategies linked to this mission: Build an email list organically via blogging, build a FLIPT community and build communities on other SM platforms. You realise you have lost a complete lead collecting strategy; 30% of your lead generating capacity is gone. Your tactic for the remaining strategies has been to write some sporadic article posts on various blogs and reproduce your FLIPT method on several other SM platforms. It doesn’t look too good right now.

You have taken an uncomfortable hit in terms of lead loss but at least it is only 30%. Bear in mind, your competitors will also have been hit and hit hard by the collapse of FLIPT. What you do have right now is a clear insight into the structure of your business plan and the fact that it has an identical weakness built right into it. You really could lose it all if more platforms fold or change their business models. Your strategies are the issue.

You can now use this information to either beef up your existing strategies to make up the shortfall or add in several new strategies. Make some of the new strategies quick fix cash generators, and make some longer term strategies designed to make your business more robust and resistant to setbacks in the future.

Strategy summary

You really need to know why you are doing the thing you are doing so you then know what you are going to do to achieve that something which leads to how, when, where and with whom you are going to go about doing it all. In my experience, the “what you are going to do” or your strategy is the most important.

Remember, mission informs strategy. Strategy directs tactics. Strategy is vital.

Thinking in terms of nested and modular missions, strategies and tactics will give you and your plans huge flexibility and resilience.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Keep an eye out for the rest of the series. Why not click on the “follow” button and subscribe to the blog to get a reminder?

Why not check out the other Success Formula series posts?

Success And A Success Formula For You

Reason Provides Your Driving Force

What Goal Are You Aiming At?

Measure It Right To Succeed

Knowledge Is Essential

Action Required Now

Work Smart Effectively

Feedback Is The Fuel Of Champions

Measure It Right To Succeed

Measuring tapes metaphor for measure

 

How do you measure your success?

You have to have a way to measure your criteria for success and the measures must be meaningful and effective. failure to do this leads to the question, “How do you get where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re at?”

So, how do you measure your success?

Over the years, I have set a great many performance measures myself and I have been subject to many performance measures set for me by other people. Some have worked well but most, and I am almost embarrassed to report this, have failed miserably.

What is going on here? Am I some sort of uncontrollable maverick who plays by his own rules whilst giving no respect to authority? Probably the wrong hypothetical question to ask because that’s often what I am, and it might well explain why I now run my own business.

A better question might be, “Why did so few of the measures work as intended?”

Here is the third element in my success formula and I have termed it measure. I am going to encourage you to take great care when choosing what to measure and how you are measuring it on the road to your success.

This article is the fourth part in my Success Formula series. Make sure you check out part one here if you have not already read it.

Choose your measure carefully

Suppose you choose a success measure and inform everyone concerned that they are now working towards that measure. Whenever a measure is chosen it instantly becomes a focus point and most people begin to work toward achieving that measure. Great you say, because that is you wanted and expected to happen.

Suppose you are a business owner who wishes to minimise accidents within your organisation. You clearly place a limit on the acceptable number of accidents and you even invest in setting up a fancy new reporting and dashboarding system. If the accidents limit is breached, then the staff will all be penalised by a lowered year-end bonus. Great plan – save for the fact that the staff will now be less likely to mention accidents and far more likely to cover them up. The staff are working by the numbers and trying to achieve the good measures and protect their bonus. You believe your business is a very safe ship but if someone were to have an accident, or worse, which could not be hidden then the HSE inspector would probably disagree.

A more enlightened business would not punish accidents but rather seek to drastically reduce the chances of an accident. They might set a target for “near miss” or “potential for harm” reports. Perhaps they might put a simple system in place which allows for both reporting and recommendations for improvement. They could build such a target into the bonus scheme. People would look to place reports whenever possible. Sure, you might get some frivolous or pointless ones, but you will also get some golden ones which could literally mean the difference between life and death for your staff and your business.

Take care to measure correctly

My point is, you must take great care to measure performance effectively. This applies equally to personal measures and the measures you set for others.

To negate something, our brains must think about the something then apply the negation to it. For example, if I set myself a target of zero biscuits my intention would be to eat no biscuits however I find myself immediately thinking about biscuits to tell myself not to eat them. Inevitably, I end up eating biscuits because I am thinking about them.

We humans tend to focus and even fixate on the measurement target whether it put in a positive context or a negative context. The classic illustration of this is to challenge someone not to think of a bright blue floating tree. Go ahead and try it yourself.

A better trick is to set myself a target of only eating healthy things. This forces me to think about healthy things and, whenever the subject of biscuits comes up, I can more easily ignore the biscuits and eat an apple instead.

Sometimes you might set too vague a measure. Intangibles like happiness, fortune, wealth, beauty, etc… are wonderful aims but how will you know when they are achieved? You need to be very specific about what you mean by beauty or wealth. What will have to happen for you to feel beautiful? What does wealth really mean to you? These are slippery definitions at best. For example, you could spend vast amounts of resource on plastic surgery and gym memberships only to find the external beauty you create is not the inner beauty you are after. For another example, you could spend your life endlessly chasing money in the belief that lots of money will make you wealthy when your true definition of wealth is having a happy family who love you and each other deeply.

So, what is your measure of success?

So, what is your true measure of success? Is it a positive or negative measure? Perhaps you will have attained something or accumulated a desired amount of something? Is it wholly tangible or wholly intangible? Is it a mixture of both?

Take your time and choose your measure(s) wisely and you will hugely increase your prospects for gaining the success you seek.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

Keep an eye out for the rest of the series. Why not click on the “follow” button and subscribe to the blog to get a reminder?

Why not check out the other Success Formula series posts?

Success And A Success Formula For You

Reason Provides Your Driving Force

What Goal Are You Aiming At?

Strategy And Why You Need One

Knowledge Is Essential

Action Required Now

Work Smart Effectively

Feedback Is The Fuel Of Champions

Perspective shifts take you deeper

Sometimes, taking a different viewpoint or perspective can change your life.

I watched another short but fascinating video on the BBC News channel this morning.

Titled, “How I found out I was black,” it concerns Brazilian priest Brother David who had always believed he was white until a classroom game changed his perspective and indeed his whole direction in life.

It is well worth a watch and I’ve put the video link at the end for you.

Now, I am not about to begin analysing the wonderful and complex Brazilian multi-cultural melting pot. It is an incredibly diverse and vibrant part of the world and long may it continue.

What is interesting to me is the transformational aspect created when taking an unfamiliar perspective.

Brother David’s story

In this case the perspective shift was somewhat thrust upon Bro David. He had previously thought of himself as white and the whole experience appears to have been quite something for him. There will likely have been a complex whirl of emotions going on during the transformation, which started as a game conceived by some fellow students, and it subsequently led him to become an ardent supporter and champion of black rights and educational opportunity. Good for him I say.

Understanding others

One of the 4 key pillars of emotional intelligence is: understanding others.

It is an area many people dabble in and they can form a good understanding of the opinions, beliefs, values and feelings of other people but this is often only a superficial understanding. They then base decisions, relationships, negotiations, etc… on this superficial understanding. It’s a bit like reading a non-swimmer reading a book on swimming then jumping in at the deep end and expecting to front crawl like a champion.

Have you ever felt hard done by when judged by another? “They don’t even know the real me,” you say.

The real rewards are to be found at a much deeper level. There is an old saying about, “walking a mile in someone’s shoes,” before you make any judgements or decisions about that person. We can never truly know the whole story of course, unless we somehow become that person. We, however, can get a better picture than most by examining them from a distinct perspective; their perspective in fact.

Most people, myself included, are most comfortable viewing and experiencing the world from our perspective. It is generally termed the 1st person perspective.

The view of the other person concerned is known as the 2nd person perspective.

Give perspective shifting a try

Why not experiment a bit and stretch yourself by analysing situations, interactions and events from an unfamiliar perspective? What do you think the world looks like or sounds like from the 2nd person viewpoint? How do they feel? In what ways might their personal history impact their experience of the world? How might you appear to them? How might you sound to them? What might your words and gestures mean to them? How might they see the current situation from their perspective?

You will not necessarily be correct in your interpretations. In fact, you will most likely be wrong most of the time as we humans are not very good at mind-reading. What you will get a good handle on is the fact that people and situations are always far more complex and nuanced than we first believe. This knowledge will make you far more careful about judging other people and far more diligent in seeking to understand them more clearly and deeply through dialogue and shared experience.

Try this out with as many different people as you can. People you think you know well and people who are relative strangers to you.

It will not be easy at first, but give it some time and practice and you might find your interactions, and even relationships, with people improves markedly. You may well never think about yourself and your interactions with the world in a superficial way again.

Here is the BBC video link. Enjoy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-latin-america-42581913/how-i-found-out-i-was-black