Make It Happen

 

It’s over? It seems as though the holidays just started. I hate it when the holiday season comes to a close, however, at least it’s less now than when I was a kid.  Back then it was such a big fall off the cliff of buildup and anticipation that started months before with the dream of some fabulous toy or gizmo that would make your life complete.  But here we are, and our anticipation now is for all of the possibilities of a new year.

What are you planning for 2017?  Have you set some goals?  Have you decided on that big change? Maybe it’s losing weight, getting more exercise, spending more time with family or myriad other possibilities but I think everybody has hopes of new beginnings at this time of year.

Here’s the thing though, as you ponder your hopes for next year, don’t go crazy and list a ton of stuff.  See if you can settle on one thing, one big thing that will truly add meaning to your life and hopefully the lives of those around you.  Define the actions you’ll take and find ways to keep track of whether you’re doing it and/or whether the change is making a difference.  Then do it, track it, and most importantly, celebrate every success.  Make real change in the New Year. Make this a year where you make it happen, feel no regret and make your goal.  No looking back, have a blessed and happy New Year celebration!

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A Lesson from Mr. Macy

Image result for miracle on 34th street macy

The holidays are truly upon us and it is such a glorious time of year.  I always look forward to it and my favorite thing of all is the way people seem to be truly friendlier and in a spirit of giving to others. I also like all of the old movies and things that are regularly shown, so many have become traditions.  For example, my favorite is It’s a Wonderful Life, my wife laughs at me because I have seen it at least 100 times but the holidays are simply not the holidays without it.

Another favorite is Miracle on 34th Street where a little girl brought up largely in an adult world where no play or imagination is encouraged is converted to a belief in Santa Claus.  It is a good story, especially today where we are desperate for more imagination or vision or even dreams for that matter.  Anyway, there is one scene that I particularly like where Mr. R.H. Macy, the head of Macy’s department store in New York, takes a seemingly crazy idea and runs with it.  The idea is to refer customers to other stores when Macy’s is out of stock or doesn’t carry an item.  Mr. Macy loves the idea because he wants people to think of Macy’s as the friendly store, the store that cares about customers more than they do about themselves.  He even places a catalog of his chief competitor, Gimbels, on a podium to help people find things they need.

What a great mentality! What if stores began to think of the customer’s best interests and started referring them to others when the need is simply something they can’t or don’t provide?  How would the business world change? It would mean a huge tidal shift from a “How can this customer help us?” mentality to a “How can we help you succeed regardless of our needs?” mentality. Isn’t this the real spirit of the season anyway, the best interests of others?

Let’s all take this big lesson to heart; how about we take the next few days to really consider what’s in the best interests of others first?  How about we take this season to think about how we could take that thinking into the next year?  How about we make this our dominant mentality, what would change at work, at home, at school, wherever?  Doing things in the best interests of others’ success, let’s make it a not only a theme for the season but a theme for life.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Book Review: The Outward Mindset

Image result for the outward mindsetI recently read The Outward Mindset by the Arbinger Institute.

The book begins by explaining that the key to long-lasting behavioral change is changing mindset.  Indeed, I myself have said many times that you cannot change behaviors without first changing the thinking behind them.

From there we are given some definition behind two competing mindsets, one, the inward mindset—a narrow-minded focus on self-centered goals and objectives – and two, the outward mindset – a  much wider view where we look to understand others in a more objective way.

Through a series of true stories and simple explanations, diagrams, and tools, The Outward Mindset gives individuals and organizations the recipe to make the change to this outward mindset that dramatically improves performance, spurs collaboration, and speeds innovation.

I found this book extremely relevant in these days of corporate scandals and growing narcissism. The Arbinger prescription involves bringing humility, empathy, and accountability into daily interactions with people both at work and at home. This might seem overly idealistic or even impossible but the authors provide simple tools and strategies, for example, consider one of the most useful tools known by the acronym SAM:

1. See the needs, objectives and challenges of others (the key to an outward mindset)
2. Adjust one’s work to become more helpful to others
3. Measure the impact of the behavior, and be accountable for that impact

The main assertion of the book is that by taking an outward mindset, one is more likely to consider the impact of actions and decisions on others, and thus treat others in a more humane way. This may seem pie in the sky and that there’s no way hardened business people for instance could ever make this leap, however, the book contains several compelling stories that make it clear that it is indeed very possible.  For example, there are a couple of stories from a Kansas City Police Department SWAT team that certainly illustrate how even the toughest among us can make these changes. If you want to get it from the source, check out this video of a TEDx talk given by Chip Huth, the police officer who led the change in Kansas City (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_29TS6jjsA).

This book is slim, very readable, and, in addition to careful explanations and simple diagrams, contains many moving stories.  I give it a very high recommendation.

I leave you with some words of the authors that give you an idea of the power in the message of the book…

“What can I do to be more helpful at work? What can I do to be more helpful at home? What can I do to be more helpful to those I know and to those I don’t? What can I do?”

Needless to say, this will be an important addition to your library if you’re interested in a better planet, workplace or home life.

Pay Attention…to everything!

recycling-can

Tuesday is recycling pick-up day, and we dutifully put out our recycling can each Monday night.

This past Tuesday, I was out early running an errand only to return to see my recycling can standing right in the middle of the entrance to my driveway.  This meant I had to pull into my neighbor’s driveway, walk back to mine and move the can out of the way.  Not that big of a deal mind you, but certainly an inconvenience.

Now what exactly ran through the mind of the person who did this, I am sure it wasn’t done spitefully or with bad intent, it just was done with no forethought, no consideration for what someone would need to do to simply pull their car into the driveway.  I know that to many this wouldn’t merit a blog post but I think it teaches a lesson for businesses everywhere.

Do your employees understand what your customers have to do after they purchase?  Are they trained in the entire customer experience, not just their particular portion of it; I mean the entire experience from awareness to product usage?  Have you and your employees thought about things from the customers’ viewpoint?  Have you considered what it’s like to open the box, pull out the product, plug it in, make it go, etc.?  How difficult is all of that, how difficult is it to figure things out as a customer?

You see, the person who deposited my recycling can in the middle of my driveway obviously had a limited view.  They did their job and that is all, the rest of the experience was off their radar.  In our businesses, we can’t afford that.  Attention to these details can make the difference between loyal customer advocates and detractors who spread bad impressions to the world.

A word to the wise here: Take a look at your customer experience from head to toe and ask yourself, is this easy or a pain?  If it’s a pain at any step, fix it; don’t make your customer drive to the neighbor’s to do what you should have done if you had been paying attention.