Like everyone else, I feel like sometimes I do a brilliant job, mostly I’m pretty good, and occasionally I’m plain lousy. But it never ceases to amaze me how, when I’m in control/in the zone/in the moment, how easily I can improve my own performance. And how I can get the best out of other people. Here’s an example.
I run the member services and learning event division of Henley Business School. We are always looking for new speakers to lead our events. And this week I met a really interesting one but, if I’d judged him on the first few minutes of our conversation, we wouldn’t be working together. First impressions were OK, but I was struggling to see how he would fit with what I do. It took quite a while before we made a connection and found an event angle he’s gone away to turn into a programme. And it’s going to be #distinctive and different, and I’m excited already!
Here were my learnings from this example. They are all about “finding the fabulous”.
- Accept that it’s your job to get the best from people. You’ve failed if you don’t, and life is so much more rewarding when you do.
- Ignore your first impressions, at least sometimes. Test whether you are right, by giving people the time to show their #value.
- Suspend disbelief (meaning putting aside your doubt or skepticism) for long enough to hear out someone’s story. Because eventually you’ll find a connection. And connected people create great ideas.
Maybe I’m smugly saying I did a great job with this guy. Or maybe he worked on me, until we found that great idea. I don’t know. And I don’t care. Either way we’re on to something. And it’s so motivating when you end up finding the fabulous. You wake up smiling at 05.00, and have to blog about it. And, for me, that’s a wonderful start to the day.
Here’s my #thoughtfortheday. Waking very early (insomnia, or an active brain, I’m never quite sure) I dimmed the ipad light and started looking for new books about #value and #success. You won’t be surprised to hear that there are definitely hundreds, and probably thousands. Even when I search for only those rated 4.5 stars and above (on Kindle), there are loads. Given that you’re not in a position to read as many business books as me ((big assumption, but it’s kind-of my job), let me tell you what I found.
Whilst the majority of authors are advocating some lifestyle changes, clever ways to generate ideas, and learning techniques for standing out, much of their work seems pretty complicated. Probably more importantly, each of the “best-rated” books seems to have at least one “golden nugget”; an idea that made me concentrate and really take notice. But there isn’t one place that curates all this brilliant knowledge, and maybe that’s a book for me to write.
But here’s what really stuck in my mind. Many of the books are of the “buy at the airport”, self-help variety. They focus on making you the best in the world. Maybe that’s what sells books, but I’m not much interested. Meritology’s approach is more earthy and gritty – we’re interested in how people #standout in their context, alongside their peers and against their competitors. And it’s all relative. Everything in life is relative, because we all look at things from different perspectives. Perspectives depend on background, experience, intentions and objectives.
In the world of being #standout, your #value and #success is measured against what’s around you. For example, if you’re a star in a team of average players then you’ll #standout. If you’re brilliant in an industry sector that doesn’t attract the best talent, your clients will love you (some personal experience coming out there). And if you’re the best on a given day, and at a significant time, then you’ll get the gig or the deal.
So don’t obsess about being the best. Focus on being the best you can be. If life is an athletics race, remember you only have to be a vest-breadth ahead of the other runners. It’s not always about breaking a world record.
OK, so a very simple point for today. I was just reflecting on a strange situation, where a colleague did something really daft. Stupid actually. After I’d recovered the situation, and apologised to the aggrieved party (she was wonderfully understanding), I pondered what to do next.
I decided to keep the matter private and within my team. To my mind, problems are best dealt with quietly. Discipline is best applied in-house. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It’s the way Alex Ferguson handled player-issues when manager of Manchester United. And there’s no doubt it worked wonderfully for him.
But I’ve seen lots of examples where people copy their boss into emails, tell the story to their peers, or tittle-tattle at the coffee machine. It’s motivated by naming, blaming and shaming the culprit. Or just having a laugh at somebody else’s expense. And it’s juvenile. The grown-up, adult way to respond is simply and without fuss. Tidy up the mess and move on. Remember that the way you handle tough situations defines whether you #standout for the right or wrong reasons. Be a low-grade gossip if you like. Or be a high-grade leader instead. You decide.