Posts tagged - morals

Organization is important

  • Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. ~ A.A. Milne

 

Yes, I just quoted the author of Winnie-the-Pooh. And he is right, which is both obvious and apparent, especially to those of us trying to stay organized. Let’s be honest, it is a constant struggle. You have your business life and your personal life. Some people keep separate calendars for each. Others are like me and keep one calendar for everything lest they miss anything.

And what works for me to stay organized and focused may not work for you, and vice versa. At home, I am having this challenge with my perpetually disorganized twelve year old daughter. At this point in time she fits the old saying “she would lose her head if it wasn’t attached.” In trying to advise her on organization, I have been speaking with her about what I do, and what others have told me they do, because I do not know what will work for her.

So, if you are not naturally organized, do you have a system? For instance, I use calendar reminders that are synced across my work and personal computers and devices, as well as using hand-written “to do” lists or lists I email to myself. What about you? Do you use a different method or combination of methods? Maybe certain software or an app?

As with most things, you should take time every so often to assess your state of organization….or lack thereof. Maybe you are reading this and realizing that your system or methods are failing you and you really are not as organized as you thought. If that is the case, you need to take action because disorganization leads to wasted time and lost money or opportunity. It could be forgetting to connect with the great lead you met last night at an event. Or it could be it causes you to have less time to spend with your family. Whatever it is in your life, disorganization is equivalent to loss.

Don’t let this happen to you. Take time to assess your level of organization. It might be working fine, or maybe it needs a tweak. Or maybe it needs an overhaul. If so, do it sooner than later because it will save you time and lead to time better spent personally and professionally.

And if you think you have a great system or method, please share it with me.

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Change Happens

What is hot tomorrow won’t be forever. Today’s styles and trends likely will have changed by this time next year, if not sooner. You can look no further than general music trends from the ’80’s through now.

Back then rock ruled. Think Queen, Led Zeppelin, etc. Then glam rock became big – think of Guns-n-Roses, Motley Crue and Poison – only to be kicked to the curb by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and grunge rock. After that there was the era of the boys bands, and now pop and rap rule the charts and airwaves. And what artists or bands are popular changes all the time. And always did.

The same happens in the fields we all are in. Change is constant. It may be because of technology, which generally impacts all of us. It may be like in law, where new cases are published by Courts all of the time changing or narrowing the law. Or maybe you are an accountant and deal with the ever-changing tax code. If you think about it and are honest with yourself, you probably can name what has changed in your business in the first half of 2017.

Change actually is what keeps things interesting. In our evolving world, either continually adapt or get out of the way of those of us who do.

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Blameless Problem Solving and Self-Accountability

No one likes to cause an issue, be wrong, be behind on a project or deal with the fallout. But part of blameless problem solving is self-accountability.

Self-accountability is the ability to be honest with yourself, as well as being answerable and responsible for what you say and do. To do so, when something goes wrong, you need to step out of the moment and consider consequences of how you respond. It means that after making an assessment of the situation, you are honest with yourself, honest with others and take responsibility for any part you played in causing or creating the situation.

Self-accountability comes into play in all situations, not just when problems arise. If someone who gave you a project to complete asks how it’s coming, you need to be honest even if it is not quite where it should be. Because of our culture, you should have the courage to tell the truth even when it is not what the other person wants or hopes to hear.

That is because inherent in blameless problem solving is trust. We all want our co-workers to trust us and vice versa. The expectation we all will have candor with each other rests on knowing that even the honest response someone doesn’t want to hear will be dealt with respectfully.

This doesn’t mean you don’t get to explain yourself. But leading with why something negative happened or a project isn’t complete will sound like an excuse and come off being defensive. Lead of with the issue, the status, whatever you need to communicate, honestly. There will be time to explain if necessary and appropriate.

I leave you with a quote on self-accountability I found that I like:

“The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.”

― Steve Maraboli

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Focus on doing good work, not money

You are saying “What? But I want to work to make money.” We all work to be able to support ourselves. What I mean is if you focus on doing the best you can, the money likely will follow. If you only focus on money you will try to close deals that shouldn’t close or sell something to someone that they don’t need. If you are okay with that and the bad karma you deserve, you should take a look in the mirror and see if you honestly  like what you see.

The point is we generally all are selling something, whether to consumers, other businesses or internally, such as at a large company. If you only are about the sale, you will lose in the long run and may never know. Sell someone something they don’t need or have them pay too much and it will come back to haunt you. As they say, do a good job and the person will tell a few people, but do a poor job and they will tell a lot of people. Reputation is everything and you should care what people are saying about you.

A smart person I know, who is in sales, told me long ago that by focusing on the deal being win-win, as opposed to forcing a deal that shouldn’t close, success has followed with exponential referrals over the years. And then the money follows with happy clients or customers who tell others and will come back to you in the future.

If you work the scorched earth policy of doing as much business as possible instead of doing good business well, you will lose both opportunities you will learn you lost and opportunities you will never know you lost.

If you do this the right way it will allow you to escalate the level and type of work and deals you work on. This will give you more choice in who you are dealing with and what you are working on. If you work in a larger company it will allow you to move up the food chain to greater options and opportunities.

Of course, with all of this should be more money. Remember that work is about fulfillment more than money. I know what some of you are thinking, that in your business there is no unseen financial upside to working better or harder. You may be right for your given situation, but if you are not into or passionate about your work, you will be empty and unsatisfied. In that case, find something else to do or your risk having a mediocre job and a unfulfilled, and possibly mediocre, life. But if you like what you do, there is no harm to focusing on doing your best and what is right. Try it and see what happens.

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In real life you shouldn’t be keeping score

Don’t be envious of others. Just because you think they have a better title or seem to have more money doesn’t mean it’s true. The person you view as a “higher up” may hate the position they are in. The person who seems to have money may be living on debt. Not making assumptions is a topic for another day.

Similarly, don’t be vindictive. Don’t try to get even. If you really analyze a situation where think doing so is the right course of action, the only one keeping score is you, and then you are the one losing, for sure. It take time to build a good reputation and mere moments to destroy it.

This goes to something I have mentioned before. Do your best at whatever it is you do and let what happens happen. But in doing so, do it in a way that is honest and you can look back with no regrets, because, if you don’t, the person you “run over” may be the vindictive sort. If that persons tries to get even it will waste your time and take your focus from the things you need to or would rather be focusing on.

Always look forward, not backward, to avoid getting mired in keeping score or settling scores.

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Be Informed

Everywhere I look these days people are arguing. At least it feels that way. About politics. About the environment. About issues big and small.

 

I have written before about how important it is to be an active listener. When I listen I hear a lot of people simply parroting what others say without any independent thought. Or worse, they are speaking about something they clearly have no idea about.

I see this professionally too. I have been in Court and watched opposing counsel simply quote the brief some younger attorney at their firm has written, but simply repeat what is in the brief instead of adding anything additional, which is what Courts are looking for at oral argument.

Being informed sounds easy, but it takes work. Learning about any topic in your work or personal life takes time. But doing so is investing in yourself. When you do you will speak from a place of authority or a position of knowledge.

Does this mean you will always come out better in an argument, or I will always win in court if I go the extra distance? Of course not, but it will bolster your reputation that you know what you speak about, as opposed to simply having an opinion or position you cannot actually support or defend.

And I am not encouraging arguing, but, instead, being able to defend a position or speak knowledgeably. If you do get in an argument or discussion, the goal should be to remain respectful while coming off as informed of that about which you speak.

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Stand For Something and Respect Opinions

Have a viewpoint. Stand for something. If you don’t, you stand for nothing at all.

We don’t have to agree with others all of the time. But when you don’t, be respectful. Agree to disagree. You learn more from dialogue with someone you don’t agree with than with someone you agree with.

Plus, none of us are right all of the time. If someone says something that makes you potentially rethink a position or opinion, take the time to think about it or research the matter. Always try to speak from a position of knowledge, i.e. if you don’t know about a particular topic, don’t speak like you do. Those who do will know you are full of hot air and it will harm your reputation.

So don’t have a slinky for a spine. And know to keep quiet on topics you don’t know about. It will allow the backbone you should have not to be snapped, along with your reputation.

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Always strive to improve yourself

You can do better. You can be better. Always. If you don’t think so you are only fooling yourself. You must invest in yourself.

If you put your money in a can and bury it in your backyard, it will earn nothing. If you invest these funds instead, they will have the chance to grow. The corollary is if you do not take the time to improve yourself, to learn, you will become stagnant and, in this fast-paced world, probably be passed by others. If you instead work to improve you will grow.

This also should involve improving in your given business or in your personal life. It can be class related to what you do or guitar lessons or for me, keep up with current legal opinions.

I know you are busy. I know you don’t think you have time. But the truth is you don’t have time not to invest in yourself. If nothing changes, well, you get thee idea.

So think about what you can do by investing in yourself. It not only can make you a better professional or person, it will help improve the world around you, your world.

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Credibility and Trustworthiness

Be honest; don’t lie. And say what you mean. This seems simple, but too many people have trouble with what are to me qualities that we shouldn’t have to strive for. I mean talk about a low bar: be honest and forthright. And be this way all the time to everyone you deal with. You want people to believe in you.

The alternative is being two faced and dishonest. Can anyone honestly say that is the reputation they want? I hope not, because reputation is everything. People remember.

If you do right by saying what you mean and being honest, people will know they can trust you. Trust and respect are the foundation for all meaningful relationships, whether professional or personal.

This is not something you want to take for granted. When the time comes for you to jump off a proverbial cliff, there will be more people there to catch you, i.e. help you get to where you want to go, if you are credible and trustworthy.

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Networking v. Connecting

Networking is about knowing more people. Connecting is about knowing people more. The distinction is obvious. You know a lot of people professionally and personally, but you are connected to only a fraction of those you know.

When you are at a business, social or charitable event, you likely will run into many people you know. But with many, you will know them “socially” or “professionally”, which is a way of saying you know them, who they are, but are not deeply connected with them and have no investment in their successes or failures.

I think a good example is a small town of say 1,000 people. In a small town, you are likely to know everyone else who lives there. At the same time, you will not be connected with 999 other people. Maybe you are connected with 40-70. This is because connection requires a deeper connection than simply meeting someone. It involves time, mutual respect and participation in the relationship by both people to become more than mere acquaintances.

Another good example is LinkedIn. I have 2,184 connections on LinkedIn. But it would be more truthful to say I am networked with 2,184 people because it is not possible for me to be connected to that many people. If I went through that list, maybe I am actually connected to 50 or 75 or 100 of those people, maybe more, but nowhere near 2,184. It’s just not possible.

True connections make up your community. People in communities care about their connections’ success and have a relationship built on mutual respect and trust, which have to be earned before someone in your network becomes an actual connection.

Once you have a connection, you are interested in transfer of knowledge and information and each other’s successes (and failures). When you reach this level you add another layer to the community you are building. So network with many to find the few solid people you want strengthen the foundation of your community and help you build the type of community you want to be a part of.

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