Cornerstones

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“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

–     Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019), American poet

Passive is no way to go through life.  And, passive isn’t the opposite of aggressive.  We can either engage, or we can coast — and I read Ms. Oliver’s intent here as wanting us to engage.  

Yesterday, we touched on rules — having as few as possible, and trusting people to make a difference.  But how?

Solid structures are built on bedrock-strong cornerstones.  Like these…

Change The Conversation.  Re-hashing the same old crap doesn’t move the needle.  Constantly seeking a fresh, or at least a different angle, raises the likelihood that we’ll be ahead of the curve, or at least ready for it when we it comes along.  Changing the conversation makes everyone in the conversation — and everyone affected by it — better; better prepared, better informed and better suited for what comes next.  We might really wish it was yesterday, six months ago or 20 years ago.  Too bad, because it ain’t.  And the conversation from yesterday is less relevant today and loses relevance with each passing minute.

Play Offense.  Talking heads on sports television love to say, “Defense wins championships.”  And sometimes it does.  But unless our plan is to “win” by a score of 0 – 0, we have to score points.  In business, playing offense means deciding.  It means acting with confidence, or at least courage (when confidence isn’t in ample supply).  Playing offense means we make the most of the advantages we have.  And, since I opened with the sports analogy here, if our defense happens to be our greatest advantage (Ries & Trout’s Marketing Warfare is a good primer…) then it’s actually playing offense if we force the other team to the teeth of our defense…just sayin’…

Commit to Being (and Actually Become) A Learning Organization.  Learning constantly means we never get old and our businesses never get obsolete.  Get deep with the team.  Gather data.  Analyze the crap out of it (not at the expense of deciding and acting, though!).  Dig for the “Why?” Learn every day.  Learn as leaders.  Learn as members of the team.  Learn as a team.  Constantly.  Without ceasing!

Honor Outcomes Over Processes (and Over Transactions).  You might be thinking, “Wait a second, Heston!  A transaction is an outcome.”  Technically, that’s true.  But unless we’re going to base our success on one day, one deal, one contract, one client — each transaction becomes part of something bigger.  You might be thinking, “Wait a second, Heston!  Without process, we’ll just be running willy nilly all over the place!”  I’m not suggesting that process is bad, unless and until it becomes the problem.  Processes don’t solve problems.  People solve problems by deciding and acting and honoring outcomes.  That’s how we improve our performance and our processes!  It requires planning, execution, evaluation, course-correction and keeping our eyes and our actions focused on the greater prize.  When difference makers think “outcome,” they’re thinking of leaving permanent evidence that they did more than simply visit this world.

We’ve all seen companies that ignore these four cornerstones.  I wonder if we’ll remember them when they’re gone?

 

 

 

 

 


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