In a year of “pivots,” it is often hard to look ahead too far. As I reflected on 2020, I was reminded of an encounter I had with a co-worker several years ago.
I walked into his office and asked him, “What are your plans for growth in the coming year?” He looked at me like I was from another planet.
It was mid-June and approaching the end of our fiscal year. The question threw him for a loop. He had been working so hard to end this year on a good note, that he had not even considered the coming “new” year.
After the shock of the question wore off, he came back to me and said, “To do better than we did this year — to make progress each and every month.”
This sounds like a noble goal doesn’t it? I wish I could say, “Yes.”
His answer was like that of many in the marketplace today. With so much uncertainty, it is easy to aim for “status quo, plus a little.”
While the response is understandable, it is also very dangerous. When a person or a business fails to strive for something great, mediocrity becomes the baseline. And many times, we fail to even reach that.
While we cannot set unreasonable or unattainable goals, we can put something out there that requires more than just “getting by” to attain. In fact, the more grandiose the goal, the more it will focus those trying to reach it.
In a study of what motivates employees, “being a part of something great or something that matters” ranked above monetary considerations. In fact, many employees in the study were more than willing to volunteer extra time if the cause was considered “great.”
So, if “greatness” motivates employees, the most important parts of our businesses, then what does mediocrity do? I think you probably know the answer to that.
As business owners and managers, we have a duty to ask more of ourselves and our employees than just “do your job.”
Certainly, we have to look at the realities of the marketplace and factor those realities in any plans or vision we might put forth. Risky behavior is not what I am advocating at all.
When we become so engrossed in the anxiety of things we cannot control, it can cripple us. We fail to make any decisions out of fear of making the wrong one.
Certainly, 2020 has been a year where reacting has taken the place of planning and executing. But that has to end now.
I encourage you to take a step back from the day-to-day worries and duties of your profession and think, if for just a moment, “what great thing can we do this year?”
I assure you that it will not only help you focus on greatness, it will also raise your spirits.
David Specht | President of Specht Newspapers, Inc.