Key Point: Get better at setting goals and achieving them. I continue to be amazed how many organizations and individuals struggle with accomplishing goals. This is connected to the challenge most of us face with procrastination issues. So what does the research say? And how might the Jerry Seinfeld method help us?
Some Experts and Research:
Tim Pychyl, a Carleton University psych prof and Founder of Procrastination Research Group in Ottawa, encourages us to make specific implementation intentions. Stop being vague.
An example of a vague goal is, “I want to eat less.”
An implementation intention however, is “I am putting a smaller plate on the table and eating only what’s on it.”
Teresa Amabile, a Harvard Business School administration professor, and co-author of The Progress Principle finds that we do better when making progress on meaningful goals. “The Progress Principle” involves setting up small wins to achieve and celebrate along the way.
Jerry Seinfeld’s Red X method was captured in the Lifehacker blog. When asked what made him a great comic, Seinfeld pointed out that comics need to write jokes every day. To help him, he put up a wall size calendar and slashed a red X through everyday he wrote. The goal was to never break the chain of red X ‘s. Seinfeld claims to have used the same method for achieving other goals too.
- Be absolutely honest and clear that the goal is meaningful to you. Decide that you must achieve it.
- Break it down to small and important steps. Celebrate progress along the way.
- Be very specific and intentional in combining a series of small wins leading to your aspirational goal. No vagueness!
- Use Seinfeld’s Red X method to keep the chain of continuous small wins in view. Keep the chain unbroken for as long as possible. It will become a habit.
- Remind yourself how good it feels to connect an unbroken chain of small wins. This sense of progress creates a positive environment.
Red X method in The Triangle,
Key Point: Search for a flat panel TV and one will get more than 30,000 results on Amazon alone. Now that’s competition. It’s stretching the metaphor a bit, but we are all to some extent like flat panels. How do we stand out above the crowd? Read on for a hint!
Michael Hyatt is a platform and social media phenomenon. He has more than 400,000 monthly visitors to his blog. His new book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is a “tour de force” on the subject. His message is that we need to make “wow” happen if we want to have an impact and rise above the crowd. Read and study the book to get the whole picture but the following highlights will hopefully prime the inspirational pump:
1. Take a stand for greatness! Don’t settle. When you decide the dream warrants it, play it out fully!
2. Have and connect with a vision. Become present to what you’re trying to create.
3. Remind yourself what’s at stake. Why is “this” (the vision) so important?
4. Listen to your heart. Our inner voice is a powerful driver. Being present with ourselves creates velocity.
5. Speak up! Give voice to your heart. If you don’t, who will? Go for what you deeply believe in.
6. Be stubborn. Believe in yourself. Mediocrity is natural and drifting with the current is normal… Perhaps that’s what you want? If so… That’s what you’ll get. There are lots of excuses to let yourself off the platform.
- We have one short lap around the pool of life. Somewhere, sometime, we need to challenge ourselves to have an impact and to create a “wow!” Have a vision and purpose and go for it. The other option is mediocrity.
- Take a stand for greatness! Take a stab at a “wow!” No excuses. It doesn’t have to be a “whale saving” event. It can be one event…one project…one relationship…. But after, bask in the glory of the “wow…” Not just for ego gratification but more importantly because of what the outcome meant to others.
- Start with one step. Ask yourself, “What would achieving this make possible to others? To you?” Forget about what people think…If they don’t like you… If you fail… So what? Really, just imagine it! Then start.
- When you are lying there in palliative care, hopefully after a long and gratifying life, you can smile and know you gave it a shot for greatness.
Above the Noise in The Triangle,
Key Point: Board of Directors (the recent financial meltdown in the U.S. notwithstanding) are usually wise, smart and accomplished. If you get a chance to listen to the questions they ask, you will learn a lot. These individual probes come from a place of experience. The reason board members ask them is because they have learned something important, often resulting in memorable scar tissue they still carry with them. Read on and I will share two areas or principles where smart board members really zero in.
I recently attended a major company’s board meeting. I loved listening and watching where and how that board managed a constructive inquisition. True to form, this very capable group put a spotlight on the following:
Principle No. 1: Where there is complexity, one usually finds cost and opportunity!
When management proposes something that is complex and difficult to understand, the antennae of knowledgeable board members’ usually buzz. They know that if they can’t “get it,” a lot of others won’t either. The unintended consequence of complex systems or processes is often extraordinary administration and that usually costs a lot in people, technology and capital. On the other hand, board members get excited when management is capable of taking the waste out of complexity. This usually means more margin if that activity has commercial value. The worldwide champion on reducing complexity into simple, almost beautiful elegance is of course Apple.
Principle No. 2: Cause and effect are not closely related in space and time.
This principle is well known by experienced board members. They understand that providing data does not equal problem resolution. Finding the real cause and true drivers of end results is one of the most challenging aspects of strong leadership. This is especially true with complex systems. When real catastrophes happen it is usually based on multiple, interconnected root causes. That’s why intensive investigation is necessary and finding the cause is hard work. The same is true when something is exceptionally better in value than what others are providing. The outcome of extraordinary value is often based on a connected system; all elements working optimally. That’s why sports teams can’t be excellent from just copying a playbook from another great team. There is more to being exceptionally better than just what’s in the playbook. It’s the end-to-end system that wins.
- Look for complexity in your work and personal life. Simplifying it will result in cost saving and/or a way to make more money (get better results). Just pick one thing and pilot it. When you hear somebody propose something that is too complex, don’t just assume you’re the only one that doesn’t get it. Trust your gut and really question where the simplicity might be. My guess is if you don’t “get it,” others don’t either.
- Learn how to get to root cause by using effective problem solving methodology. The Japanese scientists and engineers, who really developed the break-through total quality and lean systems, reinforced the five “whys?” They believe that if you ask the question “why?” after each response to a problem, you’re getting closer to the real root cause.
Be simple (yet elegant) in The Triangle,
Key Point: As promised here is my third and final blog regarding that glass of wine with the renowned Marshall Goldsmith. Feedback has merit when done well. Its limitation is that it is focused on the past and as we all know, nothing can be done about our past actions. Goldsmith encourages the clients he coaches (all big wig CEOs) to implement a concept called “feed forward.” This approach focuses on getting guidance on behavior and what the people you care about would like to see you do: More of? Less of? Start doing? Stop doing? If you want a simple process to try this, read on.
Let’s say your goal is to be a better leader. Identify a core group of people who care enough about you to be thoughtful, frank and really want to help you improve. Ideally this group would include a combination of peers, direct reports, and your boss. Ask each of those people for just ONE day to day leadership behavior they would suggest you adopt. Ideally, working on this would be actionable and specific. An example could be, “be more present and attentive when we have our one-on-one meetings.”
Collect the data from each person and say “thank you” for their suggestion. Do not judge the ideas given to you. Regardless of how helpful or not you think the comment is… Just say “thank you.”
When you get all the data, pick just ONE key thing you are honestly willing to commit to and execute on it.
Then get a progress report on how well you’re doing. Go back to the people you asked for “feed forward” help and check to see if they see behavior change in you. “Hey, remember when you suggested I be more present at one-on-ones? How am I doing? See any improvements?” If you have, keep building more “feed forward” goals. If not, you have work to do…
- Try a “feed forward” process ASAP. It works in the office AND at home. For example, “tell me one thing I could do to be a better Dad? Son? Daughter? Partner?”
- Remember to say, “thank you.” No passing judgment.
- Pick one thing, commit to the behavior until it becomes a good habit, and get a report card on that specific thing.
- Do it over and over… Evolve!
“Feed Forward” in The Triangle,