For most of us reading this, we have no real problems. Sure, the washer broke, my kid is having issues, zoom meetings suck. There is always something we can complain about, but really, everyone should have our problems. Most of us reading this are blessed.
Over the last year, hope has been a necessity. We need to have hope; it drives us towards a better tomorrow, a brighter future.
But as we all know, hope unto itself is not a strategy.
When my children were 12 and 15, they lost their mother. During that time, I spent a lot of hours hoping my kids would be okay. After countless sleepless nights and days filled with worry, I felt my fog begin to lift and realized something – it was up to me to make sure that my kids were going to be okay. Being hopeful was necessary; it set the right tone and helped us to be positive and upbeat, but hope was only a piece of the puzzle we needed to get all of us to be more than just okay.
When it comes to business, how often do thoughts like these run through your mind?
- I hope business grows by 20% this year.
- I hope we attract the perfect candidate.
- I hope we hit our targets this year.
But there is obviously something missing from those statements. There is no strategy or tactics that lead to action.
When it came to my family, what we all needed was a plan and structure. Frankly, I had to implement a strategy that ensured all of the hopes I had for my children would come to fruition, instead of waiting for good things to happen. It didn’t happen overnight, but we got to a place where the pieces of the pie came together so that we could all begin to move forward to be happy and successful.
Business isn’t all that different from my family. There are a few key elements to balance our need for hope with a drive that moves things forward and aligns a strategy and tactics to develop our goals.
(Related: When One Idea is Better than a Dozen)
The right mindset matters more than you know. It plays a tremendous role in whether we succeed or fail. Let’s think about some of the different attitudes we encounter every day.
First, there’s the eternal optimist – “Good things will happen…and if they don’t, it’s cool!” They aren’t entirely in touch with reality and consequences. You’ve probably heard this referred to as magical thinking.
Then there’s our pessimist, Debbie Downer; no matter what, they expect the worst. When this is your mindset, you are never let down because you had such low expectations.
But how about the pragmatist? The person that does hope for the best but also anticipates and understands the challenges.
When it came to moving my kids forward, I think I managed to be all three, sometimes even in the same conversation. My goal was really to move to the point of being the pragmatist more often than not. It didn’t happen overnight and took some hard and emotional work, but we got there.
We are all one month into our 2021 business plans and no doubt, they are filled with tactics to meet your goals. Is it bringing on 25 new clients? Or maybe it’s growing your prospect pool. What mindset do you need to reach these goals? Don’t forget the mindset of your prospective new clients?
Considering mindset, we see it on all sides. How many of us have clients who are just like Eeyore – always looking glum, continually waiting for the other shoe to drop? Look at our peers; do you know someone who is continuously poised to blame someone else and shift all responsibility away from themselves?
And ourselves? As I said, I know I played all roles; how many of us do the same at work, sometimes moving through all three in one day?!
This mindset impacts everyone around us: family, friends, clients, staff, even people we don’t always know or see, but they hear us and can feel it. Things began to improve with my family when my mindset improved; when I decided to own the responsibility and get out of my funk and, more importantly, my own way.
Hope, in and of itself, is a positive state of being. Foster hope into a positive mindset. You can be a leader, and to do so successfully, you must challenge your thinking and perspective. Set the tone and lead. What’s important here is figuring out how to get to the middle if you tend towards negatives or blind optimism. You have people looking to you, and if all they see is Debbie Downer, it will infect your team. Learning to create a consistent atmosphere will benefit your whole team and goes a long way to establish a positive work experience.
No doubt, we all know how to look at a goal and develop a plan to get there. We want that perfect candidate to recruit for the skills, characteristics, and talent that fit that position. We don’t just throw the posting out into the ethos with a little hope that the right candidate gets lassoed into place.
Thinking about your current business plan, be sure to base those tactics on reality. If we want 20 new clients this year, but we achieved 7 this year, is that realistic? Unless our tactics include new staff, a particular marketing approach, and infrastructure to get there, it’s probably not.
Is one of your tactics a periodic review of your progress? It better be. No one wants to review the plan in September and realize that you would have hit those year-end numbers with some simple course corrections in March. It’s a whole lot easier to make small adjustments along the way than scrambling for a massive course-correction late in the game.
For my family, we made plans, and I asked for help. We talked about who needed support, whether it was rides to practice or help with algebra homework, and we figured out what we could do for each other to make sure we could do more than just function, but we could begin to flourish again. When something wasn’t working, we made simple, easy adjustments. Most importantly, we kept getting better.
What you do and how you behave matters. Think about how to set a hopeful atmosphere through tone, structure, and discipline. It’s up to you to make a conscious effort; it’s not enough to just go with the flow. People are always attracted to consistency, as well as an upbeat and happy atmosphere.
Take a moment to think about someone who has positively impacted you in this way. It could be a mentor, a coach, or a teacher. Consider what it was about that environment that allowed you to flourish. How can you do a better job of creating that environment for your team?
The people you engage with also have to able to see the human side of things. I know it’s hard, but you need to let them in at least a little bit. It’s not only acceptable to share some vulnerability; it’s an essential piece to developing genuine relationships with your colleagues. It’s a balance; no one likes extremes, whether it’s the eternal optimist or the ever-present pessimist. Share your concerns, talk through challenges, and develop and commit to your tactics.
I don’t think my kids would have trusted me if I’d flipped a switch, and I told them everything was always going to be okay. My goal was a happy environment, but I also made plenty of room for more complicated feelings. I based the actions I took to get there on structure and consistency. Coupled with stability and a plan, this added up to a genuine place of hope.
Review your actions regularly. What did you do this week to get to your goal? Did you exceed it? Excellent – do that 52 more weeks in a row. Did you miss the target? What do you need to adjust next week to succeed? It’s always about being responsible and accountable.
There is no doubt that sometimes you will fail – we all do. But we also succeed. Keep this in mind, stay upbeat, plan, execute, and repeat!
Here’s my parting thought: Today, my kids are doing well. They are happy, well-adjusted, hard-working adults. I always hoped this would be the outcome. But more importantly, I’m really proud of the hard work that we all put in to get here. When they face new challenges going forward, they should be able to look back on the growth and coping through their teenage years to tackle whatever is next.
There is no reason why your business can’t be as successful as my family. It’s kind of like a math problem: Hard work + preparation = luck. There’s no real magic in that one.
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