We have all heard the saying about the "weakest link" There was even some crazy reality show with that title. The greatest illustration of how powerful the weakest link was told to me by an exceptionally successful entrepreneur, Ben Mangan.
Ben pulled out a few links of really heavy duty chain. He then went to another bag and pulled out a slightly lighter grade of chain. He each time he did this, he asked the audience if they would feel comfortable being supported by that chain if it were hooked to an elevator that they were suspended in 50 feet above the ground. He kept repeating the process until he pulled out a few links of a very thin chain (about the strength that you would find on a little child's home swing set).
"Now, how comfortable would you be if this were attached to the elevator car?" No hands went up.
"How about if we move it to the top of the shaft?" Still no hands.
"The rest of the chain is very heavy duty. All of you said you were completely comfortable with those chains holding you above the ground. What if we put the little chain in the middle of the linkage. That should balance everything out." Still no hands.
His illustration was crystal clear. Even though you have tremendous strength in most of the chain, you are only as strong as your weakest link. How does this translate into business? You may have an exceptional sales staff, service staff, and management team; but if your reception area is staffed by grumpy people, all of that strength is lost.
If you focus all of your time on training, but none on prospecting, that is your weakest link. My challenge to you is that you identify your "weakest link" in business and take steps right now to fix or remove it. Your results will be great!
I had the pleasure of speaking to several great groups recently. One of the things that a few audience members said was, "It's like someone told the public that it is OK to spend their money. Since then, our business has been booming!" There is no doubt that there are many sectors that are struggling right now. However, there are quite a few that are booming.
In my live programs I talk about the Reticular Activating System in the brain. It is a function that allows you to discern what to focus on and what to ignore. A good example of this is when you purchase a new car. You may or may not have noticed the car before, but after you buy it you see them everywhere! Perhaps you purchase a new outfit for an event that you are attending. When you get there "everyone" has it. (Ladies, you can relate to this:))
Are you focusing on what can be, or what can't. Do you fill your mind with negative news and gossip, or do you fill it with positive and motivating books, audios, and calls?
Pay direct attention to what IS going great, what opportunities CAN be there, and how you can grab a hold of it. It will take some effort, but everything worthwhile usually does...
We are all familiar with the story of the Titanic. Yes, it did hit an iceberg. Yes, quite a few people perished. However, what you may not realize is that what caused the Titanic to sink so quickly was not the large iceberg it hit; rather it was the shortcuts taken during the assembly. The rivets were of substandard quality and broke under pressure. The builder was trying to create three of the world's largest ships and was unable to get the quality that they normally require for such things. They also split their focus and were moving too quickly.
I have a great friend who is a builder. Colin Woods has created some of the nicest neighborhoods and dream homes in our area. He will tell customers the following, "You can have speed, price, and quality...pick two." You can't have the greatest quality if your job is rushed.
What are the rivets in your plan? What are the little things that you don't think make a big deal, but can. I follow the following with my business and life:
1. My assistant (Tamara) needs to not only be efficient, task worthy, and driven. She must also convey the right impression to clients and media when she is on the phone. I can't tell you how great it makes me feel when clients tell me that my assistant was so pleasant to deal with. Who is the director of first impressions for your business? They don't just answer the phone and greet people. They are the first impression of your business to anyone who meets with you.
2. I must have people in my life that hold me accountable to my outcomes. Notice that I did not say "goals". You always get an outcome. Some good, some unexpected. You don't always reach the "goal". Shelly keeps me on track with my fitness goals. Running is a priority for us, and sometimes it can be hard to keep that regimen going when we get busy or I'm on the road. Sunday was a rainy and cold day. It would have been perfect to just snuggle up on the sofa and watch movies. She had already ran 7 miles the day before but offered to ride her bike while I did my 4 miles. We had a blast! We were soaked and chilled when we came back and Branson met us at the door with dry towels; but we did it! Find people who will keep you accountable.
3. Take time to be thankful. It is real easy, especially when we are busy or stressed to forget about the gift that we all have called the present. Some of the things that I remind my self of every day to set the foundation for greatness include: health, family, friends, talents, abilities, etc. I can go on...
Download my "Shef's success diet" at www.theshef.com
I had a blast last night with my 11 year old, Alex and two of his buddies. At dinner, one of the kids was eating a jalapeno. Not a big deal, until he challenged the other two to do it as well. They did. Turned a bit red, and laughed when they were done.
That got me thinking...kids are willing to try unknown things (some good and some bad), but that is how they learn and grow. Many of us as adults tend to shy away from what it is that we don't know and stay in our comfort zone. Here are a few things that just popped to mind when I think of what adults tend to fear:
-beginning an exercise program (fear of looking stupid)
-beginning a new career
-starting a business
-joining a civic group (optimist, jaycees, etc.)
-attending a networking event
-participating at a rally for a cause that they believe in
-travel to a place unknown
These are just a few things. My challenge to you is that you take some kind of ACTION today to knock down one or more of those fears or any other fear.
I need to hit the road right now to continue the One Step From Striking Gold book tour. IL this morning, Des Moines tonight, hope to see you at an event soon!!
The power of the words that we choose to live with is amazing. When you visit with someone who "has to" do something, it is very different than someone who "gets to" do something. If you are "spending time" it is very different than "investing time".
I had the pleasure of speaking to about 700 people from John Deere the other day. The Employee Networking Group that brought me in was very clear that the greatest asset they had were the people in the company. They felt it was important to let them know by putting on a fantastic set of programs for the day. Some people may deem putting on an event as "spending" money; while amazing companies and organizations know that "investing" in employees will return more than they could possibly imagine.
One of the things that I typically cover in my live events is the power of taking action and being flexible. We are in a different kind of market and environment than we were even 1 year ago! (I was visiting with one of my coaching clients the other day about that very subject! Many of my marketing programs have changed dramatically in the last 8 months to reflect the changes necessary to capture market)
Here is some food for thought:
1. Are you comfortable? If you are, change something. Growth doesn't happen when you are comfortable. Anthony Robbins says "If you aren't growing, you are dying".
2. Make a plan to take action on at least one item per day that will move you toward your goals. It may not seem like much, but the snowball effect of momentum will amaze you.
3. Find a mentor. They will hold you accountable to your outcomes. You may not always like them, but you will love them for helping you accomplish what it is you set out to do.
The Shef and the John Deere Employee Networking Group team.
High School is a great time. You know exactly what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life. In addition to that, you know EVERYTHING! As we mature, we realize how much is that we don't know. (I was amazed at how smart my parents became within 3 weeks of Alex being born!)
I was going to be a rock star in high school. I was even voted, you guessed it, "Most Likely to Become a Rock Star". We enjoyed recording and touring, but it became very old very quickly. Who would have thought that long hair and tight pants wouldn't take you great places in the business world?!
I decided to change my path in my early 20s and pursued other things. This got me thinking: how many people are in the mindset of "I decided that I wanted to do xyz, and I don't really like it. I just have 26 years, 3 months, 2 weeks and 4 days left until retirement." In today's uncertain times, people are having to discover new career pathways if their jobs are eliminated.
My recommendation is that you remain flexible. Acknowledge that times change, and continue to sharpen your skill set. I am reading a great book by John Maxwell, Put Your Dream to the Test. One of the quotes reads, "The more you are concerned with things you can't control; the less you will do to improve what you can control."
Chew on that one...
Bone and I backstage with CJ from Firehouse after a great show in Cedar Rapids, IA.
I really enjoy traveling. In my industry I must travel (until I can find a way to have 10,000 people come to my home to hear me speak:)) This often means many nights in hotels, miles on planes, and dealing with people in the hospitality industry. I experience the full spectrum of customer service. The more I travel, the more that I see a trend: The companies that give great customer service are the ones that thrive. It is also essential that everyone in your organization shares the vision of great service. Here is an example:
Shelly and I were heading to Austin, TX this past weekend. We flew on a major airline and were not greeted when boarding, we were only directed by the flight attendants when need be during the flight. It was as if we were "interrupting" their work day. The pilot, on the other hand "Gets it" He thanked everyone for choosing their airline, mentioned small tidbits about areas that we were flying over, and even shared the fact that his son attended a university that was 30,000 feet beneath us.
Not consistent vision for customer service. If the flight attendants had the same attitude as the pilot, the airline may have more raving fans instead of dancing in and out of bankruptcy court. I do have to mention that MOST of the flight attendants that I encounter are very pleasant and upbeat. This was just an exception.
Our hotel was a different story. From the second that we pulled into the Omni, everyone from that moment on treated us like family. No questions, no problems, just a solid commitment to customer service. They "Get it"
This does not happen by accident. Make a point in your business to have regular meetings either in person or on the phone with everyone to communicate the direction and vision for your business. People feel like a part of something larger and more meaningful when this happens.