Sunday, August 10, 2008 12:14 PM
This post is part of a series called Ignite Your Life. For background info on the series, please refer to previous posts on introducing the series and The 5 R's.
I’ve worked at a number of different companies, in different industries, and have realized that most struggles that businesses face can be pinpointed to an uneven focus internally.
Sales is always a top priority in any business, since that’s the food that feeds the organization’s hunger and nourishes the company. There’s always a danger that sales becomes *the* focus, and that all things directed from within are to reach that end goal. I’ve worked at places where this occurred, and as software developers we began to feel burnt out and frustrated amid reminders that we were replaceable. Hearing other departments like Tech Support be told that they were simply a cost to be managed of the business and not a valued piece of a larger customer service strategy didn’t help the overall morale either.
On the flipside, I’m reminded of the small restaurant that I would go to for lunch with colleagues. The owner was a very nice man who made fantastic food. But when it came time to pay, he was very flippant about the price. He’d add up the bill in his head, sometimes rounding lower than what it should have been…”tell your friends” he’d say, as if getting free marketing was a fair trade. His business shut down shortly after it opened.
Individually, our lives mirror that of a company: we have various departments that we need to manage, foster, develop, build, and continuously challenge. Also in the same way as a company, we need to make sure we’re managing these departments equally…otherwise an imbalance to our lives can occur. We need to view ourselves as the CEO of our life, responsible for every aspect. Take a second, and honestly rate the following categories from 1 to 10 on how well you feel you’re managing these aspects of your life (1 being horrid, 10 being excellent):
Free Time (Hobbies/Recreational)
Health and Appearance
Personal Development (learning)
Ideally, you want each of these to be in the higher levels…not all 10’s, but ideally above 7’s. Which one’s aren’t? Why aren’t they? What are the roadblocks that are keeping them from attaining a higher score? Circumstances, external forces, bad luck, etc.?
I would argue that one reason why areas of our life suffer is because we don’t take responsibility for ourselves. Just like a business, our lives need to be profitable and well run. Note that profitable does not mean rich or wealthy; it means that in all areas (financial, career, social, spiritual, personal) we’re strong, growing, being challenged, and most important of all enjoying life.
Our knee-jerk reaction is to place blame on why we’re deficient in some area:
”My boss stonewalled me for a promotion.”
”My parents fed me junk food as a kid and that’s why I’m unhealthy today.”
”Nobody understands me, that’s why I have no friends.”
We blame, we complain, we try to change others to fit our own distorted view of what “well managed” means for a given area of our lives. But the reality is that until we take responsibility for ALL aspects of our life, we will never be able to fully ignite the potential each of us has.
Here is a challenge I put forth: take the two lowest scores that you rated yourself on. Now, what would happen if you just took an extra 5% to 10% responsibility in those areas? What if you tried a little harder to take ownership and control that you so easily gave up?
Most companies fall into one common trap: they don’t want to believe that there’s anything wrong. Even if someone points out a glaring fault, and offers up an alternative to fixing the issue, the defenses kick in. Hopefully you were honest in your personal assessment…because that’s not someone external telling you where you need to improve, its you. Now you need to decide if you’re going to believe that you can take the reigns of You Inc. and right the ship, or if you’re going to be satisfied with carrying the failing departments of your life.
Ultimately though, the only employee that gets hurt in this corporation is you.