My late father always told me to be thoughtful about the company I keep.
Not only from the perspective of your reputation being tinted by the association, but also from the stimuli you get from people around you.
His favorite line was “do not compete with the losers” – constantly reinforcing and stretching my capacity, raising the bar about who and what I want to become.
Now, as the first month of 2024 is over, I look at how quickly the time passes and am musing about the attitude with which I want to shape MarchFifteen’s year ahead.
When building MarchFifteen I consciously made a choice not to compete with others, but to follow my own path, based on observations and intimacy with the clients, and what I deemed to be most relevant and meaningful for them and for our team.
And as many of you are focusing on growth, keeping with the motto of “do not compete with the losers” might be of interest to you. Here are a few thoughts that might help your own thinking:
- Have courage to compare yourself and compete with the best you. Think about what it means to be “the best you”. It is easy to be seduced by the environment and compare yourself to others, but true growth and satisfaction has to come from within.
- Be stubborn about your values and principles. In politics the values are printed on election posters. Businesses have them printed on their walls. But they matter… The “how” matters. You want to compete with your best and you want to compete with the best – know what sets you apart and nurture it, protect without compromise (which might be tough in the short-term) how you conduct business – both internally and externally. Use values as guidance when you make decisions, because they have moral implications. My dear colleague Dr. Carl Robinson said to me that “the employees’ favourite pastime game is seeing the leadership in their contradiction”. If there is discrepancy between what you say and what you do, cynicism broods and sickens your organization.
- The old Hedgehog Concept (oh my this was introduced sooo long ago by Jim Collins) is a wonderful compass as you set a direction. The Hedgehog Concept is a way of looking at your business with clarity regarding the intersection of three areas:
- What can your organization be the best in the world at?;
- What best drives your economic or resource engine?; and
- What are you and your people most passionate about?
The conjunction of these three elements creates a sweet spot that, if you stick to it, allows you to be not good as a business, but great. And although the book was first published in 2001, in my humble opinion, the principle holds.
- Be hyper aware about your relevance in the short- and long-term. To do that, we need to be reflective and manage our egos. Staying close to the customers, being a strategic partner with the most important stakeholders and listening to what matters to them is not complicated. But it requires courage. Because you might learn that what worked in the past might not be of value tomorrow… And letting go of something you created in the past, your legacy products and offerings, can be difficult.
- Set meaningful goals – for your organization, your team and yourself. Setting the right objectives for your organization is not only important but also critical. We overwhelm ourselves with the top 100 priorities and keep busy with a sense of urgency, but gain little satisfaction from a job well done and progress made in the right area or direction. Choosing the right course is not easy, but we should be setting meaningful goals for the right reasons. To make the goal setting meaningful, we need to be clear as to the “why” we are focusing on certain areas from the start. I am not always the biggest fan of Simon Sinek, but he was right – starting with the real and true “why” makes all the difference. Lead transparently with clear context and articulation of the “why” and see how you capture minds and hearts at the same time.
“Do not compete with the losers” – I know misery may love company and we might be seduced to say “I am not as bad as…”, but most of us have that healthy sense of value and pride, never really setting the bar low. I hope this reflection blog allows you to take a pause, consider your standards and put the mechanisms in place that allow you to get the gold you deserve.
As always, I am keen to hear your reaction,