If you go to a gym, I am sure noticed an increase in people after January 1st. By now, many of these faces have disappeared.
I do not know why we choose special dates to start things. The first of the year, first of the month, the week. Whatever. Maybe it works for some people, but it certainly does not work for everyone.
The problem is we get fixated on the starting date and not the actual goal. It is easy to say we are going to start January 1st or some other date. The hard part however is making it a habit. Making a commitment can be difficult.
I certainly struggle as well. I can no longer count how many times I have worked on learning more German (language).
My suggestion is to be as specific as you can with your goal. What is it you want to do or improve?
Be realistic. What is achievable behavior? I know it will take a lot of time and discipline to be fluent in German and that is intimidating. However, it does not mean I cannot be more comfortable with conversational words and phrases and work from there.
Now commit to working on it every day and stay realistic. Start small, maybe 10-20 minutes a day. Not a lot at first, but an easier commitment to help build some momentum.
Sometimes it helps to create a trigger. For example, each day after dinner you walk around your neighborhood for 10-20 minutes as part of your goal to be healthier. Dinner is the trigger.
Track your progress. For exercise, there are a plethora of apps to help you. Or simply use a calendar and place a check mark after each day you have reached your goal. This is a great visual reminder to track your progress and keep you motivated. Many apps help with this now because the concept works. We like our winning streaks.
Be patient and consistent. Frustration is the enemy. You will have setbacks. In fact, I would say to expect it. Be accountable to yourself and persistent about your progress and you will push through.
Habits can be hard. Excuses are easy. Just keep going. The finish line is in sight.
- Brian Townsend, Eagle 6 Training
Sitting by the fireplace recently, I took delight in watching the fire burning brightly, the sounds of the wood crackling, and the wonderful smell emanating as it radiated warmth throughout our living room. It had taken some time to reach that point; an hour earlier the fireplace was nothing but a cold hearth. Once the fire grew in intensity, it needed only a periodic larger log to be added so it could seemingly burn at a higher rate on its own, white hot from the center of the stack.
The fire did not initially begin that way, as it needed a helping hand to slowly begin burning. If overloaded at the beginning, it would be overwhelmed and would not come to life. First, I purposely laid out smaller logs and then topped them with a row of kindling before igniting the pile. At times, it needed a few breaths of air to provide oxygen so it could gather strength and intensity; only then was it ready to have larger logs added to the mix as the temperature within climbed and thrived on its own.
As I basked in the glow of what I had created, it reminded me of a parallel with effective leadership. Some managers/supervisors believe they need be overly boisterous or to berate their team to achieve results. Some try initially to heap too much on their teams and when objectives aren’t accomplished in a timely manner, they resort to lighting a fire under people to get them going. Will that sometimes achieve team/organizational goals? Sure, but it is hardly the best way to get the most from your team. You may get compliance by barking out orders, but you are not likely to achieve optimal results, especially over an extended period. In such a situation, few would feel the need to go the extra mile and would be more apt to do the bare minimum to avoid the boss’ wrath.
Effective leaders realize that having influence over someone means lighting a fire within them; to stoke their inner drive to reach their best level of performance. Instead of yelling, screaming, or cajoling, sometimes it takes a word of encouragement to get the fire going inside of someone. Only then are they more likely to reach their full potential, along with a desire to achieve or surpass goals because they feel heard and seen, instead of operating from a place of compliance and fear.
To stoke the fire within someone, you first must understand what makes that person tick. Everyone is unique and has different motivational drivers, and it is the responsibility of the leader to identify those drivers. You must learn how to stoke their inner fire. When someone feels valued for their individual contributions and worth, they are more apt to put forth their best efforts and to be more than a mere minimalist. As the wildly successful entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash once said, “Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, 'Make me feel important.' Never forget this message when working with people.”
Be a leader who lights a fire within someone, not under them.
- Dan Mehdi, Eagle 6 Training
A few weeks ago, I was coordinating a leadership class with first-line supervisors and the discussion turned to accountability.
We look at accountability from two different but equally important lenses.
The first is for the individual to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions. Ultimately, this is what we all want. The onus is on the employee to do the right thing.
The next is for the individual’s boss to hold this person accountable. Do you know who wants this the most? The individual’s coworkers. Nothing frustrates people more than a fellow employee who is not held accountable for their actions, especially when it is a performance issue.
The question asked during this training, and something that regularly comes up is how. How do we hold people accountable?
When I think about an answer, I think about communication. Is your vision clearly communicated? Is the work or task clearly communicated? You cannot hold people accountable when the communication is broken.
Some other suggestions about communication -
For some of you, this is hard. It will get easier if you break each of these down and focus on your communication.
The good news is once you develop this culture of accountability, people will work harder and even hold each other accountable. It has a snowball effect on the organization and, ultimately, the culture.
Behavior drives culture.
- Brian Townsend, Eagle 6 Training