Guest post by Joe Laipple
Are you frustrated when desired change doesn’t stick? Creating sustainable and accelerated change requires a daily focus. How then do we connect our todays with the end of the year? How we approach today makes all the difference and having a clear and specific plan to do so is one step that can help connect today to our long-term vision and outcomes. Once you describe the long-term goal, vision, measures and strategy, it is time to take deliberate action. A proactive focus on today is part of the answer.
Follow these tips to create sustainable change:
- Focus on only 1-2 behaviors. Too many things will lead to lack of progress on any one thing.
- Do these 1-2 things daily or weekly. It will be hard to get great at something if you only try it occasionally.
- Keep it simple. Those who struggle with change often over complicate it and add things to it over time. The key for leaders is to find ways to keep it simple as other distractions emerge.
- Find ways to make it work. When people start off trying to get good at 1-2 behaviors, they can’t just merely comply with it and just repeat the 1-2 behaviors over and over again. They have to fine tune it and tweak it along the way to make it work better for them. Leaders should share stories of how they are fine tuning their approaches and finding ways to make them work.
- Persistent and consistent follow up and follow through are needed to ensure that what you are focused on happens, that it continues to happen and that it can finally stick—as you replace old behaviors and find that the new behaviors work very well for you.
By way of an interesting example, I recently heard a successful retired professional athlete echo these same five points. He went on to provide the following additional details.
- Consistency was one of the things that separated good from great. Consistency is part of the items listed above especially around focus and doing things every single time—and in his case, in every single game.
- Everyone wants to win a championship (that is, achieve exceptional results/outcomes) but who is willing to do those key things (the behaviors or ‘the how’) necessary to win on a daily basis? Who is willing to do the little things, like good preparation, prior to every game?
- Conduct an honest self-assessment of what you’ve done and what you will do. After one particular loss, this athlete looked himself in the mirror and asked if he did everything humanly possible to help his team win. He not only asked himself this but he gave an honest answer. That self-assessment leads to having a good daily plan that he admitted to still using even today as he conducts business. He never leaves his home without a plan for the day.
- Finally, he talked about a key to his success in learning about business is being out where the action is so he really knows what is happening. Careful observation, specific discussions about what’s happening and how it is working helps us follow up in a way to pull through the changes. These go well beyond just managing by walking around. Hold brief conversations with people, develop good daily plans and follow up to connect the dots in coming days, weeks and months. This benefits not only the business but others around us.
Don’t just accept temporary changes when a little daily persistence will protect your initial investment in the change. Do something today to help you get that change to stick. Don’t wait for the change to happen. Make it happen. The bebop jazz tune “Now’s the time” provides the answer.
Joe is the author of Rapid Change: Immediate Action for the Impatient Leader
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