The Power Behind a Simple Question

Stuck in a rut? Need to brainstorm? You can do this simple exercise with a friend or colleague, or even by yourself.

  1. Ask: “What is on Your Mind?” What are you wondering, dreaming, and/or concerned about? Some people also may say, “what keeps you up at night,” but my thought is that question unnecessarily steers the response to the negative.
  2. Ask: “Why?” Prepare to spend some time on this one. It is helpful to have someone who knows you and with whom you’re comfortable in the conversation—to help define, but also to possibly challenge and then affirm your response. 
  3. State what you want
  4. Ask: What are you going to do to get what you want? I prefer trying to identify this in terms of what is the least you could do in furtherance of what you want?
  5. Ask: What do you need to stop doing?

Finally, ask for some support, it helps to have someone to check in with.

I used the process with a friend recently, concerned that I needed to be more efficient with my time in order to attract and retain the types of clients I want to work with. Among other things, I resolved to: 1) blog regularly, and 2) to unsubscribe from emails that, while perhaps interesting, distract me from my work in favor of those that provide benefit to my life and work.

Hope that helps.

Definitions of what a small business is vary according to industry type, sales, growth, employees, ownership, gross income, net income, and profitability.  It varies by who is doing the defining (bank, SBA, VC, etc), and the list goes on.

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But while they fail at an alarming rate (80% don’t’ reach their 18 month birthday), small businesses drive the economy.  Their number has increased significantly since 1982 and small businesses have been creating more than half of all jobs in the United States since the seventies.  In fact, since 1990, corporate America eliminated 4 million jobs; small businesses added double that many to the economy. 

Paul Fouts, dean of the Ageno School of Business at San Francisco’s Ageno Golden Gate University accurately summed it up when he noted “[s]uccessful small businesses are the unsung heroes, because small business is the driving force in the economic community.” 

At first blush it seems hard to reconcile the alarmingly high failure rate with the job contribution.  But if we ask a different question, e.g. “what makes a successful small business,” the answer is clearer. 

Every day in my practice I deal with small businesses owners in a range of industries.  They are men, women, young and not so young, and ethnic backgrounds vary.  Indeed, any number of criteria can be used to differentiate them. 

But the one common denominator, uniquely and somewhat intangibly tied to success, is purpose.  One fellow expressed it in terms of being a good dad.  Another described it as his desire to inspire others to change the world.  I define my as helping others’ advancement and achievement.  Some small businesses aim to be big, others to put food on the table.  Still yet, some to provide for employees.  

What these folks do and what their companies look like may change over time.  How they do what they do may change, too.  But in the end, those who understand their purpose are best equipped to navigate the myriad variables that can grab and tear at our enterprises.  

Thanks for the photo Julia!

https://chrismcgrathlaw.com/627/

Revisiting the Three Laws of Performance

I’m a huge fan of the Three Laws of Performance, by Dave Logan and Steve Zaffron. It deals with what it takes to create sustainable change, and has lessons that apply to both individuals and institutions.

Let’s put this in context.  The three laws are set against the backdrop of what the authors refer to as our “default future,” the product of a complex set of variables inside us, or inside our organizations.  Examining that default is valuable, as it identifies opportunities for change or (better) improvement.  Application of the three laws helps us figure out how to get there.
The first law:  how people perform correlates to how situations occur to them.  It answers questions about “why people do what they do.”  Reflection on this alone can be transformative, considering research on our ability to “rewire” our own brains.
The second law:  how situations occur to people arises in language (verbal and non verbal).  It offers us insight as to “how we improve.”
The third law:  Language that is future-based, or “generative,” transforms how situations occur to people.  When we use generative language, we transform and shape the future, as opposed to simply describing what is occurring or has occurred in the past and predicting the future.
Three Laws has excellent examples to illustrate its theory and some hard acquired research to support it.  Here at the law factory, we’re using the Three Laws to build a law practice that authentically supports the advancement and achievement of our clients.  Just making that statement changes how we approach new clients, and how we counsel them.  Staying true to that sometimes requires us to make some tough choices, such as not taking on matters that are not within the firm’s four core offerings of business counsel, commercial litigation, mediation and family law.  Or adding people who share the essential value of supporting the advancement and achievement of others.
Putting the three laws on your radar seems transformative in and of itself; people thereafter tend toward trying to use generative language.  But there are deeper questions there that challenge leaders to first look inward.
How do the Three Laws play out for you?  Is it the same in all environments?

Using the Three Laws of Performance to Transform the Future

I’m a huge fan of the Three Laws of Performance, by Dave Logan and Steve Zaffron. It deals with what it takes to create sustainable change, and has lessons that apply to both individuals and institutions.

The context is important.  The three laws are set against the backdrop of what the authors refer to as our “default future,” the product of a complex set of variables inside us, or inside our organizations.
The first law:  how people perform correlates to how situations occur to them.  It answers questions about “why people do what they do.”
The second law:  how situations occur to people arises in language (verbal and non verbal, e.g. all communication).  It offers insight as to “how we improve.”
The third law:  Language that is future-based, or “generative,” transforms how situations occur to people.  When we use generative language, we transform and shape the future, as opposed to simply describing what is occurring or has occurred in the past and predicting the future.
Practical application of the three laws gives us the opportunity to help others see the world differently, and bring about change.
Three Laws has excellent examples to illustrate the theory and some hard acquired research to support it.  Here at the law factory, we’re using the Three Laws to build a law practice that authentically supports the advancement and achievement of our clients.  To us, just making that statement transforms how we approach new clients, counsel those who’ve engaged us, and how we solve problems.
How do you use the Three Laws?

Help for New Year’s Resolutions…

Here are “10 Signs You Won’t Reach Your Resolutions This Year” by Ellen Goldman.  I expected that it would be a list,which would be a downer to this would be optimist, but to my surprise the article includes some good tips to turn the signs around.  For example if you don’t have a tracking system, she recommends getting a journal or some other means of tracking your results.  She also makes recommendations for what to do if you lack support or if you make the same resolution every year.

Here is my by no means certified take, that I picked up on through Tune Consulting, which is owned by my pal, Chip McLean.  He has a lot of great tools on the site for planning and tracking goals, but they simply scratches the surface.  Since our beliefs drive our behaviors, in order to meet our resolutions (that is, to change) we need to examine the beliefs that drive our behaviors.  This can be challenging, time consuming, yet worthwhile stuff, like the success those Biggest Loser contestants experience after Jillian yells at them and they cry.
If you see signs of your resolutions failing, as 85% of us do, then you may consider moving beyond the action and behaviors, and trying to discover potentially hidden assumptions about your beliefs that impact how you see the world, and yourself in it.  This burns new paths in the brain, and takes change or resolutions to a deeper level.  And change, from the inside out, is the key to success.
What is your resolution?  Are you on track?  If not, do you know why?
Enjoy the rest of your week.
Chris