March 2006 Insight Newsletter

Five Small Adjustments – Big Idea

Both Zen and marketing philosophy tell us that finding the right ‘insight’ or way to frame an idea will create a more powerful doorway to the future. The same is true in leading people – you need a clear, straight forward direction to rally around.

I’ve been searching for more than three years for how to express what I do in a way that makes it truly marketable and feels right for both me and potential clients.

Why this takes so long is anyone’s guess. Marketing people never seem to offer great insight. Perhaps if I’d paid big bucks for heavy brainstorming with one… but I don’t think so. I believe we have to grow into insight through steady effort and a good deal of personal soul-searching. Jim Collins agrees in his excellent leadership book, Good to Great, where he insists it takes companies on average four years to work out their primary strategic strength, what he calls their Hedgehog Concept.

Finally I think I’ve got it. I’ll be very interested in feedback.

So what’s the miraculous “big idea?” Reframing my topic as “Dealing With People Exceptionally Well At Work.” And talking about how small the adjustments are that enable people to achieve this.

Is this really so special?

Value Multiply

Nothing in this is dramatically new. But I’ve been calling the topic “leadership” and saying I show people “five easy strategies for success.” I’ve been pointing out research that proves such strategies create more success to the tune of three to ten times the results over those who don’t use them – actually multiplying, not just adding value.

As far as I could see, however, all this fell on deaf ears. People would look at me like, “yeah, that’s what all ‘leadership’ speakers say… but we’ve read that stuff and nothing much changed.” At least, the last part always seemed to be what they were adding when they asked: “what makes your stuff different?”

In a way the deafest ears of all may have been my own. I couldn’t easily say what’s different. Now I think I can. You be the judge.

“Leadership” and “strategies for success” were just too fuzzy. Everyone talks about these in all sorts of activities. To make it clear, I need to connect what I do to work and express a single goal simply. Maybe someday I’ll write a series – Dealing with People Exceptionally Well at Work, then…. at Home… in Volunteer Organizations, in Not-for-Profits, in Your Love Life and so forth. I tell people the same principles apply! However, when marketing yourself or a product or service, it pays to be clear what you’re offering for money right now. My primary market is people at work.

As I’ve worked with people in organizations on the five core skills, I’ve seen more of the results people get and, even more importantly, how little they have to do to achieve them. One or two small adjustments in approach when working with a boss or a staff member or for that matter, yourself, can make a very big difference beginning immediately and accumulating. Keep it up and you can fundamentally change a relationship with almost anyone.

Yes, there are toxic bosses and employees where all you can do is avoid them or change jobs. But ordinary, hard-working people of fairly good will are much more the norm. And exposed to the right behavior from you, they become more positive, more supportive, more insightful and effective as you move your own behavior in the right direction.

Small Changes – Big Results

You don’t need a six-month course in leadership or an executive coach to make the minor changes involved. You need to work steadily with these ideas in mind.

As they say in Zen, when you achieve great insight, you laugh out loud, literally with joy. The big, mysterious mountain (or problem) in front of you becomes “just a mountain” again. That’s how I felt when the words “dealing with people exceptionally well” and “small changes” occurred to me. These relate better to who I’ve tried to be far more than “leadership” or “success strategies” seem to convey.

However I ultimately phrase this to clients, the key insight for me is that I’m not asking people to make enormously difficult changes, nor asking for a great many of them, yet their results with people will improve dramatically. Suddenly, as with Zen insight, the way before me looks easy. I have faith the product will begin to sell itself. The mountain is just a mountain.

What’s The Formula?

Until I write the book, which now is clear in my mind and, therefore, finally achievable, thanks to this small “Hedgehog Concept,” here is the link to earlier outlines of the five skills involved: Five Strategies.

The most important skill is balance, meaning common sense and balanced judgment as well as physical and emotional balance. If you can keep balanced while you persist toward building some new, very small, habits or skills in five areas, your success will multiply. In much less time than you expect, significant breakthroughs will occur.

Most of us are good at all but one or two of the five areas: being positive, being honest, re-searching ideas, persisting in building habits and keeping things in balance. We need only concentrate on becoming better at our weaker areas by building greater strength in our strong areas to do that. You don’t need to change your personality to be effective. Just begin saying more positive things, giving more honest feedback and so on, just a little at a time till you find it becomes easier in every situation.

URL’s For More Information

You can find more about Jim Collins’ book, which captures these ideas in a different, but recognizable way, in Amazon’s reviews here (by scrolling down): HERE. You’ll find some reviewers saying he has 5, 6 or 7 key points. He says six, beginning with “getting the right people on (or off) the bus.” My belief is that you don’t usually have the luxury of hiring all new people or firing the old ones (especially when they’re your bosses). But fortunately most people on the bus already will be pretty good, though probably disillusioned. You can bring them around with his (or my) other five principles. I don’t claim to have invented them, only distilled them from 60,000 other books on leadership, success and personal growth presently on the market. All I try to do is show how small the adjustments these books recommend really are. And as they add up, so do results!

©Dave Crisp 2006