Change is good but it is possible to be so focused on change that we are unable to execute it effectively. The secret to being able to make quick changes and keep up with constantly evolving business cycles is to not be singularly focused on change itself, but instead, focused on the things that will not change.
I once worked for a company where all the employees joked that each new policy change was the “flavor of the week.” We changed them so often that employees often had a hard time remembering the new processes. It was like that scene in the movie “Office Space” where all his bosses were wondering if Peter was putting the new cover sheets on his “TPS Reports.” The company was so worried about keeping up with best practices, they had no discernible long-term practices at all. Employees were confused, managers were confused, and most damagingly, the customers were confused.
Sometimes we’re so afraid that the competition is going to be ahead of the curve that we expend too much effort trying to read the tea leaves when what we really need is a thing I like to call concentric flexibility.
Security forces often talk about “concentric rings” of vulnerability or protection, meaning the target they are trying to protect is in the middle and there are layers of vulnerability emanating outward like ever wider ripples in a pool.
For example, if you are protecting an airport and you secure the terminal, then the vulnerability moves out to the ticketing area. Once you secure the ticketing area, the threat could move to the parking area, then the airport entry and so on. While the security personnel have concerns about the outer rings, they maintain the majority of their focus on the central element they are protecting.
When applied to business, I call this concentric flexibility. If you stay focused on what’s important, – your core business goals, your customer’s core needs – then you can be more flexible to make positive changes around the edges.
Jeff Bezos of amazon.com once said that what separates people and businesses who achieve lasting success from those who don’t is the ability to focus on the things that won’t change. Bezos understands that his customers want three things: a quality product, at a fair price, delivered quickly. That’s never going to change. He’s now the richest man in the world. Ever.
This is more than just Bezo’s philosophy. It should be as much a business principle as gravity is a physical law. Regardless of the business you are in, there will always be core needs your customers have that will never change. The processes by which you meet those needs or the packaging your product or service comes in may change with time, but the needs themselves simply won’t.
In football, when a running back is handed the ball he has one main focus. Advance the ball. The path to achieve this will be at least slightly different on every single play he ever attempts. But the goal of advancing the ball will never change. He’ll make small decisions on the fly as he runs the ball to achieve his goal. Do I zig? Do I zag? Do I jump? But his focus will always be on the same outcome – advance the ball.
When you focus on the specific and unchanging needs of your customers, you can stay flexible and nimble enough to incorporate new processes to accomplish meeting those needs. Instead of trying to stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology or emerging best practices, you can put new ideas to a simple test. Does this new app, technology, or practice make meeting the unchanging needs of my customer easier and more efficient?
Maybe it is easier to actually be cutting edge when the cutting edge isn’t your main focus.
Chronic disease is rising in America, rates of obesity, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and many more are skyrocketing. Could it be that this rise in chronic health problems is not only fixable but preventable?
A little over a year ago, my wife and I started following a new dietary lifestyle commonly referred to as Paleo, or Primal (these days you’ll also here it referred to as Keto as well.) It has done amazing things for our health and body composition. At 42, I feel better than I did at 24.
I’ve been wanting to use my platform to spread the word. One of the most highly researched, reputable and heavily followed sites in this community is Mark’s Daily Apple. I reached out to them to invite them on my show to discuss this amazing new health revolution of eating low carb, high fat, moderate protein and the advantages that come with it. Elle Russ, host of the Primal Blueprint Podcast and author of the Paleo Thyroid Solution joined me recently from sunny Malibu, California by phone at my WHAS radio studios in Louisville, KY for a wide ranging and fun conversation.
So, let’s change the paradigm.
Sit down and assess what your priorities are for the next five years. If there’s a big, grand change or accomplishment on your radar, break it into smaller achievable chunks. Drive toward the accomplishment of those smaller goals, while constantly assessing your progress. This helps you take risks more often while being able to correct your path before you get too far off track.
Here are four ways to prioritize and achieve your goals:
Prioritize God. I am a Christian, and for me, all goals should run through his will. This is the way I view the world and it’s non-negotiable. Prayer time is vital to clearing the mind, keeping us honest, and making sure that our goals are not based purely on self interests. The things we accomplish in our lives that don’t lift others up will mean absolutely zero after your gone.
Prioritize change. This is one reason I stopped doing New Year’s resolutions. I came to the conclusion that, if you see something in your life, goals, or plans that needs to be changed, why wait? Change it now. Instead of specific resolutions at the end of a year, I tend to assess or reassess my standing life’s goals. “Where do I want to be in one year? Three years? Five years?” If I can see that I’ve made measurable strides toward those short, medium and long term goals, I’m satisfied. If I’m not making those strides, I re-evaluate. “Is this really that important to me right now?” “Are there other areas of exploration and accomplishment that would be more valuable to me?”
Prioritize people. Go through all of your personal and professional relationships. Are the people in your life helping you or harming you? Do they edify you? Do they challenge you? Do they hold you accountable? Do they encourage you? If the answer is no, drop them. If the answer is yes, seek ways that you can reciprocate and strengthen those relationships. Trust me, this may be the best investment you make toward overall lifetime achievement. As mom always said, “we are who we hang with.”
Finally, prioritize your time. This statement is a cliche for a reason. Time is like money. Successful people control it, it doesn’t control them. When working toward a large goal, constantly be vigilant of your time. Assess all of your commitments. Do they help or hinder your progress? That doesn’t mean you don’t do things that have nothing to do with your goals. In fact, taking time away from your normal pursuits allows you to clear your mind, see the problems you face from a different perspective and generally refreshes your ambition when you get back to the task at hand. But you want to be sure that whatever you do fits into this paradigm of helping, not hindering towards your goals.
Prioritize this way and I’m confident you won’t overestimate what you can do in a year and you’ll be surprised how far you’ve come in five!