I have done a number of radio interviews for my new book “Starting Over – 25 Rules When You’ve Bottomed Out” (on Amazon.com) and what strikes me about people in this economy aside from the fact that they are realizing unemployment at a staggering high of 10.2%, is that they are indeed inspired to re-create their lives in spite of great challenge. I applaud this energy and forward thinking that is indigenous to people today. This is still an era for hope and dreams. Opportunity still abounds. We are a society where hard work still pays off if it is channeled in a strategic way. I truly believe that, as I did, you can become anything you set your mind to: as long as you are dedicated to two things: 1) you are fearless not reckless, and 2) you ask questions or figure it out.
I wrote the book to help guide the fearless energy of dedicated people with answers to the roadblocks that have been keeping them from success. What I learned from the people I profiled who had overcome immeasurable odds to realize triumph is that passion for success is not enough. You must strategize a career move as seriously as you planned a career choice. You must focus on prescriptive exercises, methods and action steps that will guide you to a new tomorrow.
Here are some of the tips from my book that helped me go from public assistance to CEO: Begin with a “Success Sketch” and Hang It Where You Will See It Everyday, Surround Yourself with People Whose Strengths are Your Weaknesses and Give Away the Glory, Make Your “Wheel of Fortune” Spin on Balance, Offer Solutions to Problems – Name the Company’s Pain, It’s Not Who You Know – It’s Who Knows You, It is Important to Fail Early, Start Everyday As If It Were the Last Day Before Vacation, and When Everything is Negotiable Everybody Wins.
Below is an excerpt from “Starting Over”:
Human nature calls us to surround ourselves with people like ourselves. That’s great if you are talking about with whom you’ll watch the football game or sit with at the pool. We are comfortable around people like ourselves. But if you are talking about change that will bring about a greater good for you and those around you, you need to define your weaknesses and then surround yourself with people who fill in those gaps. They may not be the people you call when you want a sympathetic ear. But my guess is that you will need a sympathetic ear less often if you are successful in what you do thus leaving more time to be with true friends.
Think about it, if you are wonderfully creative and a risk taker you probably front run in the innovative aspects of your work and life. But you may not have clear processes and accountability in line when you are being innovative. As a matter of fact you probably let things slip through the cracks because you forget about the details or aren’t even aware that they needed attention. Surround yourself with people who can help you strike a good balance between innovation and structure. Often times in a marriage one spouse will be creative and less structured and they will find a spouse that is more left brained and organized. A good balance is a bonus.
Or you may be very organized and methodical and are the person that provides the information needed to make clear and concise decisions. But the path those decisions lead may not be clear to you. The pitfalls and risks may seem too great to move forward. If that is the case, surround yourself with creative energy that is able to articulate the affects of different scenarios.
Let’s assume that you have the right people around you and you are poised to succeed. Goals need to be defined in order to meet success. You can’t get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going. Chances are that the main goal you want to achieve is going to remain your goal unless you can involve the team in setting and defining the parameters of the goal. If you engage the team in the goal setting process, they will want to be a part of the success and work harder toward it. Let them own the rewards of the team’s success.
Once you reach your team’s goal do you feel as if you have done a great job? No. The team did a great job. You were simply the leader.
Just because you lead a team does not mean that you solely own the team’s success. The team owns the success. As a matter of fact, I suggest that you give away the glory of the success solely to the team. “I want to thank all of you for the work that you did to make this possible. Your outstanding dedication to the mission at hand is what made this happen.”
Being able to motivate people is one of the best skills you can have. It will multiply your effectiveness. It will engage people to buy. It will engage people to follow you. It will engage people to trust you. It will engage people to help you. The single best way to motivate people that I know of is to continue to reinforce their positive contribution by applauding them personally. Validate their efforts. Giving them the glory is an excellent way to do this. And do so publicly.
As my former hospital president once told me, “What do you care if others get the credit? You are measured by what it is that you can accomplish. If you can motivate others to help you get there, you don’t need the credit. The results are what matters.”
Surround yourself with people who not only have your weaknesses as their strengths; surround yourself with people from whom you can learn to be a better leader.
Rule Break: Employers give personality profile tests to prospective hires in order to tell their strengths and weaknesses. Interviewees are used to these tests and know what an employer is looking to see. If you truly want to get to know someone in any situation, ask him or her open-ended questions that are behavioral in nature and will give you insight into how they respond to unanticipated situations. “What was the biggest disappointment in your life – both personal and professional and how did you deal with it?” “What was the most gratifying thing that ever happened to you?” “What is the culture of your corporation?” “What was the best compliment you ever received?” “What was the worst criticism?”
I applaud you for being dedicated to constantly improving your career and personal choices. That is what makes you not ordinary but exceptional.
If you feel my book may help you on your journey, you may find it at Amazon.com.
And if you find the book helpful, please feel free to write your comments in the “Review” section of the books page on Amazon.com. Best wishes for continued success!
Mary Lee Gannon is a cultural turnaround and leadership expert who went from being a stay-at-home mother with four children living in an unpalatable marriage behind the facade of a country club life to the reality of divorce, homelessness, and welfare. As a national guest speaker she demonstrates turn-around strategies that transform corporate cultures and took her from an earning capacity of $27,000 to the president and CEO of a hospital foundation. Her book “Starting Over – 25 Rules When You’ve Bottomed Out” is available in bookstores and on Amazon.com.