Fearless Business Growth
By (courtesy of) Ruhl Business
Are you playing to win or playing not to lose in this economy? Your answer will affect your outcome.
ARE YOU BECOMING a "shrinking violet" in this economic downturn? Do you find yourself controlled by a "wait-and-see" attitude, hoping the future will magically get better? Do you realize that, if you don't put the brakes on this no-win thinking soon, the rest of 2009 will be more of the same or worse?
I challenge you to go against the "herd mentality" paralyzing the business world and drive your own reality. Below are seven critical success factors for fearless growth.
CULTIVATING A FEARLESS MINDSET
- Get rigorously honest about your fears. Fear is activated in the most primitive part of the brain - the reptilian brain. It signals danger. In life and death situations, fear is an important survival mechanism to act quickly, mobilizing strength and courage we never thought we had. In most situations, however, fear is a serious liability. When fear runs you, you can't see its control over you. It impairs thinking, paralyzes decision-making and drives reactionary behavior.
To shift from fear to fearlessness, you must first get rigorously honest how fear may be running you right now. What fears about your business, the economy or the future dominate your thoughts right now? Who would you be without those fears? How might your future be different when coming from that fearless place?
- Playing to win verses playing not to lose. Every action you take or goal you set is driven by motivation. In which direction is your motivation driving your business now? Motivation can be categorized into two types: "toward" motivation - moving toward something positive; and "away from" motivation, moving away from something negative or painful. In a strong economy, it's easy to "play to win." In a tough economy, however, most businesses are motivated by "away from" - or "playing not to lose."
While vigilant spending is always a wise choice, layoffs, budget cuts and putting growth on hold are typically signs of "playing not to lose." The irony is: "playing not to lose" has the highest stakes of losing, leaving you in a vulnerable position organizationally and in the marketplace. What negative thinking or beliefs are preventing you from "playing to win?"
- Upgrading your mental and emotional game. Today's negative media messages are being anchored into your brain without you realizing it, turning off your creativity, risk-taking and "intuition switches."
The key is to neutralize the fear system inside your head - to go where fear does not exist. To get started: Tune out the media which ignite the fear flames. Disengage from pessimistic people. Be vigilant, but not hyper-vigilant. Stop asking "Can my business thrive?" and start asking "What will it take for my business to thrive and grow?" Exercise your risk muscle - no matter how small.
FEARLESS STRATEGIES AND ACTIONS
- Re-ignite the passion in your business with a BHAG. "Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal" is a concept coined by business author Jim Collins in his book "Built to Last." When Jim looked at what the greatest companies did to become great, he found that these "greats" had a really big goal - a goal that inspired everyone in the company to see a future greater than the one in front of them.
BHAGs are ambitious, but not impossible. They create focus, instill excitement, encourage creativity and make the journey worthwhile. BHAGs are the perfect remedy to counteract fear and paralysis. What big, hairy, audacious goal inspires you to be bigger than where you are?
- Use "reverse positioning" to increase market share. In a recession, customers' buying behaviors, decision criteria and motivations change. Doing more of the same won't work. You must adapt your marketing to today's conditions.
Here are two examples to get you started. In an economic downturn, buying luxury items - even for wealthy people - declines significantly. Consumers refocus primarily on buying necessities. How can you position your products/services as necessities? Also, security and safety rise to the top of your customers' buying criteria. How can you make doing business with your company "safe," such as low-risk offers? How can your products/services increase their sense of security?
- Cultivate fierce accountability. One common trait of high-performing businesses is their commitment to accountability. Accountability is a simple concept, yet for many, challenging to execute. It is often the difference between achieving verses struggling to achieve a goal. Here's why.
According to the American Society for Training and Development, the likelihood a person completes a goal is as follows: Consciously decide to act on an idea: 25%; Set a timeframe: 40%; Develop a plan: 50%; Commit to someone: 65%; Specific accountability appointment with the person to whom they have committed - 95% actually complete the goal.
Take inventory of your accountability strengths/weaknesses on the following three levels and make improving accountability a priority. 1) Self-accountability: to what extent are you keeping commitments to yourself? 2) Peer accountability: to what extend are you keeping commitments to a team, partner, coach or mentor? 3) Organization accountability: to what extent is your company keeping commitments to your stakeholders (such as customers, employees, investors, etc.)?
- Finally, be like a rock; flow like a river. For an individual or organization to perform at its peak, it must know how to operate in the world of paradoxes. In these times, your business must paradoxically be like a rock and flow like a river.
"Be like a rock" means operating your core - that part of your business that is a constant and anchors you no matter how rough times get. Your core consists of your values, core competencies, culture and mission.
"Flow like a river" means knowing how to navigate through the waters of change, especially those beyond your control. This requires balance, agility and resilience. Balancing such opposites as: certainty verses uncertainty, short-term verses long-term, strategic verses tactical, etc. Having agility means rapidly responding to change, minimizing threats and seizing new opportunities. Having resilience means having the capacity to bounce back from catastrophe or unexpected circumstances.
We have more control over our business future than we realize. Your business economy does not have to be dictated by the global economy. The keys are where you put your focus; how you respond to change and to what extent you are willing to step up your game bigger and bolder than you ever have.
For more information, go to www.ruhlbusiness.com
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