Leadership Lessons: High Expectations vs. Low Expectations; Cleaning up this in your life.
We get what we expect.
If we set high expectations for ourselves and for others, lofty outcomes are what we can expect. If we set low expectations for ourselves and for others, lowly outcomes and production are also what we can expect. When we don’t give people big goals to shoot for, large things to do professionally, Big, Important Work projects to go get after, they don’t. They do not do those things. People are great at many things, even things they don’t know they’re great at. But if they are not coached into doing those things, nudged in the proper direction of those things, it is far more unlikely that they will end up doing those things.
The problem is we’re too busy, adrift in a sea of distraction. The unimportant is the urgent. And the urgent, salient. Things that ought to be pushed to the afternoon steal our best, most creative, morning hours. While it takes significant discipline to say no to time stealers, it takes even more discipline to say no to ourselves, to ask ourselves if this is the most useful and productive thing I can be doing right here, right now, at this hour, in this moment time. Because it usually isn’t.
We’re working on the wrong things.
It’s not that we’re not working. We’re just working on the wrong things a lot of the time. Our focus is misplaced. We focus on the Powerpoint slides themselves vs. the delivery and knowledge transfer of the presentation. We focus on the template vs. the crux of our message: exactly what is it we’re trying to get the audience to understand? We focus on the data and facts of the presentation when we should be focusing on the emotional stories that resonate. Our focus is on what the Boss will think vs. what our customer told us she wants. See, we are working — we’re just working on the wrong things. And this is all the stuff in between emails, meetings and conf calls. Whew.
We are not good at No.
We are not very good at saying no. Many of us in sales & marketing are people pleasers. We’re in this because we like hanging around other people, talking story, exchanging ideas, pitching other ones, and being sociable people in general. Right? As a result, we find ourselves saying yes to just about everything.
The Boss walks in and she says she has a new project for you that will take about a months’ worth of your full-time attention. You need to lead a small team of 3 toward this new product goal. It’s a stretch, but with your can-do spirit, she trust that you can do it. Your plate is already full like everybody else’s, but you acquiesce and say yes.
Your kid has 6 volleyball games this coming Saturday + Sunday (yes, really: six), and she wants you to be there at all six. You have a promotion-pending project that needs completed by EoD on Monday. You’re behind. You love your kid. You love your job. You even love your Boss. You think if you knock this project out of the park, your promotion is imminent. What do you do?
Your customer in Southern California loves you. She is having an open house / get together at her new branch location in San Diego County, and wants you there. (Only you.) Your 4 year old daughter has a Christmas pageant on the exact same day as the open house and there is no way for you to be at both simultaneously. Whom do you say yes to?
These scenarios are common among busy professionals, especially those who live in an airplane as the home away from home. These are the tradeoffs we all have to make. These are the tough decisions that only have a right answer for you. Where are you at right now? Who are you today? How do you want to show up today? What are your values? What do you hold in the highest regard? It is always best to let our values guide our decision-making. What is most important right now? Who is most important right now?
Business philosopher Jim Rohn has a wonderful, yet harsh coaching axiom:
“Clean up your neglect.”
As humans, we all have neglect in our lives. Things and people we’ve ignored either accidentally or intentionally. Neglect happens. Especially when we’re all too busy, hey, quick-gotta-go-, Gee-look-at-the-time-, busy-busy-busy people. Neglect reminds us that busy can be a festering problem.
Like an open wound, neglect gets worse. Worse in our minds. Worse in our psyche. Worse in our emotional makeup. Worse for our spirit. Sure, we can choose to ignore it, to further compartmentalize it, to deny its existence. Only none of these mind tricks make it go away. There is no bliss in this ignorance.
So, what do we do? How do we deal with this neglect in our lives when we’ve chosen to ignore it for so long? We decide to face it — head-on. We take it on like the protagonist takes on the antagonist at the climax of a movie. The way Batman takes on the Joker. The way Superman takes on Lex Luther. The way the Avengers take on whatever sinister force they take on next. And they employ blunt force with Superhero Strength & Might.
The good news for us is that this doesn’t require actual, physical fighting with ourselves, though that might be easier than what we actually have to do. The bad news is that it requires mental training and gymnastics and hard coaching. It requires having conversations with the Self that you do not want to have. It requires facing that which we do not want to face. It requires talking about that which has remained unspoken. This won’t be easy…
The other good news is that you are not alone. No one is. Not even in these harsh matters of personal neglect. We are all in good company here even if you think this only infects you. It doesn’t. It infects us all. All of Us. Together. No exceptions.
“Whew. That is good news. Other people are in this with me. What a relief. “
It is a relief.
There is only release, fresh psychological air in dealing with it, in getting after it, in having the courage to face it head-on like a Superhero.
Now, let’s get to work. Together.