Food is a good thing. There is food that is nutritional, food that is fun. and food that is just plain bad for you. At different moments in life, with the proper balance, all have a place. If you or I were hungry, we’d take just about any type of food to fill our bellies. However, if we were not starving, we tend to be more selective in what we consume. In business, we often times choose to live the same way.
When we have a near full clientele we tend to only accept new clients who truly fit our business model, have a passion for succeeding, and ones that we know we can help. However, if times are tough in our businesses it’s easy to lower our standards and bring on whatever type of client comes our way. While that might temporarily fill our professional bellies and bank accounts, this is not a healthy way to live daily.
You see, when we take on clients for money, that’s not helping anyone really; at least not long-term in the ‘big picture’. Yes, we fill our financial coffers and pay the bills temporarily, but at what expense? We didn’t perform at our best, the client didn’t receive the best, and we were probably all frustrated and wore out along the way. Our organizations ultimately both suffer and are weakened by the malnutrition of the relationship. Again, eating a Twinkie once and a while or taking on a customer who needs a little boost temporarily is ok for a snack, but if we live that way regularly our body will begin to feel the negative effects of the poisons and start breaking down. This is never a good thing.
Furthermore, what if you were thirsty and I gave you a steak? Would you be excited? Maybe if you had other resources around you and you could get another drink somewhere else, but if you were truly thirsty and needed liquid refreshment, say good, pure H2O, then you would only be satisfied with water and a steak would do you no good. Again, this is a life lesson we all need to learn and carry over into our professional philosophy.
For if you are the best cog maker in the world, but a client comes to you in need of a sprocket, don’t try to chisel the edges off of your cogs in order to fit the sprocket order. What you are really doing here is not filling a need, but detracting from the big picture vision of your organization, causing chaos among your team, and serving the client with a lesser product. Ultimately, you are hurting everyone involved by trying to secure short-term solutions that are equatable to holding sand in your hands- it never benefits you long-term. If someone comes to us in need of a sprocket, introduce them to the best sprocket maker. Then, when the time comes that they, their friends, or someone else needs a cog, who do you think they are calling? That’s right, you! The honest and sincere person who helped them solve their problems, not just take their money.
So what do we do when times are tough?
The same thing we do when times are good- stick to the vision and plan!
For example, at Ascend we love everyone and truly want to help people grow- both professionally and personally. Fact is though, we have a limited number of hours in the day (just like you do), we have a certain, distinct, and unique skill set (just like you do), and know which clients we can exponentially help and which we should advise to seek another solution (just like you do). Saying that, we typically turn away more business than we take. In fact, we limit our practice to only working with a certain number of the ‘right clients’ at any given time and refer the rest to people/organizations who can really help them. We don’t want anyone to be lost in the shuffle of life, but the truth is we can’t, and shouldn’t try to help/serve everyone. You know the old saying, “You can only give what you have.” At Ascend we know what we have and deliver that to our customers and friends liberally everyday. However, we also know what we don’t have and don’t try to serve steaks to thirsty folks either.
Saying all that, here is a quick list of good practices for you to apply when times are tough in business, and when times are good. For if you stop applying these principles when times are good, they will soon be bad again before you know it.
Principles to Help You/Your Organization Grow in Business Longterm
- Know who You are. What are your strengths and abilities? What are your weaknesses? Live your strengths!
- Know what You do. What should you be doing everyday? What should you be outsourcing? Live your calling!
- Establish a Clear big-picture Vision. What are you ultimately working towards? Remember, where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18a). Make should you know the direction and destination your heading or you will certainly get lost. Or as Zig Zigglar would say, “When you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every-time!” Have a clear target and nail that bulls-eye!
- Plan Your Work. Once you establish a clear vision, then create the plan to get there. Don’t start working until you know where you are going. Efforts like that only waste time, wear you and your team down, and cause discouragement. Start at your ultimate vision and work backwards to where you are now. Bingo! You now have a clear map to get there!
- Engage Your Team. Now that you have a clear vision and plan, share it with those around you. It not only keeps you accountable, but it gets them excited too and gives them something to work for. Everybody likes and needs money, but no one wakes up each day and is fulfilled by it. Don’t believe me? Look at how many of the worlds famous and elite commit suicide each day, are addicted to trash, and have terrible relationships. Money is good and can buy happiness, but it can never buy true joy, peace, and contentment. So get your team on-board with the vision and attack it together!
- Work Your Plan. Do I really need to say more? Work the plan you and your team just laid out, adjust where necessary, and keep moving forward. Never quit; simply adapt and overcome!
- Adapt & Overcome. What does that mean? It means don’t dwell on all of the current problems, past failures, or future obstacles. Learn from them, but don’t let them break you. Act like you just came into the company and are going to save it (because you are ;-). Focus on the vision and what you need to do to get there. There will always be obstacles between you and success, but never let that stop you. Simply think through the new information, find a solution, and apply it. If that doesn’t work, try again. As the bible says in Proverbs, “A just man (person) falleth seven times and riseth up again;”. You can do this!
- Achieve Your Dream(s)! If you have applied the above steps and stayed focused on your calling, Congratulations! You have just achieved your dream!
Now while the above points obviously have more detail in them that we could discuss for hours, that’s what coaching is for. Hope this basic outline and article encourage you though to get focused (re-focused), stay focused, and achieve that big dream that only you can. To God be the Glory and enjoy your journey!
Helping You Ascend,
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