Subtitle: Hang me from the vigas!
I have often said that great managers do what others don’t or won’t. Interestingly, when I talk about this in meetings or seminars, everyone shakes their head in instant agreement.
They all think they are the ones trying harder……
But in most rooms, I would be lucky if 1/10 fit my definition of trying harder. This is the turned inside out version of the 80/20 Rule. 80 percent of us think we perform in the top percent. Most of us are wrong about this!
Today I was reminded of the stark difference a person can make when she tries harder. Here’s the scenario:
I am doing some work with a regular client of mine. They offered training to their resellers (smart!). They then asked training participants to share their success stories using the techniques and have offered to give a nice prize to the person with the best success story.
The entries have been coming in and most are very weak efforts indeed – a single paragraph saying how a technique was helpful.
And then there is Sally (changed name). Sally has submitted 12 entries and each of the 12 are more impressive than the other entries. Her examples are specific, compelling, and believable. It is obvious she really wants to win the contest and she has decided to go all out to do it. She has separated herself MILES from the rest of the pack.
The extraordinary efforts Bren took to get his latest job promotion is another example of trying harder.
Before you send me emails saying trying harder is not always best, let me just say this:
- If you are going to do more to meet or beat your goal, you need to be smart about it. Sally would not have improved her standing in the contest by sending 15 or 20 half-assed entries. In fact this would have hurt her.
- Bren would not have been successful had he just bugged the HR department and not done the research and preparation.
The kind of trying harder am advocating here is smart, strategic, and effective. AND this targeted effort should trump the general crud that’s on our to-do lists.
How do we know when it’s time to try harder and what to do? That’s an interesting question and one I ask myself all the time.
- Can I be doing anything more to get my next book deal?
- Can I be doing anything differently to engage you, my reader, more fully?
- Are there requests I could be making that would rocket my goals to Mars?
- Is there a new project I should pitch?
- Are there people I should more proactively reach/connect with?
- Who am I competing against and are they doing more to reach our common target market?
- Is there anything more I can do to reach more readers?
Since 80% or more of us are NOT the ones trying harder, I think it is healthy and wise to ask ourselves these tough questions. Perhaps we should ask our trusted colleagues and friends for their candid (hang me from the vigas*) feedback, too.
* Funny story: While at the writer’s conference in Taos, my poetry instructor asked people what kind of feedback they were up for hearing. He said, "can I hang you from the vigas?" He wanted to permission from people to be straight with them. Vigas are log ceiling beams found in many New Mexican homes. Here you see them coming out into the hallway of this hotel.