Evolving from a classroom challenge, Our First Job Search is the result of 60 students brainstorming on how to help their peers navigate the universal struggle they face as they begin the grand journey in the job search process. Sometimes fresh out of college tosses us right overboard and into a sea of turmoil.
One crisp, clear day an entrepreneur was driving through the countryside and came upon a farmer toiling in a field. The sight of the farmer’s intent focus on the ground as he worked his way down the field sparked the curiosity of the entrepreneur so he pulled his car over and sauntered up to the fence to watch. The farmer, along with his horse drawn wagon was closely inspecting the dirt as he went along. Every so often, the farmer would push back some dirt and pick up a rock. Some of the rocks were small, no bigger than the size of the farmer’s hand. Others were the size of watermelons and required extra effort to get them in the back of the wagon.
After a few minutes, the farmer noticed the entrepreneur leaning on the fence and walked over. “How’s it going?” said the farmer. “Great” said the entrepreneur. “I couldn’t help but notice you as I drove by and wondered with all the rocks you are picking up if this was a new field.” “No” replied the famer. “Been planting and harvesting this field for a good part of 30 years.” “Incredible.” said the entrepreneur “You would think after all this time all the rocks would be long gone. “Funny thing about that.” replied the farmer. “Every year about this time I come out to this field and find new rocks that need removing before I can plant. In fact, I do the same thing with all the fields on the farm. The first few years, I thought the same as you. But I learned that new rocks seem to find their way into the field every year. I can’t ignore them and I can’t work around them because even the smallest ones are in the way of a great crop.” The entrepreneur shook his head in amazement and said, “I’m really impressed with your dedication and attention to those rocks.” The farmer replied, “It’s just a part of being a farmer I reckon. I have to find the rocks and remove them before I can plant the seed. Otherwise, my crop won’t be as good as I want it to be. I have enough things going against me, like weather and seed costs that I can’t control so I need to pay attention to the things I can. Like these rocks.”
Over the past 4 years I have been privileged to work side-by-side with peers and thought leaders to focus on developing greater vision, alignment, and traction both in my own company as well as helping guide others with theirs. This has been an incredible learning experience as we have shared ideas, best practices, and processes, holding each other accountable along the way.
As I read books from great authors like Pat Lencioni, Jim Collins, Gino Wickman, and others on leading a business, I noticed how these great thought leaders are all within our lifetime. Perhaps it is the power of the internet to know and be known that has opened the floodgates for leadership development. At the same time I wondered why there didn’t appear to be much in the way of thought leaders before our time who shared their experiences outside the occasional quote or biography.
That was until recently. During a time of daily devotions I was studying Philippians 3. As I read through verses 12 to 19 I happened to read them in The Message translation. Wow, what an AHA moment. While I know Paul was speaking towards a relationship with Christ, the parallels with vision, alignment, and traction are astonishing.
As a leader, how in tune are you with what I call "The Other 5%". To be totally honest, I didn't coin the phrase. It came about as a result of conversations with some of our IT Services clients . about recent experiences with our team. In both cases the clients were very happy overall with the service we provided, yet, there was a notable difference between what each shared as our conversation evolved and I felt that difference is "The Other 5%".
Conversation #1: The client had some new equipment installed and during the installation process there was an issue with setting up one of the devices in the office. The client shared that after spending a fair amount of time attempting to find the solution online the team member instructed the client that they would need to call the manufacturer themselves because we could not do that for them.
I recently ran across this version of Aesop’s fable “The Four Oxen and the Lion”
on a blog post by writer/columnist Charlie Scott and felt it speaks to a core value most companies have, or want to have. Being a “TEAM PLAYER”
. I hope you find some small bit of inspiration from it.
In the days before civilization, out on the prairie there lived four oxen: Frank, Harry, Skip and Greg. These oxen had learned over time that they were safer as a group. Whenever anything that looked dangerous approached, twitches from any one of the oxens’ ears was the signal for all of them to band together and take defensive positions. Their defense was elementary but effective. The four oxen would back their tails together with each ox facing outward. (This may have been the first recorded “I’ve got your back” teamwork.) This configuration allowed the oxen to see in all directions.
When was the last time you thought about the significance of alignment? It affects performance in so many ways. Our car drives straight and true when it is properly aligned. Doors open and close when they align with the frame as they should. Chiropractic promotes health benefits with proper alignment of the spine. I'm sure at least one or two other things that rely on alignment come to mind when you think about it. How about your business?
In business, alignment is when we the entire team is moving shoulder-to-shoulder in the same direction, focused on the same thing, speaking in one voice. This is wholly different from what we typically picture when thinking about company alignment. It is horizontal alignment rather than the typical Top-Down, vertical alignment as many companies focus on.
I was having a casual conversation with a client a few days ago and he shared with me a recently completed service request for one of his customers. After completing the service request, the customer was caught off-guard by the amount of time my client’s team had invested in providing a “Disney” moment (making their dreams come true). When he asked the customer why he was surprised, the customer replied, “When I talked to my team they told me that all you did was take a copy of an existing report and change the way it looked to make the new report”.
It occurred to me that he had experienced “The Iceberg Syndrome”. An obstacle of sorts that often leads to misunderstanding and dissatisfaction with our customers, our teammates, and our colleagues. Typically found when the person or people on the receiving side only see the 10% of the iceberg that is visible above the water, but are unaware, or perhaps don’t understand the other 90% hidden from sight below the water.
A little while back, a friend and mentor shared the lesson of the Cod and the Catfish with me.
He said fisherman discovered that when cod are captured and put in a live well they become lethargic and die before the fishing boats return to shore. This makes the cod useless and uneatable. The fisherman then put catfish in the live well with the cod and they discovered something remarkable. The catfish poke, prod, nip and totally aggravate the cod so that upon return the cod are alive and well.
I recently read an on-line article by Steve Dorfman about customer experience titled “Would you invest a dollar in your business to make four thousand?
” In the article, Steve shared an experience he had with a moving company he hired to move some extra furniture out of their home. He shared that they arrived on time, where polite, and did a careful job.
Over the next couple of days, he discovered a number of places that needed to have scuff marks removed (a natural occurrence during moving furniture) and spent about 10 minutes with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser getting rid of the scuff-marks. The thought struck him of what the reaction might have been if the moving company, knowing that scuff-marks are a product of moving furniture, spent an extra 10 or 15 minutes scrubbing the walls. I would imagine it would be awesome.
Have you ever considered that? I am sure we all have an idea of the important issues, challenges, obstacles in both our personal and business lives. But have you ever added the "Right Now!"
to the end of that thought or that discussion? It really can be a game changer in how you approach things.
If you haven't added the "Right Now!"
yet, let me offer you a suggestion on what your first "Right Now!"