How do we get anything done?
Do your ever end your day shaking your head wondering how anything ever gets done? Do you often watch people operate at work, scratch your head, and wonder: what must they have been thinking? I’ll bet your answer to both questions is: often!
After 23+ years of studying people, both inside and outside of companies, I am frankly stunned that we accomplish what we accomplish. Why? Because we live in a world that is governed by a set of rules, that we are mostly unaware of, which are much more set up for us to fail than for us to succeed.
I’m going to address some of them with the hope that you will begin to see how you and the people around you set themselves up for frustration, disappointment and even failure.
For starters, here is a formula by which the vast majority of people live their lives:
RESULTS = NO RESULTS + A GOOD EXCUSE
Look at that formula carefully and see if you can get what I’m talking about before going further.
Here’s the point: people operate like NOT producing the result they set out to produce IS EXACTLY THE SAME as producing the result, as long as they have a good excuse why they didn’t produce the result.
Did you ever know anyone that was just late? No one is ever just late. They are always late because . . .
Did you ever know anyone that just failed? No one ever just fails. They always fail because . . .
I promise you, you live according to this formula, at least some of the time. And it’s a formula designed for mediocrity. Here’s what we find ourselves telling people all the time: Not producing the result is NOT THE SAME as producing the result. Either you do it or you don’t. Period. Who cares what your excuse is if you don’t produce the result. It’s just a justification. It’s just a story. It’s a way of letting yourself off the hook!
And if you are a leader, you support people in operating at the level of mediocrity when you let them get away with this. Stop listening to people’s stories and excuses. They’re just stories and excuses. Insist that people operate with integrity.
So what does it mean to operate with integrity? The word comes from the word “integral” which means whole or complete. So operating with integrity means you dot the i’s and cross the t’s. My favorite definition of integrity is: honoring yourself as your word.
Meaning: you mean what you say before you say it, you mean what you say when you say it, and you mean what you say after you say it. So when you say you’re going to do something, you do what you said you would do, the way you said you would do it, by when you said you would do it.
And no if’s, and’s or but’s. You keep your word. No excuses. And, if you begin to see that you will not be able to keep your word, you immediately go to the person who you made a promise to and renegotiate your commitment.
If you’re the head of a company, you have, in my opinion, an awesome responsibility. You have to show the way. You have to set the standard. You have to hold yourself accountable. For if you don’t do these things, you have no credibility to ask others to do them. You have to walk the talk.
So take a look at the formula and see where it operates in your life and put an end to it. Then check in with your integrity. Do you honor yourself as your word? Do you do what you say you will do? Do you follow through? Are you accountable to yourself as well as others? If your answers to
these questions are “yes,” you are on your way to being a leader worthy of being followed. If not, you have work to do.