One of the aspects of the consulting business I really appreciate is the downtime I am afforded over the holiday's. Most of our clients take the time between Christmas and New Years as a break so we follow suit, taking advantage of the time to reflect on the year, take stock in what we've learned and ultimately, determine how we will approach the coming years challenges and opportunities. As I have been in this mode over the last few days, one of the larger epiphanies for me has been around the notion of, "if you keep doing what you've done, you'll always get what you've got!" This quote (source unknown) has always been a favorite of mine, having used it numerous times in my consulting and coaching work and found this occasion to turn it on our business, with one slight twist. You see, this quote has been used in context with helping identify what is not working for us that we continue to blindly continue with. My revelation has been this typical use is the low hanging fruit - that the real opportunities come at examining what is working for us. Let me explain.Forcing this examination, I asked, "what is working for us, achieving acceptable results?" What I found in this self-reflection was allowing acceptable results to suffice, as opposed to striving for exceptional results. This then caused us to define how we differentiate between between acceptable and exceptional in the key areas of managing the business. The quick list was as follows: Financial management Acceptable - meeting expenses, maintaining cash flow cushion, jumping on investments when cash flow allowed Exceptional - setting explicit budget targets, guidelines, capex targets/projects & investment plan Business development Acceptable - following up on referrals, being opportunistic & building the business & clientele as it comes Exceptional - continuing to set & achieve/exceed growth & development goals, leveraging all the channels of promoting brand, familiarity, staying in touch with inactive clients, developing new IP to promote Professional development Acceptable - Drop in attendance with trade associations, special events, occasional get togethers with peers & colleagues, occasional reading Exceptional - Annual attendance of consulting/coaching conferences, mutual accountability via Mastermind group meeting monthly, coach the coach development, regular reading
As I dig in, I could probably identify a number of other areas however I am big on keeping it simple, focusing on the few key areas at the top of the performance pyramid so to speak. What became readily apparent to me is as I completed this list and identified the differences for my business between acceptable and exceptional results, I found that I was too often accepting the acceptable. A roundabout way of saying mediocre. Ouch! As bitter as this pill is to swallow, the truth was too evident to rationalize away. I had allowed myself to be satisfied with what is working as opposed to striving for what could be. Thus, my focus for the balance of this week among other things, is to set aside what is working and identify what needs to be in order to allow for what can be.
I look forward to sharing the results. Stay tuned & have a safe and happy New Year!