Archive for the 'Business Goals' Category

New Year


I am growing tired of the plethora of articles elucidating the 3, 5, 10 easy steps to getting yourself smarter, better, stronger, faster, more organized, richer, happier… Sure,  given the hackneyed New Years resolution rituals we engage in, it is understandable.  But really, given all the news stories indicating we will all fail on these resolutions I am not sure why anyone feels compelled to write about it.

I have come to a realization recently.  The one thing I try to do (and it is not a resolution) is to spend 20 minutes early in the day reading poetry.  Yep… I said it…   POETRY.  There could not be a more useless activity to engage in.  It is like an anti-resolution.   Sure it is an activity, but it is not a list packed with all of the frenetic anxiety of hurrying to get something done.

Why do I do this?   It acts like a physical exam for me.  It makes me slow down, and pay attention to things I routinely overlook.  I know my state of mind immediately.

One of the other utilitarian benefits is that it makes me think in analogies and similes.  Being able to use these in interactions with others has proven to be one of the most powerful communication tools available and it exercises my imagination which is the only way I have successfully solved any problem.

I am not suggesting to anyone that they go out and buy an anthology of poetry. I am sure that most are as sick of being told what to do at this time of year as I am.  But if it makes you curious,  go to the library and check out this book ; I never liked poetry until I read it.  Want to dive right in? Try this which should, if you are healthy, make you laugh. Or, if you want something to think about, this  he like (T.S. Eliot) was a business executive, living in the real world in addition to being a poet laureate.

When I am trying to gather my thoughts and plans for the new year this is the poem I read.  It helps me focus on the why more than the what.

by Ted Kooser

The goldfish floats to the top of his life
and turns over, a shaving from somebody’s hobby.
So it is that men die at the whims of great companies,
their neckties pulling them slumped in the shower,
their hearts blown open like boiler doors.
In the night, again and again these men float
to the tops of their dreams to drift back
to their desks in the morning.  If you ask them,
they would prefer to have died in their sleep.

You can do Anything!

I am becoming increasingly concerned about a pervasive American myth we keep telling our kids:   “You can be anything you want to be!”  I know as a parent we do not ever want to dampen our children’s interest or enthusiasm, and of course, we want desperately for them to be successful and happy.  However, telling them this alone sends the wrong message.   I do not disagree with the notion that they ought to pursue those things they are interested and passionate about, but we ought to be encouraging them to listen too.  Listen and look at the messages and signs that manifest themselves from the world outside and their soul inside.

ImageI can point to both priests and doctors who have pursued these vocations and found themselves too far down a road to turn back.  Who knows what events led them down this road, but it is clear from the lives they now endure that the life they have is not at all what they were expecting.   No need to mention the danger that lurks in the work of an unfulfilled priest or doctor…

Is it good to tell your kids “you can be anything you want to be”?  Sure, only if you are willing to follow it up with a challenge: answer for yourself (not for anybody else) why you want to be or do a particular thing and then look honestly and critically at your answer.

If you are honest and brave you can relate to them how you arrived at your career and life stage and how that is working for you.  Now that is a conversation I’d pay five bucks to attend!

What happens when you get too focused on details

It is easy to get excited when you think you have found something in the data.  Make sure you are not getting myopic.  I would not count on being this lucky.

Business Goals

Do you have goals for your business?                                                              Image

On the surface this seems like an easy and obvious thing to develop.

If I asked all of your employees what they thought the number 1 goal for your business is, could they tell me? Would they all have the same answer?  If I went to your customers and asked them what was most important to them would any of them match the goals for your company?

It is certainly important, but can be trickier than it looks.  In the coming posts I will share some real life examples how seemingly well intentioned and thought out goals ended up in unexpected places with unintended consequences.  Stay tuned.

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Dan Clark

Dan Clark

Principal of Bowline Consulting, process designer/fixer, wireless telecom veteran, addicted pick up soccer player, fly fisher, backpacker, beer brewer, guitar player, choir singer, recovering bag piper

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