Tip for Success: Know When to Shoot the Bird

Have you ever tried doing something to push yourself out of your comfort zone and against the odds, only to have nay-sayers constantly balking at you every step of the way? Like the poor climber in this picture, leading a change or striving toward success can be extremely difficult all by itself. However, when you add the negativity of others and the constant picking, you can find yourself wanting to give up.

In order to effectively deal with these types of challenges, you have to first address the aspect of change, not only how it affects you, but how it also affects those around you. Here’s my own personal definition of change using the acronym SUCKS:

  • S – Something that quickly gets
  • U – Under our skin and has a tendency to
  • C – Cause us to rage, often
  • K – Keeps us up at night, and
  • S – Strains our very self-control

Believe it or not, making the decision to succeed can be one of the most challenging changes any of us have to manage. This is especially true when the change involves motivating a team to embrace the change as well. In this recession, there have been numerous companies who have simply fallen into financial despair as a result simply playing it safe. On the other hand, there are other companies who have chosen to use the recession to their advantage take a better hold on market share against the odds. I would imagine, if you are the leader for that type of an organization, you could easily identify with the poor climber illustrated in this post’s picture.

One case in point is LG Electronics of Seoul, South Korea. It has tried to seize the initiative by taking the offensive, even down to the use of military metaphors to dramatize its objectives. It created a “crisis war room” in January 2009 with the aim of cutting costs, improving efficiency and prioritizing business plans, such as new product development. Evoking images of battle might seem an over-reaction, but it appears to have helped to galvanize the company. Despite the downturn in consumer spending, LG has continued to launch new television sets, mobile phones, home appliances and other products. “We’re finding that people are cancelling vacations and spending more time in their home, so they’re willing to invest in more expensive home experiences,” says Bradley Gambill, executive vice-president and chief strategy officer.

Now if you are going to pick a time to grow, a recession would not be the most likely time to “go on the offense.” Common logic would suggest playing it safe, retaining the clients you can and riding out the storm. At almost all firms, including LG, innovations require something of a maverick mentality. “Agility and flexibility go counter to how you run the core business. The core business is all about repeatability and predictability. You have to meet the numbers, have efficiency. The trick is how to combine flexibility with efficiency,” says Vijay Govindarajan, professor of international business and director of the Center for Global Leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

So think about your firm or business. What uphill climb are you trying to spark? Do you feel like the birds are squawking at you and picking at you? Perhaps you might feel with all of the noise around you the birds are diving in, trying to get you off course or trying to just wear you down until you give up and go back to the bottom where they feel you belong. In those cases, my encouragement to you would be the same I’d give our friendly climber in the picture. Shoot the bird! Push on towards your goal and soon, you’ll be able to look back and realize you made it through one of the toughest economies, and not only are you better for it, but your firm or company is as well.

Happy climbing!

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.

For my professional resume, click here.

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