Exemplary Service is About Crossing the Line, Again and Again
| Published: April 26, 2016 | Comments
My goal was not to be a big shot. My goal has always been to be a little shot that keeps on shooting. Over the years, I have found one of the biggest problems with people and the businesses they own or operate is their lack of consistency; they stop shooting. Every once in awhile they attain greatness (become a big shot), crossing the line from mediocre to great, but most of the time they accept average, good enough and mediocre as their standard operating procedure and their results prove it. Greatness is not just achieved from being successful at performing tremendous acts of enormous proportion. Most of the time, greatness can be achieved through mundane, routine, everyday acts, done consistently, with style. I am referring to things like returning phone calls and emails consistently, in a timely manner, over delivering on every promise made, consistently being on time for meetings and appointments and being consistent with communication and message content. In other words, if you consistently show up, do your best and want the most out of the company you own or work for, you can achieve a superior grade from your customers.
In order to hit the big goals in life, consistency is key. Without it, you will struggle to gain the trust of those around you and probably fall short of achieving your goals. Consistent action with the little things in life, builds trust, loyalty and relationships. Start with the little things, the easy things, the things within your control and you will find eventually, your consistency with the big things will start coming into focus as well.
I have built several businesses over the years and have found (consistently) that consistency has been the key to every success that I have had. To be superior, you have to know what to be consistent with as you climb the ladder to success. Here are the five rungs of the ladder that I have had to climb again and again. Consistently focus on these five time-tested areas as you build, revise and strengthen your business model and go through your daily activities. Do not lose sight of them. Print them out and look at them daily.
“If 80% of life is just showing up, the other 20% will help you attain greatness. Strive for greatness.”
While these five pillars may not be directly measurable on a balance sheet or profit and loss statement, stay consistent with them and success is just a matter of time.
It should go without saying but honesty is non-negotiable. Honesty needs to pass the mirror test as well. Can you look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about what you just promised, delivered or intended? Not only do you need to be honest with others, but you will need to be honest with yourself as well.
When you are honest with your customers, they will respect you more. Take off your sales hat for time enough to understand your customers’ wants and needs. Once you take a deep dive into their desires, work hard to develop a solution for them. Honesty plays an integral part because if you truly feel like you do not have a fit, be honest with your customer and tell them that key piece of information. Chances are very good you will be rewarded with future business, referrals and a very appreciative customer. Keep in mind that not everyone is a potential customer, and that is quite alright. Also, don’t confused a spike of income with a happy customer, if the product or service you sold them is not consistent with their needs.
“If people like you, they will listen to you. If people trust you, they will do business with you.” ~Zig Ziglar
With every customer you have and each prospect in your pipeline, your goal is to become their go-to expert and their consultant. As such, here are some areas consultants focus so they can provide honest information to their customers and prospects:
1. Consultants provide unbiased information in the form of a competitive analysis.
2. Consultants work within the parameters of a prospect’s budget to keep costs in line with vision.
3. Consultants understand finding a solution is not the only way to work with a customer.
4. Consultants work on taking a deeper dive and discovering the reasons behind the problem.
5. Consultants are not afraid of the truth. As a matter of fact they work hard to uncover it.
Honesty 301 is integrity. Since integrity integrates morals, principles, truthfulness and sincerity, it involves so much more than just honesty. While being consistently honest is very important, having integrity involves your entire being including the way you think, act and behave. If honesty is a surface condition, integrity can be felt to the core.
Organizations that are run by leaders with integrity are constantly looking for ways to improve and get better in the eyes of their customers. Leaders that lead with integrity care. When an organization’s culture has integrity at its roots, it is destined to be liked, admired and top notch. When integrity is consistently applied to the business practices within the company’s brand, it’s message will be clear, precise and honest - a winning triple threat.
Organizations with integrity show it to more than just customers. Integrity is a commitment made by an organization to its staff, vendors, partners and anyone else coming in contact with their brand.
At the heart of providing consistent integrity, organizations continually work hard to make improvements to policies, procedures, products, services and anything else affecting the experience they provide internally and externally. There must be a consistent message that represents the integrity of company’s products and services.
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” ~C.S. Lewis
Organizations having integrity are consistently fair, honest and trustworthy. They have integrity because it is the right thing to do, even when it is not the easiest and most profitable thing to do. Integrity does not follow the balance sheet, but rather acts independently, rising above the value of currency, a closed deal and a signed contract.
There is inherent quality about transparency that is very calming for me. In today’s fast paced, often cutthroat world, there always seems to be an, “I win if you lose.” undertone. Transparency can help reduce feelings of becoming the victim of an organization’s agenda. There should be no winners, no losers, just players in the game. We are all on the same team, working toward a common goal.
Businesses that are transparent are more easily understood than organizations that put roadblocks, obstacles and filters in the way of doing business with their customers. Similar to integrity, organizations that are consistently transparent become predictable to their market because of their openness.
“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” ~Dalai Lama
While their message remains clear, they are not afraid of the response that transparency can create if the organization’s views are not lockstep with their market. Social media channels are a very easy way to help organizations remain transparent today. Transparency leads to shared opinions, messages, ideologies and views. The important part is for an organization’s message to remain consistent.
The idea of transparency transcends the messages that an organization shares with its stakeholders. It goes far deeper than that, and incorporates policies and procedures, operations, management decisions and financial information as well.
What is so great about transparency is that is ends the market’s feelings of doubt, judgement and second guessing. No longer do customers need to worry if they read the “fine print.” All the fine print is exposed and discussed and there should be no feelings of insecurity when using a brand’s products or services.
“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” ~Ray Kroc
Leaders are consistently good coaches.
Growing up, I can remember the coaches that helped me play my best. These coaches were consistent and predictable. They played me (and my teammates) when we had a good attitude, followed the rules and worked our hardest. When we had an “off day” or our attitude was less than stellar, we remained on the bench. As an adult, the coaches that inspire me follow the same pattern of predictable and consistent actions. They not only tell me the way, they show me the way, and are excellent advisers as well.
Leaders consistently encourage.
There is no better feeling than having someone standing on the sidelines and encouraging you to do your best. Cheerleaders lift your spirits when you are down, help you regain traction when you are slipping and turn a potentially negative situation into a positive experience. A great leader consistently understands there is more to life than winning and helps get you back on the path even when things aren’t perfect.
Leaders consistently catch people doing something right.
Too often people are criticized. A great leader understands the importance of constructive criticism, but more importantly, will catch people in the act of doing something right. Think about how great it makes you feel when you are given a pat on the back for a job well done. Recognition does not need to necessarily come along with a big reward. Just the words, “Nicely done!” will be appreciated by the receiver. Leaders that consistently find the good in a situation will be admired by those they are leading.
Leaders consistently empower others.
It’s impossible to do it all yourself. At some point you will need others to help you. Great leaders empower others to get the job done. Delegation is a challenge for those that want to retain control, however, leaders that consistently empower others to make decisions, take action and be in control, are the most effective. Along with the ability to empower others comes the responsibility of understanding failure is a part of the road to success. Empowering others does not negate a leader’s ability to take ownership and responsibility for failure. A great leader accepts responsibility for everyone on their team, does not blame others for failure and passes praise to others on the team as well.
Leaders consistently have vision.
Think about great leaders in business and technology. Technology leaders like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and business leaders like Sam Walton. Each one of these men had great vision. They were able to see the future and determine the right moves for their organizations. Jobs and Gates created products and services by living in the future. Their vision was so clear they were able to convince others that anything that was a part of their vision was possible. If they had doubts or problems, they also created the solutions. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, had vision of providing quality products at a low price for people all over the world. He did not want to invent anything, but he did have a vision to build a more efficient way to move and distribute products. The people that follow Jobs, Gates and Walton did so because these leaders consistently had vision and developed a way to convert their vision into action while leading others.
Leaders consistently show genuine gratitude to those they lead.
There is nothing better than getting a heartfelt, genuine, “Thank you!” for a job well done. When I was new in the business world, I had a boss that would go out of his way to say thanks. He would express his appreciation in a variety of ways. He would send cards in the mail, leave short notes on my desk, take me to lunch and show appreciation again and again. Over time, it was easy to see why every other department within the organization wanted to work with him. His consistent show of gratitude had a huge impact on those around him. Great leaders are consistent with their appreciation and gratitude.
One fact has remained true throughout my entire career dating back to my first job in 1977. While I may not have been completely thrilled with every task I was given, I kept my attitude and approach to each task positive. Part of our challenge in the workplace today is finding others that have a positive outlook. Keep in mind you are only responsible for your behavior and no one else’s. If you find yourself working with someone who is less than positive (or negative), work hard to keep your head up and remain positive. Do not allow yourself to get caught in a downward spiral of negativity. I’ve said many times that negativity can sometimes be disguised as a television program, a LazyBoy recliner or a water cooler conversation. Remain positive, feed your brain with happy information and love the life you are given, you only have one chance to make it work.
“You can’t have a positive life and a negative mind.” ~Joyce Meyers
1. Focus on what you are good at doing, not just what your faults are.
2. If you look for a silver lining, you are going to find one.
3. Look for positive influences in your life including the people you associate with.
4. Be solution focused. Don’t get caught in a rut of playing the blame game.
5. Know that you have a choice. Choose positive.
6. Share your positivity with others. Positive loves the company of other positive.
7. Appreciate the little things that are in your life.
8. Do your best not to compare yourself to others.
9. Stay in the present. Positive lives in the present moment if you look for it.
10. Keep your mind fresh, rested and ready to move. Negativity dwells on what was.
11. Always be a student. When you learn new things you will stay positive.
12. Be grateful for what you have. Focus less on what you don’t have.
13. Don’t let life happen, make life happen.
14. Communicate openly, freely and honestly. Be confident in your communication.
15. Smile with your entire being, not just your mouth.
16. Learn to reward yourself when things go right and not so critical when things go wrong.
17. Be patient with yourself and with those around you.
18. Don’t settle for anything other than the best you possible.
19. Keep your self talk positive and provide yourself with consistent positive affirmations.
20. Be curious about your encounters and never be afraid to ask why.
There are many ways in which you can choose to be positive. The important thing is to be consistently positive, over a long period of time. Do your best to feed positive words to yourself. Although we are our own worst critics, you should be your best supporter as well.
Consistency will set you apart from others and put you on the proper path to success. As you approach business and the relationships that you have, be consistent with your actions and the five pillars. Work hard at remaining consistent, like your career and your relationships depend upon it. As you remain consistent, others will begin to notice the changes in you if you were previously less likely to be consistent. You have an opportunity to make an impact in this life and remaining consistent with honesty, integrity, transparency, leadership and positivity will create lasting results no matter where you go and what you do.
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