David Letterman is on the streets of New York, microphone in hand, asking passersby this question: "What is the purpose of being in business?" What response does Dave get? I would guess that almost everyone would answer, "To make money."
Perhaps; but there's a different way of looking at it. What if the purpose of being in business were to grow people? What would that change in the landscape of American business?
In a word: it would change everything--and you would still make money. If individuals and groups would live their lives with integrity, the world would be a safer, more vibrant, healthy, and fulfilling place.
For most, this is honestly a new way of thinking; yet all the research I've conducted points to exactly that way of thinking in those companies that are considered to be visionary. Companies such as Citicorp, Ford, Marriott, Nordstrom, Wal-Mart, and Walt Disney all share a common code of integrity that is committed to growing its people--and achieves stellar practical results in the process.
Here are three guiding principles I believe are necessary for any business--including yours!--to live in integrity:
1) Minimum Level Objectives: I do what I say I will do.
2) Team: I can't do it by myself.
3) Accountability: I am the source of all that I experience.
Minimum Level Objectives: "I do what I say I will do."
When people don't hold this principle as important, the entire system of core values fall apart. Unfortunately, people are often misled by the fallacious idea that, "I am better off committing high and falling short than committing lower and falling short."
This is simply not true. You are not better off unrealistically committing to "big, hairy, audacious goals." If you commit to an artificially high goal, then the moment you start to question your ability to reach that goal, your motivation starts to dwindle. The pull of hope dissipates.
Instead of the "audacious goal" fallacy, I recommend using MLO's: Minimum Level Objectives. Determine and articulate the minimum level of accomplishment that you give your word you will achieve, and falling short ceases to exist.
In over 20 years of training and coaching, I can't tell you how often I've seen people commit to reach a goal--and then not even complete the very first action toward that goal. An unrealistic goal makes it almost impossible to start, let alone finish! It's the starting that stops most people.
If you set a smaller, more realistic goal, then you can maintain hope of completing it. Being successful and honoring the principle, "I do what I say I will do," is also its own reward: the more you do it, the more confidence you feel.
Mind you, I'm not against setting "stretch goals." I simply mean that it makes sense to determine a bottom line: something that you give your word you will achieve, no matter what.
Team: "I can't do it by myself."
"I am far better off as a part of a team than I could ever be alone." Elite performers never argue with this. They know that to be successful, they must surround themselves with others. By doing so, they create an atmosphere wherein learning, discovery, clarity, and accountability can occur.
Accountability: "I am the source of all that I experience."
This principle says that we are very powerful at manifesting our dominating thoughts. This principle is a source of strength: it doesn't allow you to become a victim. (The opposite of this principle is blaming.) However, it cuts both ways, since it embraces all results in your life, including dysfunctional results! It also says that someone who is 30 pounds overweight has created that result: he is exactly where he is in his weight because that is exactly what his point of view supports.
Likewise, this principle says that the person who has financial difficulties has exactly what he should have, given his current financial point of view. If he wants to have different results, the answer lies not in what's going on around him--the environment, the marketplace, etc.--but in changing his own point of view. He is, after all, the source of all that he experiences.
How do you change your point of view? That is actually a simple process. Decide what you want; then determine what you need to do to achieve that; then determine what you need to do over the next seven days. This declaration needs to be very specific, observable and measurable.
The process is not complete until you have in place a structure for accountability. You need someone other than yourself to hold you accountable--to check back with you at the end of the week to see if you actually did what you said you would do.
I have traveled throughout the United States and abroad teaching this elite performance system with tremendous results to people who weren't satisfied with who they were, who wanted to be more fulfilled in their health, business and personal lives.
Try it on. Make a specific declaration to another person and then set out to execute for the next seven days. Design some type of a reward or punishment with that person; watch how your perception shifts. Now, because you have this dynamic of accountability in your life, instead of just seeing how busy you are and all of the reasons why you can't do what you said you would do, you will see the opportunities to handle whatever comes your way and still honor what you said you would do.
Put together one week like this after another, and you will have a magical year!
BOB DAVIES (www.bobdavies.com), M.Ed Psychology, MCC (Master Certified Coach) is a former championship football coach at Cal State Fullerton; he coached an athlete with Hodgkin disease who overcame his illness to win a gold in the 1984 Olympics. Bob is author of The Sky Is Not The Limit--You Are! and Coaching For High Performance.