Draw a circle. There’s your sphere of influence – the things you control. Now draw another one around that inner circle. Those things are outside your control: the economy, North Korea, laws Congress will approve, the Syrian conflict.
How much of your business do you put in that inner circle? How you answer this question and what you decide to focus on makes all the difference.
I’ve seen a lot of business outcomes that coulda, shoulda, woulda. But management just believed they couldn’t do anything to change things. They were subjected to circumstances, powerless.
Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”. This is one of my favorite quotes! Let’s bring this home: Whether you think your company will do well or not, you’re right. If you think you have great employees or not, you’re right. If you think 2017 is going to be great or not, you’re right.
BUSINESS IS A GAME OF INCHES
Look at the little day-to-day, insignificant things we do – like deciding what kind of training you will sponsor for your employees, for instance. No one comes back from that and lights the world on fire. Sales will not soar. You won’t get a higher price for your company. It may take 10 years of consistently training your employees to see that a particular training has an impact. Yet, every time one of your employees is trained, something shifts. That employee handles a client call a little better or stays on longer because she’s more confident.
Or let’s say you look inside your company and see a person there who is not pulling his weight. You’ve tried everything you could and now it’s time to make a tough choice. How you handle that choice will dictate the morale around the office and speak volumes about your company.
Even the day-to-day things like encouraging people to contribute ideas. You might get a hundred bad ones but then, smack in the middle, is one good one that reduces scrap or increases productivity.
These single-strand decisions are within your control – and they impact your whole organization in small, yet significant ways.
SOMETHING ONE CEO DID THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
One client company I worked with had hired a new CEO. He started sending out periodic messages to everyone, informing his employees about what was going on. He did this about once a month. It took him maybe half an hour to write that email. What he gained in terms of appreciation and loyalty and respect out of his 35 employees was tremendous. They felt in the loop. They knew they weren’t in the loop on every point, but they felt like an important part of the company because the CEO felt that way too – and he showed it. Little things add up to big impact in the end.
The more you simply focus on the things you have some say in, the bigger your sphere of influence – or the circle you control – gets.
ONE MOMENT DOESN’T DEFINE SQUAT
I have a client who doubled in size over a few years’ time. You can’t point to one action. If you dropped 30 pounds or gained 30 pounds – one White Castle slider doesn’t swing it either way. That’s business, too. One decision probably won’t make or break you – but add up all those little decisions and you can shift your entire enterprise. Decisions within your control lead to incremental change. Marathon thinking, not a sprint mindset, wins.
WHAT’S IN YOUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE – WHAT’S NOT?
Sometimes, we dwell on things we can’t do anything about – politics, the economy, new technology, taxes, even the weather. I am not saying we shouldn’t support the causes we believe in or not have an opinion. My point is that when it comes to our business, we are in a lot more control than we think we are. When we play victim, we will be. When we are the masters of our circumstances, we will be.
I worked with a client who – the day after 911 – started a freight forwarding company. He had a vision. And he didn’t allow the mayhem in our country to delay or even reverse his business decision. He decided his sphere of influence was stronger than the circumstances outside his control.
The year ahead is a time for us to work harder and smarter and put ourselves in the driver’s seat in our businesses and in our careers and in our life. And it all starts with the little decisions we make every day.
Now press go on 2017. You are its most important author.