Ken weighed 450 pounds. He was a great hockey coach, leading a junior club to division championships in five out of his six seasons. But Ken’s real ambition was to coach in the National Hockey League (NHL). Despite having all the right coaching skills, Ken’s friends were blatantly honest with him when they said “You won’t be selected for a big-league coaching position because of your size.”
Ken did nothing about his weight until one fateful day at practice. He slipped and fell on the ice. To his embarrassment and frustration, Ken couldn’t get back on his feet. That was his defining moment. Ken made a choice that day to take charge of his future, by choosing to win the battle over obesity. With the support of family and friends, he changed his lifestyle, losing 250 pounds in less than two years. Because Ken had decided to become accountable for his results to achieve his dream, he realized that dream in 1997 when he was offered and accepted the job of coach for the NHL Dallas Stars.
As this story demonstrates, there are times when we have to give up, to go up. Here are a few examples for you and your organization to consider:
Give up negative thoughts… What would you do in 2002 if you were guaranteed not to fail? That’s the question my staff and I asked ourselves during ICMS’ December 2001 budget process. I sensed that 9-11 and the recession were causing us to be too conservative and negative. Answering that simple question helped us to define a more meaningful, exciting, targeted set of goals for 2002.Give up negative mindsets to go up to more meaningful goals.
Give up living a life of mediocrity… “Everyone I know who models a high level of excellence has won the battle of the mind and taken the right thoughts captive”, says Charles Swindoll in Living Above the Level of Mediocrity. Our culture promotes moderation, middle of the road, and consensus. Those attitudes, while humble, are not always healthy. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I want to have it all!” Just be careful defining what “all” is. Author and speaker John Maxwell says, “Demand excellence from your people, and they will develop into people who also demand excellence of themselves and the people they lead.” Give up mediocrity to go up to excellence.
Give up pet products, processes and patrons that are losers… Business coach Dan Sullivan says, “If you spend too much time working on your weaknesses, all you end up with is a lot of strong weaknesses.” Business founders have a great affection for specific products, services and customers. Activity Based Costing (ABC) often finds that those “pets’ have become unprofitable. In other words, the owner is in love with a loser. Give up your pets to go up in profit.
Give up toxic people… Warren Buffet, the second richest person in the United States, asks himself three questions concerning the people closest to him: “Do I like them?” Do I trust them?” Do I respect them?” If any one of the answers is “No”, the deal is off, no matter how good the numbers look. Because of human nature, negative people are the most successful in converting people to their views. Stay away from them. Give up toxic business associates and friends to go up in value-added relationships.
Give up unrealistic expectations… Activity Based Cost Management will not cure cancer, eliminate worry, or insure a profitable new year. ABM/ABC will provide more accurate, relevant facts to plan, direct and measure an organization. Tim White of Daimler-Chrysler says, “One of the many reasons why ABC fails in most implementations is the fanfare and promises suggesting it (ABC) is the holy grail of business.” Give up unrealistic expectations and be pleasantly surprised at the significant benefits provided by Activity Based Cost Management.
Give up the attitude that you’re going to live forever… Seventy percent of Americans die without a will. There are a number of contributing factors to the lack of future planning. One is the prevailing attitude of “I’ll do it tomorrow”. You say, “I’ll improve the cost and pricing model next year”, but the marketplace is not forgiving of poor pricing and processes, so next year does not come. Give up procrastination and go up in profit, position and positive attitude.
Give up going it alone… While I share his name, I’ve never been able to confirm that Nathaniel Pryor is actually a distant relative. The reason for my interest is that Pryor was a member of the infamous Lewis & Clark Expedition. In his April 10, 1806, journal, Captain Lewis wrote, “I directed Pryor to remain with his canoe until Private Gibson arrived to assist him up the rapid.” Those wise words are a great reminder for all us … don’t try anything important alone. Seek knowledgeable, experienced, people of integrity to assist you. Give up going it alone to go up the river of success.
Give up the mundane… How many activities do you do in an average week? Many ICMS clients come up with 15-20 … one even had forty! It doesn’t take a genius to figure out you can’t do forty things each week and be truly focused. In Jack Canfield’s “The Power of Focus”, he recommends you list three things you are brilliant at in your business. He defines brilliant as “These are activities you do effortlessly, that give you energy, and that produce the greatest results and income for your business.” What percentage of time do you spend on your brilliant activities? Give up mundane tasks for meaningful activities.
Give up switching… Many people fail at improvement because they believe in the adage “If you don’t first succeed, try something else”. When confronted with difficulty, disappointment, or confrontation, people and organizations switch to something else instead of seeing it through. Why are there so many diet books? Because most people would rather switch books than eat less and exercise more. Why do so many organizations abandon ABC, JIT, Lean Manufacturing, TQM and Six Sigma implementations? Because switching is easy and success is not! I know of no more valuable technique in the pursuit of success than sheer, dogged determination. Give up switching to go up to success.
Give up familiarity… It is human nature to seek familiarity in our daily personal and professional life, e.g. familiar people, familiar food, familiar routes to work. While comforting, familiarity can lead us to take people and things for granted. Familiarity can lead to fatigue, i.e. nothing’s new in my life. Familiarity can lead to danger. Familiarity can also lead to coasting … and the only way to coast is downhill. Your accounting reports are familiar, but they may be causing your organization to coast downhill. Give up familiarity to go up to things more exciting.
Give up urgent, unimportant activities… Author Stephen Covey in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People says most people spend too much time performing urgent, unimportant activities. Someone else defines urgency. Take cell phones for example … please! During my speech this week to the Greater Fort Worth Manufacturing Association, four people in the audience got cell phone calls. Mr. Covey says urgent interruptions are rarely important because most people take care of truly important activities without prompting from others. Give up the urgent and unimportant to go up in time for the important and urgent.
Give up baby-sitting… You won’t ever hear me say, “I’m going to baby-sit my grandsons this afternoon.” Instead, “I’m going to keep my grandsons this afternoon.” What’s the difference? It’s the verb … baby-sit versus keep. “Baby-sit” implies that I’m simply going to temporarily watch, not really do anything. “Keep” signals my intent to nurture, train, protect and love those boys. “I would agree that the world has had too many ABC-sitters”, says Kari A. Rathjen, Activity Based Cost Management Analyst for NW Natural. The same can be said for Six Sigma, TQM, JIT, Lean Manufacturing and other improvement initiatives. Give up the attitude of ABC baby-sitting and become an ABC-keeper to go up to significant results that you can keep on your P&L.
Immigrants are four times more likely to become millionaires than naturally born Americans. Why? Because they come with a dream, a desire and a determination to succeed. Immigrants give up their old country to go up to a greater life. We’re all immigrants to the year 2002. Are you searching for a new you for that New Year? Does your organization need to give up some old habits to meet or exceed this year’s financial plan? Maybe it’s time to give up something old to go up to something greater.