The Every Business Series: The Character Of Success
We at Impono define "business" simply as the process for getting work done to meet or exceed goals. In order to meet the goals, you need to (at minimum) have the right vision, mission, values and infrastructure to support what you want to achieve, and of course you need to be able to match all of that with the right people. In order to exceed your goals, you have to do both with equal focus and discipline-- almost to a level of absurdity. We believe in that level of absurdity, and we know well the character of success required to sustain it.
You see, success will not follow you for long just because you think you have a great idea. Even if you have a great idea, it won't get far if you don't set a healthy tone and pace internally, care for your people, bring the best on board, and release-with-dignity those who no longer fit during each phase of your growth and success process.
And so, whenever we embark on supporting the success of a start-up or the growth of a small business, we look beyond the idea of the business and straight to the character of the founder. We have seen and been initially involved in startups and small businesses looking to grow with wildly imaginative ideas and incredible product and/or service potential-- all for the betterment of society and humanity (an Impono imperative), only to wind-down our contracts as quickly as possible after seeing first-hand that the character of success is missing. Without an obvious and abundant in the company.
Character Point #1: Appreciate Ideas (even when you want them to stop coming)
Back in the hey-day of the "Big-Hair 80s," I would watch a friend of mine fix her hair so that it looked beautiful-- in those days anyway: fully framing her face, appropriate height from the perfect curl of the curling iron, additional crimping on the sides. She would hairspray it, and check once more.
Then she would poof up the top a bit more. Then add hairspray. Then some side-poofing. Then more hairspray. Then the hair-pick would come out and she'd poof up the top a bit while also using hairspray. Then she would poof out the sides a little more while also using the pick and hairspray.
When she was done, the curls were gone. The hair was shellac-ed. What was once "ready" was now "overdone." And, there was no measurable difference (to the eye at least) for how her hair looked other than the bigness was bigger; but at the same time, the fullness she tried to achieve was gone. All that was probably perfect for the 80s, but I remember thinking to myself, why did she need to over-work the job? The first take was the best take.
This is usually the case with the first idea, too. It's typically the closest to the best and simply requires development and some evolution. When you get to what is considered the best, it's time to stop working on the idea and implementing it-- but that doesn't mean you shut down all additional ideas. It means you appreciate the additional ideas so that creativity keeps flowing, but you place it up on a Additional Ideas board and close the Idea Shop for that particular activity.
Too often we see leaders become flustered and frustrated when their employees keep the ideas flowing, and it's OK to draw a strong line and say, "We have it-- it's time to start implementing." Conversely, it's not OK to say, "No more ideas."
Point #1 is simply this: Enable and allow ideas, then create and enforce a culture of focus and discipline where ideas are appreciated, but not all are attended to right now. Success requires follow-through. It also requires innovating and invigorating that innovation. Know the difference and find the balance to support both.
Character Point #2: Know What Creates Your Static + How You Want to Release It
Type "what is static electricity" in Google and you receive: "a stationary electric charge, typically produced by friction, which causes sparks or crackling or the attraction of dust or hair."
Yeah. We've all been there literally and figuratively. We see this when we rub a balloon on our hair or exit our cars during the dry winter months, and the same happens in work all the time. You cannot and should not avoid it-- the environment, the charges in the air and the charges in people means you will have static electricity to deal with on a daily basis, somewhere and somehow... especially in high-charged zones:
A stationary electric charge... in the form of sitting in the fourth meeting of the day.
Typically produced by friction... in the form of healthy or unhealthy pushback, politics or debate.
Causing a spark or crackling... in the form of excitement and/or excessive activity among humans.
Point #2 is simply this: know when your internal charges are rising and how you will release it in a way that isn't hurtful to you and the next person you come into contact with. Unless you are looking to invigorate a team with a zap that excites them (think of the giggling child who turns off the lights, shuffles slippered feet across a carpeted room and touches a metal bookshelf), it's best to release your charge on something that won't zap others. You'll feel the zap, then it goes away without anyone else feeling it.
Character Point #3: Own Your Character-- It Is a Primary Driver for Performance
This third point is obvious but not well-practiced. "Owning your character" means you take responsibility for your character and how you express it through behavior, good or bad or when bad is unexpected. None of us is perfect all the time, and leading startups and small business growth is stressful just by virtue of building-while-managing, usually with few resources and a likely limited experience base.
In early days or when new team members come on board (in your team), let your team and those around you know what you are about, what you believe it, and what you strive for re: results and behavior. Be sure they reflect your company's values (and if you don't yet have values, create them for your team at the least). Ask your team and those around you for the same understanding. Come to conclusions about each others' character in advance of static charges occurring so each can hold self and team accountable for owning it.
Point #3 is simply this: Your overall character is the truest reflection of yourself, and in all cases your actions define you far more than your sentences ever will. Strive for excellence within the bounds of good human-ness. You will make mistakes; learn to manage those mistakes with ownership and grace. Set that tone early and hire in part for character and character ownership, and watch your culture remain healthy and your performance consistent.
We know that launching a new or transforming an existing organization isn't simple, but it can be easier with the right advisors and doers. If you have additional questions about this topic or how it can impact your business, contact us. Let's see what we can do for you.
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