The other day I realized something about myself that isn’t really the greatest…
I was merely walking to the ATM to deposit a check when I realized how much I prize efficiency and simplicity.
From the walk up to the ATM-no one in line-to the way I pressed the buttons on the touch screen, to the way the check was seamlessly deposited then onto how I grabbed my card out of the machine smoothly and with ease slid it back into my wallet, turning and walking away from the ATM (with no time to read the “goodbye, thanks for using” message at the end)….
It was then, at that moment, that I realized how much I cherish efficiency and simplicity.
Everything about this very small everyday occurrence fulfilled my expectations for how things should be quick an easy.
Now you may say to yourself, ‘well I don’t know if those are necessarily bad things are they Ben?’ To which I would reply, ‘it depends…’
You see, if you value efficiency so much that it impacts the aggressive nature in which you drive your motor vehicle (speeding, swerving, giving nasty glares to people who somehow don’t understand basic efficiency driving etiquette), you may have a problem of over-valuing efficiency.
I’ve decided for myself, as an example, that when I get like that on the road it’s not just because I’m impatient or need to control or have ‘road rage’… it’s because I value efficiency in all things. When people, places or things become a hindrance in this smooth functioning, I feel the need to assert myself so things will get back into working order.
And it’s the same for simplicity I would say…
If you value simple things such that you are not willing to do the hard, grinding work in the office that is required for creative problem solving, system development or program implementation all because you think it has to be simple enough to explain to a 3rd grader, you may have a problem (like me *wink emoji*) of over-valuing simplicity.
Still don’t buy what I’m selling? Well then think about it in terms of the following principle (that I am 100% convinced is true for all human beings)…
Every strength, gift, talent taken to an extreme may become a weakness, problem, blind spot.
You’ve probably experienced this or watched it in someone close to you, but here’s what I mean…
We are all naturally hard-wired with a certain set of gifts, talents and strengths. One of mine, for example, is energy. I’m a naturally energetic person. I don’t really require coffee most days. I drink it anyway because its delicious and amazing, but I could probably go without it.
This energy when managed well can lead to all sorts of fruitful activity. It’s useful for leading and motivating people when it’s at its contagious best. It’s good for getting stuff done in a timely manner. It’s good for spreading passion and building culture… all at its very best.
However, in some of its more unfavorable forms this “talent” of being an energetic person can look like: A.D.D:
-the inability to focus for ver long on one task and see it through to excellence…
-talking to other people in the office (double whammy-now you’ve taken out 2 people!)
-working harder when all that’s needed is smarter…
We have a saying at the church (which is what my supervisor would be looking for from me by the way), it’s “impact over effort.”
You get the gist, but the point is that I need to spend less time spinning my wheel, running all over the office, completing this laundry list of tasks (when these maybe aren’t even the right tasks by the way!), just because it expends lots of energy (that may give the false appearance of momentum by the way)!
What I need to do is harness that energy for focused action that leads to impact, excellence and results.
Here’s the principle: we all have these blind spots. If we’re not careful they’ll go from personal blind spots to bad culture creators, momentum barriers and organizational ceilings!
So here are 3 things I recommend you do…
Build in feedback loops... This could be 360 degree style where people (below, across and above you) are asked to assess and review you.
This could be setting up a blind feedback link where co-workers get an email then fill it out anonymously and you see the results.
Whatever you choose, it just needs to be early and often (hence the “loops” part, by the way, that means it’s build it, it’s frequent, it’s quarterly) and it has to be that way if you’re going to be healthy and growing.
This could also be hounding your significant other or friends who know you well to give you something that you can work on… their view from a ‘non-work angle’ might be the exact type of emotional feedback you need that affects every other relationship and context!
None of us no matter the age or tenure as leaders, at least leaders as lifelong learners, can say ‘we don’t need this… we are past this… or we’ve already heard all the feedback.’ The moment you resolve yourself to that type of thinking, you’ve just cemented that organizational ceiling right then and there.
Work your plan... In other words, once you receive that feedback (which is just data-by the way-cold, hard, FREE data and you’d be a fool to reject free data), begin the difficult work of leading change…
One of my favorite quotes that we’ve picked up over the last 6 months at our organization is that, ‘you don’t need a new plan, you just need to work the plan you have!’
The suggestion is: we know something is broken within our organization and simultaneously we see a plan or system that’s working “over there” so maybe we should implement their style or plan…
The truth is: you already have a plan and it’s tailor-made for you and your organization, you just simply have to build the guts and discipline to work the plan right where you are.
Get your feedback. Work it into your plan.
Give yourself (and others!) grace... This whole process is about humility-a very worthwhile humility because of what it will produce in all of your staff and organization-but humility is also painful. So give yourself and those around you an immense level of grace when rolling out this process.
When it comes to giving and receiving feedback, you’re really turning the corner for a healthy workplace. And around that corner, down the hall is the break room and that’s the place where people can get mean and nasty if they are not fully bought in to how this whole humble honesty thing is going to work. THAT’S why the delivery system of feedback must be grace.
When/what was the last piece of constructive criticism or feedback you received? Have you done anything in the way of self-improvement? Why or why not?