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Entries in strategic planning (7)


Maintenance or Excellence

According to the Random House Dictionary to "maintain" is, "to keep in existence or continuance." To "excel" is, "to be better or finer than (others)." I was thinking about the difference between maintaining and excelling as I was mowing the lawn. I can cut the grass, keep it from turning into a jungle and just maintain it. Or, I can spend some extra time and edge, fertilize, water the dry patches, dig out by hand the weeds that the "weed and feed" fertilizer didn't catch and make the lawn look a little nicer. I can go above and beyond-add that little extra effort that makes a difference. I can pursue excellence with my lawn so that it is "better or finer" than my neighbors.

What areas in our lives are we just maintaining when we should be excelling? You might not even have a lawn. You might not even care if your lawn makes it through the summer. But there are probably other areas that you care about that could use some edging, fertilizer and weeding. Think about your relationships. Are you improving, nurturing and working on your relationships or are you just maintaining-keeping them in existence? What about your job or career? Are you looking at better ways of doing things, making recommendations, improving your skills and pursing excellence? Or are you just continuing on, showing up, gathering a paycheck, doing the minimum and hoping something better comes along that will pay more?

Doing just a little more and pushing yourself towards excellence does take a little more time. There is a sacrifice and investment that comes with it. You might have to pick and choose what items you are OK with maintaining and what items you should excel in. But that should be a conscious decision that you make. In most cases, the time and energy spent in the pursuit of excellence isn't that much more than the time you are going to put in anyway. Excellence is more of a mind set. The satisfaction of a job well done is well worth the effort. Push yourself to get out of the box and do better.

Now if I could only remember who borrowed my weed eater!


Cut Out the Dreaming!

I recently read a book that was just published on time management. Like Juggling Elephants, the book points out the need to pick and choose what we do with our time because there are so many opportunities and not enough time to do everything. The author encourages that one way of picking and choosing is that if you don't do something very well or that you can't excel at it, then you shouldn't do it all. You need to focus on what you do well and maximize those things. That got me thinking. Should you cut something out just because you don't do it very well?

If you are an organization and one of your products isn't performing very well and the market responds in kind by not buying the product then yes, you probably should remove that from your "line up" or quickly improve. (Although I know some companies that don't do things very well - poor product quality or terrible service - yet they continue to keep the doors open and make large profits.) I do believe organizations should pursue excellence and focus on what they do well, removing the distractions of what they can't excel at. Point well taken – mostly.

But on the other hand, when it comes to your personal life or your "self ring" should you really abandon something just because you are not "good at it"? For example, I am a terrible gardener. But, every year I plant a garden with the usual plants. Bugs eat my produce, I forget to water half the time, weeds grow better than my lettuce and the cost is probably more than if I went to the store and bought the same amount of produce that I harvest. But, I still find value in planting a garden every year. It helps me relax and it gives me time with my family as we work together planting, weeding, watering, etc. There is a sense of pride for me picking and eating something that I have grown. I am not good at it, but it provides value to me. I enjoy it!

Someone might not be a good parent, but does that mean you just give up on parenting because you are not good at it? Definitely not! I think a big part of the benefit in doing something comes in the journey as we work on things that we are weak at and struggle through trying to get better.

Be careful about removing something from your line up that you value, like your dreams, just because you are not good at it. Kobi Yamada said, Don't run through life so fast that you forget where you've been and lose where you're going. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored every step of the way. Some of the things that we savor the most might not be the things that we do the best. Be careful about taking the life out of life.


Tips for Those Making Their Own Work Ring

USA Today had an insightful article recently entitled, Teen Entrepreneurs Offer Tips To Peers On Starting A Business. While the focus of the article was teen-oriented businesses, the tips are relevant for anyone building their own work ring. They included:

  • Don't let shortcomings thwart you
  • Expand upon your interests
  • Create a formal business plan
  • Scour for savings
  • Price wisely
  • Make taxes less taxing
  • Create a sound financial plan
  • Don't over invest in supplies/equipment
  • Promote your business and yourself
  • Know the rules
  • Carve out personal time
  • Stick with your dream


3 Questions to Ask to Trim Spending In Your Lineup

Almost every business (and individual, family and household) is looking for ways to reduce their spending. In the December 8 issue of Fortune Magazine, there is a great regular column by Jia Lynn Young entitled First. The following question was asked to a panel of 3 executives from major companies: I need to cut costs dramatically. How can I find smart ways to do it?

You'll have to buy the magazine or subscribe to Fortune to get the full article, but the panel as asked 3 questions to guide their responses. They were:

  • How do I identify where I'm spending too much?
  • Are there some cuts that are not worth taking?
  • What are some reductions companies often overlook?

Reflecting on your own answers is a good way to determine if your business is prepared to weather these difficult times and if you have the right leadership strategy. If you struggle with any of them, get the article.


Quote for These Times

One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment... If it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Much has been made of the similarities that faced Franklin D. Roosevelt when he took office and the bleak conditions to be faced by Barack Obama. While the quote by Roosevelt will probably well serve the incoming President, it also has great wisdom for each of us in these difficult times.

Simply doing nothing and "waiting out the moment" is not an option. If you need to better manage your finances, do it now. If you are in fear of losing your job you need to continue to do your best at your current job but also look at other options and possibilities. Continue to align your activities toward your desired outcomes. Do the best you can with the knowledge, skills and wisdom you have at this moment. The perfect opportunity to change rarely exists.

If your choice of action works to your advantage-Bravo! If not, modify it and try again. To do nothing lies contrary to another quote related to the circus...'"The show must go on!"