It’s a Journey, not a Sprint!

As many high schools, colleges, and universities prepare for commencements over the next month, many students will enter the “real world”.  As stated in the song “Closing Time” by Semisonic, “Every new beginning is some other beginnings end.”

For students they may enter the workforce, the military, or choose to continue their education at one of this country’s institutions of higher education.  When the pomp and circumstance is over, each person will now have to make their individual decisions for the rest of their lives.  Some will make good decisions, others, not so good.

In my house, we have volume’s of the “Book of Dumbass” as we affectionately refer to it.  Each day we live, we add another page, each month another chapter, and each year a new volume.  My boys know that each decision they make has a consequence, both positive and negative, and my wife and I hope we have instilled good decision making qualities in both of our sons.  For them making a bad decision is not the end of the world, as we all have made them in our lives.  Life is a journey, not a sprint. 

It is important throughout our careers and our lives that each of us remember that what we do is a journey, not a sprint.  We need to enjoy all that our experiences offer us.  You hear professionals comment all the time how the low points in careers made them stronger and better equipped to make tough decisions, or execute a plan, or a play in the future.  The experiences we all have as professionals and individuals provide us the tools and resources to draw upon to make better future decisions.

As leaders, it is up to us individually to mentor those around us.  Allow others to draw on our experiences, but also allow others to make mistakes as they create their experiences.  Losing or failing should never deter anyone.  Look at Abraham Lincoln.  Business failures, bankruptcy, elections losses, and ultimately became one of the most important figures in American or for that matter World history.  For him, life was a journey, not a sprint.

I had the privilege to coach youth football with someone in Oklahoma.  One of the mantra’s of that team was “Never, never quit”.  We would chant it before each game.  It instilled an attitude of long term success, even if the short term results were not successful.  Each player that played for him is developing into a winner in their own rights, both on and off the field.

As each person begins their next chapter in life, remember it is a journey, not sprint.



Keep It Simple Stupid!  K.I.S.S.

Those who know me, know that I always have a sports analogy.  I will refer to the movie Bull Durham, again….

“Baseball is a simple game.  You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”  Those are the basics of the game.

As leaders we are always looking to increase productivity, heighten performance, and get the most with limited resources.  As a result, we tend to move away from the basics that have earned successes.  By using the KISS methodology, we typically will improve performance and productivity that is usually a sustained, not a band-aid improvement.

In my contact center, we have basic rules for the center that cover minimum expectations of employee conduct.  Aside from that, the expectations are simple, we answer the phone, or launch a call, we assist the customer to the best of our ability, and we provide resources for the customer.  It is simple.  The staff understands what the expectations are, as well as what the expectations are of our external customers.  K.I.S.S.

The focus of K.I.S.S. is not just on keeping things basic, but also focuses on culture.  In order for K.I.S.S to be successful, the culture of the organization needs to be focused on making things simpler, not more complex.  This starts from the initial interview and making sure that people that are hired into the organization, division, department, etc., share the same cultural beliefs. 

The culture of the organization needs to be customer focused.  At the end of the day, it is the customer experience that leads to organizational success, not if the organization is always adding bells and whistles that are not need.  If the organization loses touch with what the customer values, then the organization will lose customers.  Invest in keeping things simple for the front line staff, and everyone wins.  K.I.S.S.

Over the next month, take a look at the process and procedures within your organization.  Do they meet the K.I.S.S test?  If not, invest project time in simplifying them.  Your staff will be happier which will lead to improved customer satisfaction.

Remember – Keep It Simple Stupid!