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Getting Our Mojo Back
By Bill Catlette

In our book, Contented Cows MOOve Faster, we wrote about the extra confidence, swagger if you will, that seems to accompany high performance workplaces, places like FedEx, Apple Computer, the U.S. Marines, and like, well, uh, America in general - at least until recently.

Owing to an accumulation of factors - a tarnished national image, failed leadership, and, to be sure a burgeoning financial crisis fueled in part by greed and unwise choices, we seem to have lost a good bit of our mojo.

At a recent presentation to the Economics Club of Memphis, Bruce Scherr, Chairman and CEO of Informa Economics gave a compelling, well reasoned assessment of the current economic situation. Among other things, Dr. Scherr volunteered that a "crisis of confidence" is central to what ails us financially, and that our economy likely won't improve much until our attitude improves.

While far from a Phil Gramm-like pooh-poohing of our present difficulties, he noted that roughly 93% of us are still employed, and generally making more money than we ever have.

It struck me that Dr. Scherr's observation about the importance of confidence is as applicable to the individual organization as it is the macro-economy. If we want our businesses to succeed, we've got to believe that they will do so, and, as importantly, evidence that belief through our words, actions, and appearance. Though as leaders we're generally not responsible for other people's attitudes, our example and our actions do a lot to shape the outlook and behavior of those around us, most particularly those folks who look to us for leadership. In that vein, the following measures seem apropos to regaining our A-game performance and mojo.

1. Think windshield, not rear view.
Consistent with good driving habits, don't spend a lot of time staring in the rear view mirror. The game is out in front of you. Stay forward focused, and make sure all hands on deck have a crystal clear picture of where the organization is headed, what its most immediate priorities are, and what role they are expected to play. With respect to that last item, I fervently hope that in his inauguration address, President Obama will ignite the flame of a national sense of obligation by spelling out clearly what skin all Americans need to put in the game.

2. Be like Your Favorite Football Team.
Football teams want to win their games as much as you and I want to win ours. Successful coaches get that way by setting and obtaining more immediate interim goals; things like winning the first quarter, getting a first down, or just gaining 4 yards on the next play. When they accomplish one of those things there is an immediate, on-field celebration. Indeed the NFL has even begun penalizing teams whose celebrations go beyond the bounds of good taste and sportsmanship. We would do well to mimic that game plan by setting relatively short term goals, and seeing to it that there are some well-celebrated successes. If you get flagged for a 15 yard excess celebration penalty once in a while, so what?

3. Keep your balance.
It's easy to get 'in the weeds' by focusing exclusively (or even largely) on slashing spending. Invest twice as much time and energy looking for meaningful ways to grow your business as you do looking for places and people to cut. Crisis breeds opportunity - a fact not lost on people like Andrew Carnegie, who founded Carnegie Steel in the teeth of the Panic of 1873, and Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard who started Hewlett Packard during the "Great Depression." To be sure, smart leaders are looking for ways to save, but they are also looking for fresh opportunities, be they new products or markets, facilities that have gotten a lot cheaper, or talented folks who fit their organization.

4. Hire attitudes.
Speaking of hiring, you may not be doing a lot of it right now, but do keep your eyes open, and when you do, hire positive, enthusiastic folks. They don't cost any more, and they are a heck of a lot more fun to work around. Besides, inside a barrel that has gotten considerably smaller of late, that one bad apple can do a lot of damage.

5. Keep your game face on.
Lastly, bear in mind that whether it is at home or work, most of us have others who look to us for guidance, direction, and a good example. We can't give that unless we've got our own head in the game and our chin strap buckled.

Until next month, Good luck and Godspeed!

Want a more engaged workforce? Want the performance benefits of creating a great place to work? Bring Bill Catlette or Richard Hadden in to speak or conduct leadership training for your organization, or to keynote your association's next convention.

Contact Geoff Knue at 317-873-0011 or to find out how we can make your next meeting a colossal success!

Here's a book we recommend: The Daily Six: Six Simple Steps to Find the Perfect Balance of Prosperity and Purpose. This is a great coaching manual for anyone who wants some practical guidelines for keeping things in perspective, while developing a prosperous career. The tough economy will present a seductive temptation to tip the scale in favor of work - over everything else. We all know that's not a good idea. This book underscores that.

A self-described "recovering big shot", author John Chappelear describes what he calls his "Gift of Desperation" that set him on a path to figure out how to fix a badly out-of-balance life. By developing "The Daily Six" - a list of (guess how many) simple but profound principles to practice every day (hence, the daily bit), he slowly, but surely, re-built a balanced life, replete with career success, meaning, fulfillment, and family.

Here's what we especially like about this book:
* It's short (130 pages).
* It's full of good stories. We like stories. We learn from stories. These are good stories.
* It's practical. There's nothing in it you can't do.
* It's actionable. There's nothing worse than a book full of lofty ideas, but no call to action.

You don't need us to tell you where you can buy a book. But I'd suggest you order it from Chappelear's website, He'll even sign it for you.

If you like our Fresh Milk newsletter, why not become a regular visitor to our blog?
Check back next month, when we're planning to begin our series of regular podcasts.

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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