Last week, I was part of a team that traveled to another city to visit some of our competitors. Although we’ve done this several times before, I always find it valuable. I was reminded again how easy it is to fall behind – as brands, as organizations and as individual leaders.
What does falling behind look like? It has infinite manifestations. Here are a few examples…
For brands, you can look at the décor in their establishments and the products they offer. Is the brand relevant?
For organizations, you can look at their market share – is it growing?
For leaders, are you constantly learning? Are you applying what you’re learning?
You wouldn’t think these things would be too hard to see. Why do leaders miss them? Many reasons...
We can get so emotionally tied to our current methods we lose touch with reality.
We can also become comfortable, even complacent.
We may not be hungry, but our competition usually is. That’s a recipe for disaster. There’s an African proverb that captures this idea well…
Every morning on the plains of Africa, a lion awakens to the reality that if it can’t outrun the slowest gazelle, it will starve. At the same moment, the gazelle starts its day with the acute awareness that unless it can outrun the fastest lion, it will be eaten. So, whether you’re a lion or a gazelle – keep running!
How do you fall behind? When you apply yesterday’s answers to today’s questions beyond the point they’re still valid. That’s the tricky part! The answers you and I provide worked at some point in the past.
Here’s an example from my life… I ate like an unsupervised 12-year old for about 45 years. If I wanted pizza or chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, that’s what I’d eat. Also, after my college years, exercise was sporadic. The good news, based on my genes and my metabolism, these crazy health habits had no apparent side effects. I was lean and my weight was constant.
Then, something happened. It was as if someone flipped a switch. I started to gain weight. I had to immediately change my diet and I've had to work for years to make exercise part of my life. Had I continued to apply my old answers to questions regarding diet and exercise, I’d weigh 800 lbs. today.
The same idea is true in business and the non-profit world, old practices worked at one time. However, most run their course.
How can we keep from falling behind? I’ll share just one idea today. It’s something you can work on the rest of your life…
This may seem crazy, but I’m serious. You may be thinking, “Pay attention to what?” Everything! Your habits, the habits of others; the way other brands present themselves; the way other leaders do their work; the feelings and emotions that stir in you when you encounter your product or service – or your competitors. Leaders master the art of attention. Learn to see everything. As you mature as a leader, you should even become skilled at seeing the unseen. That’s a big part of what leaders do. All of this is predicated on our ability to really see what's happening around us.
Don’t let your team or your organization fall behind on your watch!
If you and I stop trying to stay current, we’ll be lucky if we just fall behind. If we’re not so lucky, we may starve or be eaten.[GLS_Shield]
What do you do to keep from falling behind?