The (dictionary) definition of ‘winning’ is progress through struggle. So, hoping for a peaceful existence in the business world is like athletes striving to compete and win without having to perspire. Everything worth doing well involves an ongoing, positive struggle.
Every day we are faced with ongoing, positive struggles. We see them in:
• ‘Dating’ and getting married is nice and unchallenging, however staying married and being happy can be a serious struggle! I once tried to divorce my wife but she acted so childishly in court I was given custody of her.
• Having children is delightful, although I am told that childbirth can be a bit painful (which I know about because I cut myself shaving once)… but the teenage years can represent a sizeable struggle for all concerned.
… hoping for a peaceful existence in the business world is like athletes striving to compete and win without having to perspire
• Going through interviews and getting a good job can be demanding, but the real struggle is keeping the job and then impressing bosses and climbing to the next rung on the ladder… repeatedly! I had a boss once who liked to give people a raise just before he fired them, so that they felt like they were losing a better job!!
• Hiring staff can be tough but the real struggle is getting people to work as a team and to gladly operate by high standards of behaviour…aiming for nothing less than budget achievement. I had an employee once who told me ‘I want to get paid what I’m worth’…and I said, ‘sorry, we are not allowed to pay less than the award’.
The point then is that for an Optometry Practice, team or individual to succeed, a sense of positive struggle must prevail at all times… however the related keys to striving for achievement are purpose and enjoyment.
In other words people must be driven ‘at work’ by honourable aims, otherwise the path will lead to indulgence and not excellence… and healthy enjoyment comes from doing a tough job well, not from taking it easy. Business targets comprise a small part of a success formula: the first thrust involves ‘what will be given in service to those we serve?’, while budgets reflect a secondary aim of ‘what will we earn from those we serve?’ Higher service means higher revenues.
If the ‘order’ of these two aims gets mixed up then problems of many kinds will come home to roost.
The ‘struggle’ in business begins with satisfying customers, as opposed to ‘pacifying customers’…meaning that first we ‘listen to what is wanted’ but then we must ‘help people to achieve what they need’ (the best result).
For satisfaction to be delivered to customers, a company team must work well together, using respect and support for each others’ contributions to the achievement of successful results. The next step is that a team that works to satisfy customers must interact positively with other teams that can either add or subtract from customer success. For example, if a customer is happy after going through an eye test, but then finds that the retail area is far less professional and helpful… disaster will follow.
An Elevated Focus
The final stage is the cooperation of the practice team with ‘senior management’. The role of teams is to face and master the struggle of productive work, and management must provide insights into how team efforts can best work for customers and the business. In order to succeed in battle, soldiers need an aerial view of proceedings from those in command, and a practice team needs an elevated focus from management on what needs to be done and how best to do it… and why it is important.
So, if external business ‘conditions’ ever prove to be advantageous and customers and revenue fall easily into your lap, then be thankful and make hay while the sun shines as they say… but also be very wary because such a situation is opposite to the internal struggle that must drive efforts at all times.
We don’t build our physical strength by lifting feathers and we can’t develop business results by having a dependence on favourable conditions. The lesson then is hopefully very clear: an organisation that is ‘at peace’ and which displays few, if any, signs of an enjoyable, enduring struggle for all teams… is moving towards a position of great commercial danger!
John Lees is a speaker, trainer, consultant and the author of 11 books on sales, marketing, service and leadership. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.johnlees.com.au