Two weeks ago, I underwent bypass surgery at MGH. "Big Success" is all I wanted to hear, and those were the exact two words scribbled boldly across my discharge papers. What's ahead are a few weeks of recovery and exercise, and then, just as I have heard from hundreds of blog readers and Facebook friends, "better than before". That phrase by itself raises a lot more questions, and one of the most important of those to be answered is that of "What's Important?".
See, I thought that I was already "better than before", and have always exercised every day, and snowboarded and surfed on the weekends. Couple those activities with relatively good diets, and I should be the postercild for "Healthy (older) Boy" of the year. 2014 didn't seem to end that way, but on the very positive side of all of this, 2014 is now way back in the rear view mirror.
- I've shaken the fingers of cancer last year and pummeled it to nothing.
- I now have a tweaked up heart ready to get back to work in a few weeks, return to the beach in June and snowboard next season.
- I have superb customers and friends and absolutely love what I do.
In 2015, "What's Important?"
It being toward the end of the month of resolutions, and me having the luxury of recuperating and thinking through a lot of this, I've already answered this question in detail for myself, and it's printed boldly on my office wall. A solid convergence of health, family, customers, hard work and friends. From my love of Derby Management to my passion for Tufts, MIT and Common Angels to something new that I am planning to do at work. I've figured this out, or, at least, at this time in the year, have a somewhat definitive plan for personal improvement and business growth.
But I also understand that most resolutions fade away. Hard data actually shows that personal resolve toward those "easy-to-say resolutions" during the first week of January, actually start to waver during this "hard-to-start" week, which shows just now difficult it is to make a new habit stick. It's the exact reason that gym memberships spike during the first week of January and fall sharply off by 10% only four weeks later in February. In fact, since reseach shows that it takes about 66 days to form a habit that will lead to demonstrative change, the answers to "What's Important? require even stronger resolve and more attention to detail during the initial two or three months of the year.
A critical component of that resolve requires specific answers to questions that every sales manager, and every sales professional should be asking right now while they are creating their specific Q1-Q2 action plans...
Take the concept of creating an overall business plan for the entire company, and bring that concept all the way down to just you. Your plan, yoru achievements, your future!
- What do I need to change at work that will make a difference in my sales performance between now and June or now and December?
- What are the specific quarterly objectives that I need to achieve by the end of March, June, September and next December? Your objectives, not your bosses. Your numbers, not assigned quota.
- What are the personal learning objectives that I need to achieve this year? What sales skills or what customer/market education do I need to add to my personal sales playbook?
- What are the specific metrics, milestones, achievements and awards that I know that I can realize?
Three years ago in January, I met the President of a division of a large international bank at my qym. Great guy, a little bit on the chunky side, and I thought that come March, we would have seen the last of him. Except that his objective was not to lose weight, but to participate in just one of the Tough Mudders. Two years later, he's completed three of these over-the-top-events including their 24 hour mega-endurance run.
His personal achievements are...
- A more focused mental discipline for an already highly motived guy
- He translated that same discipline to his team's operating performance
- Was just promoted to run all of the international divisions of the bank
- ...and, oh yea, lost a ton of weight along this journey.
As we rapidly approach the end of the first month of the year, all of us would do well to voice the proverb of the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu-
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
...and take action now (as in this weekend) to figure out the answers to the question of "What's Important?" and then. at the very least, create an outline, or actually take it beyond the outline stage and begin to detail out an actual plan to get from this step to that step.
Personally, I'm looking forward to 2015 and all that it will bring! At work. At Tufts and MIT, And at Common Angels.
Best of everything that you can accomplish this year...just because you can! It's all up to how you set these goals right now and hold yourself accountable to execute every day, week and month.
Welcome to 2015. Gonna' be a great year...as long as you're planning for it.