Decision Points and Life Transitions

Didn’t January just scream by?  In that vein, and if you are like me at all, the goal setting process is intellectually important but can get pushed to something I’ll get to next weekend—kind of like my honey do list. Last year I introduced an easier way to put a few proverbial stakes—translated means goals or intentions—into the ground without the traditional baggage associated with the goal setting process.  Most goal setting that I have experienced can become one more thing to get accomplished; and like gravity; can fall to end of the list.

As a business owner, executive, or someone charged with leadership – are you getting the business results you want?  Things like; more sales, better customer service, higher efficiency and operational excellence?  If the answer is no then keep reading.  (If the answer is yes, I would sure hope you contact me for guest blogging opportunities.) We just finished our Highland quarterly strategic planning session.  These meetings are all hands on deck sessions that review prior quarter internal business goals and set the game plan for the coming quarter.  I have written about the success of these meetings in prior posts and what a change that has brought to our culture, team energy, and focus. There was an interesting new twist this recent meeting that I though was a relevant addition to the “bottleneck” conversation I started a couple weeks ago. As we discussed our company and individual goals and the associated success or failure, two important observations came into view that I hadn’t fully appreciate before, 1) we didn’t have enough detail about what we wanted to accomplish in the past quarter, and 2) the internal magnet of conflict avoidance kept us from having the type of results accountability conversations we needed to have. If you want to improve the results you are getting, here are few keys that I am finding are critical to getting better results and increasing momentum.

Are you in the way of your own business?  The answer to this question will greatly affect your future path and success--much more than you may believe. I didn't think this was true several years ago.  I was the founder of the company, the one who had built the relationships; I had worn all the hats at one time or another.  But about a year ago I got to a crossroads that many business leaders get to. In my experience there are two distinct paths I could take: Continue on as a lifestyle business, with the premise that the business will be built around me and the supporting cast of employees help you in that role or take the time to determine what specific skills the business needs that no one else can provide and then free the business to find the leadership to fill the gaps that you have vacated. Either decision, whether made consciously or not, have distinct advantages and risks. Staying in the middle without making a decision can be a limiting choice to you and the business; much more than you may believe. Since becoming aware of how crucial this decision is to our success I've taken the following steps that might be useful to you, or one of your clients' businesses:
  1. By affirming my original plan, I have taken an inventory of where I spend my time and where the company needs me to be spending my time.
  2. I have begun the process of "really" empowering my employees to take ownership of their areas of responsibility and to develop as leaders.  Note: this has the byproduct of reducing the number of decisions that have to flow through my office.  As many of you know and experience this is what creates much of the bottleneck and stress in businesses today.  I have really smart and talented men and women at my company so I needed to fully trust them and turn their potential loose.
  3. I have a much clearer sense of where my talent shortages are and so I can now respond to those specific areas of need exist.

Each one of us has weaknesses to accompany our strengths, and blind spots to offset our well-honed skills and abilities.  Wealth creators are no different here, and in my experience the missteps often fall into two categories: Not planning, or not planning effectively.  Here is a list of the top 10 foolish mistakes that wealth creators make: Not planning:  It’s painful, it’s not a priority, it’s not exciting.  It’s the “ostrich” approach (head in the sand)!  “Not planning” can sound like… 1.  “Why plan? It seems like I have plenty of money.” It’s common for people to underestimate the amount of assets required to create financial independence. Overspending is a risk at all wealth strata, especially in the U.S.  Lifestyle costs keep increasing over time without any restraints, and this can rapidly deplete your resource safety net. This has been especially pronounced during the financial market declines we have witnessed during the past decade. So, be aware of lifestyle costs and choices, and know what level of spending your wealth supports. 2.  “I don’t have wealth management needs because I don’t have liquidity.” This is the other side of the coin, and it is just not true, plain and simple.  Yes, you need liquidity at some point to pay for lifestyle and to enjoy your life, but many of the same planning issues need to be addressed regardless of whether you have a certain level of liquid assets.  Wealth creators, whether liquid or illiquid, need thoughtful wealth management.