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Last week we saw that the results of what we do depends on the combination of three factors,i.e. Knowledge (“I know”), Skills (“I can”) and Desire (“I want”).If any of the three are not measuring up to the task at hand, the result of our work will be less than good.We also saw that as long as we don’t change the way we see and do things, we will continue getting the same results. This week we will explore this a bit more. When my children were younger, I bought them some educative computer games called “Me and my world”. The children could choose to let a young fellow go around and discover his world. Clicking on items that were passed on the way would open information on history, nature, mathematics etc. The children really liked it and could spend hours working by themselves discovering more and more as they played along. It is the title of the game that always intrigued me. “Me and my world.” As if you are alone with no others around. That is what I often think when I observe people around me, going their way. It could be on the streets, in the traffic, in the office, anywhere. They are in their own world, not observing what is going on around them, strictly concentrating on their own activities, whatever they do. They don’t only take any notice of others; they actually don’t seem to care about them. In fact they seem to think that only themselves matter, not others, as if we don’t live in a so called interdependent world. They think: “Me first, then you.” I observe it in the traffic, in the bank, in the shop etc. Waiting and allowing others to go their turn doesn’t come to their mind. In the process they offend others or worse, they create obstacles for everybody else, including themselves, to move on. We experience this in traffic every day, when drivers overtake left, right and centre while there is a jam further down the road. While doing so they offend everybody else waiting in line and on top of that block oncoming traffic, increasing the jam. Instead of helping the situation they make it worse. Maybe their offensive behaviour will help them move on, but for how long and at what cost? They are in their own world, not realising that with a little more patience, respect, some assistance, giving some space to others, they will actually make a positive difference and help not only themselves but others too. This applies in every walk of life, not only traffic. It applies to the workplace and in the business as well. We are not alone and while getting out of our own small world, seeing the bigger picture, realising that we depend on one another will help a long way in achieving results. As long as we don’t see beyond our own little world, we will continue getting the results we always used to get, not necessarily the best.
So it is important to open our eyes, see beyond our immediate environment, look around, observe, widen our vision and learn to see things differently, try to see things through the eyes of another person.
When we stick to the way we see things we will continue doing things in the same way, getting the same results all the time. For example: If we see competition as a threat to our business, we will be defensive. We will not talk to others doing a similar business, then, keep information to ourselves. We may even go to the extent of frustrating, discouraging and boycotting them. As a result we will remain isolated in the sector, not learn from others, not get essential information, face similar hostile competition in return and so on.
What would happen if we would turn this example around? We would not see competition as a threat but instead as an opportunity, a healthy factor in the free market, a stimulus to produce better quality and provide better services, an opportunity to join hands and face common issues together. Now we would do things differently as well. We would not deal with competition as a threat but as a welcome development. We would try to always be a step ahead, assuring our place in the market. We would make sure our quality stands out and that our services are focused on the clients’ needs. We would be creative in our marketing strategies. We would welcome meeting people in the same industry and discuss how to tackle common problems, join hands and form an association for the better of the sector. And if you really have a passion for your business you would not worry about competition at all. You would always try to find ways to improve and to develop new designs, new products, new ways of doing things. By the time the competition is trying to copy what you are successful in, you will already have moved on to a next level. Those who copy are always a step behind and usually don’t reach the same quality. Customers will keep coming back to you to see what new products or designs you have on offer. Admitted, it requires you to be in your toes and never sit back, but that is why you are in business in the first place.
Another reason why it is important to communicate with the competition and to create a dynamic network is to make sure that all in the same sector adhere to certain quality standards. Because if there are some that produce similar items that don’t work or break down easily or are even dangerous, then that is harmful for the entire sector. So get together and be a leader in your sector is my advice.
I would like to leave you this week with the following assignment. Choose an issue in your business that you know needs some improvement. Then try to work out how you see it, how you are dealing with it and what the results have been so far. Having worked this out, now try to turn things around. Try and see the issue from a different perspective and think of ways to deal with the issue from this new perspective, how you could do things differently from now on. And finally try and imagine the results you would get, when you would do things differently.
My suggestion: don’t stick to the ways you have always seen and done things. Open your world and your horizon. See things differently. You may get better results indeed.