How many meetings do you find yourself in without a clear objective? Do you get stressed in the meeting knowing that the real work is building up while you are stuck? Does the meeting organizer fool anyone when he is unprepared?
“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” –Thomas Sewell
Years ago, I was introduced to the concept of the “three P’s” at a Wilson Learning sales training seminar. It was introduced as an effective sales tool. Throughout the years, I have used the three P’s as a way to conduct effective meetings of any kind. It isn’t just a sales technique. It can be a way to save a lot of time and energy and focus the meeting on the objective.
“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” –Thomas Sewell
The other day I posted the best book covers. The artists and designers who create book jackets deserve recognition for the outstanding job they do. Whether we realize it or not, the cover is often responsible for drawing us in.
Kicking off this year, I am thinking about the goals I have for the year. The book covers offer a metaphor for our goal-setting process.
Glancing at a book cover, we judge the content and the author. When strangers look at us, like it or not, they often judge us in the same way. They take a look, and judge on our appearance. Unfortunately, this is common before anyone even understands our story.
MOST NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOCUS ON THE COVER
Is your goal this year to lose weight? Stay on that diet? Exercise more? Eat healthier? Like a book cover, we often focus on how the world sees us by focusing on our physical appearance. We don’t stop there. We also think about our reputation. Reputation defender services now help combat unwanted or unfair reviews online.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Lao Tzu
I can hear some of you saying, “Wait. Skip, it’s the inside that matters!” Some of you may be thinking about the verse in Samuel: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
I love what Jim Rohn said about that thought. He said, “Work on the outside for people. Work on the inside for God.”
NEW YEAR GOALS
If your life was a book, you would want the cover to be an award winner, and you would want the narrative to be superbly written. Design your goals the same way.
Keep your external goals. Losing weight may be just what you need. Regular exercise may just save your life. Eating more vegetables is always a good idea. But make sure to add internal goals to your list.
1. Divide your goals into two lists: the cover and the story.
A COVER goal is anything that is visible. This list could include such things as quitting smoking, getting a better job or obtaining your ideal weight. Anything that is seen by other people and the outside world goes in this column.
A STORY goal is what’s on the inside and goes into the second column. Do you want to be a better friend? How about being less critical and more positive? What are your spiritual goals?
When I first became a CEO, I noticed something strange.
In a meeting, I was suddenly funnier. The slightest hint at humor could erupt the room into laughter. I was also smarter. And my arguments were more persuasive. Heads would bob up and down as I made a point.
Obviously my new title didn’t bestow some magical gift of brilliance. What it provided was positional power, and people were reacting to the position.
Immediately, I knew what happened. It took me longer to figure out what to do about it.
I’d seen this much earlier in my career when people would “parrot” the CEO. I call it the Parrot Principle. To get along and be accepted, some find it’s just easier to parrot the CEO than to think critically, to argue, or to be independent. Why rock the boat when you can just agree and repeat what you’re told?
The cause is usually fear. Fear of losing a job or of not being in the inner circle. It’s also a symptom of a culture needing change.
Because of a lack of self-confidence, a fear of job loss, or an extreme need for acceptance, it is easier to agree with the boss than to advance a different point of view.
The result is usually what I call a “pocket veto” where people nod in a meeting, then go outside and talk about what they really believe. It’s bad for everyone. The company is not served well. The CEO may not even realize what’s happening. And the parrot is building distrust throughout the organization.
It’s not just the new CEO who faces this problem. It’s almost any new position of power. If others are dependent on you, you can be vulnerable to the Parrot Principle.
It’s when Congress passes a bill, but the president does not sign it within ten days after Congress adjourns. Effectively, it means that the bill is dead. After all the committee meetings, the bill is passed in the House of Representatives and then the Senate, but the bill does not become law.
The president can sign bills into law or he can veto them. He can also use the political maneuver of a pocket veto and do nothing.
My version of a pocket veto is different. It happens in organizations.
One of the biggest problems in business isn’t failure. It’s failing too slowly.
The biggest failure of all is never failing at all. If you never fail, you are playing it too safe. You are taking zero risk. A culture with a fear of failure is a culture doomed tofailure. Others in the marketplace will pass you by, and it may be too late by the time you realize it.
“The biggest failure of all is never failing at all.” -Skip Prichard
Failing quickly is much better than failing slowly. Have you ever been in a business and known something was going to fail? For whatever reason, the project marches onward. Meanwhile, everyone who touches it knows the project is doomed. Yet on it goes, sometimes for years. I’ve seen some huge, expensive projects continue when, if someone would just do a reality check, the decision to kill it would be obvious.