My Belief is Stronger Than Your Doubt


The date of January 1 each year brings a varied list of emotions and feelings.  To some, it could be the idea of starting over and forgetting the previous 12 months.  For others, January 1 brings the idea of continuing all of the positive trends that occurred in the past 365 days.  And for the leaders who are multipliers, the New Year establishes hope and optimism in leading others to achieve personal and professional milestones.  These goals and resolutions create a method of setting objectives, leading to the incredible feeling of accomplishment when achieving them, and also holding yourself accountable when falling short and figuring out why.

Hopefully, nobody goes into a year with a goal of “I am going to finish the year ranked last in my company’s bonus pool” or “I am going to be the worst manager I know”.  Conversely, we set goals of “I’m going to make more money this year than last” or “I am going to work out 3 days a week and lose 20 pounds by March” as tasks we wish to accomplish.  If you look at your team from last year, what separates the people who exceeded their goals versus ones that fell short?

To me, it is the difference of being COMMITTED to the process of succeeding versus being invested in success.  There are many people who say they are invested in reaching a goal…they only do the work asked of them and only focus on results.  When I see people who are COMMITTED to exceeding their targets by tackling weekly or monthly objectives, these are the ones who show the grit and determination in the process, knowing that success will follow suit.  An example…when my father was training for a marathon, he had certain miles he had to run each day/week to be fully prepared for the day of the race.  The weather outside did not matter to his training and he ran in any type of weather (and this was in the 1980’s so the availability of treadmills and indoor gyms was not as prevalent as it is today).  On the day he was supposed to complete a 20 mile run, the weather was below freezing and he came home with icicles in his hair from the sweat freezing so quickly.  He was committed to hitting his weekly target to achieve his end goal of finishing a marathon.  On the flip side, the person who was invested in this same training regimen might have taken the day off because of the bad weather.  They are still capable of finishing the race, but may not have the resiliency to succeed, no matter what obstacles are thrown their way.

As a leader, how do you get your team committed to achieving their resolutions and keeping them on track for the year?

  1. Goals/Resolutions have to be written down, visible, and SMART: This seems to be a very basic concept however many people write down a goal or resolution and forget it 30 days later.  I ask my team to hand-write their goals and take a picture of them to keep on their phones or in their cars/offices…A person will relate more to a goal written in their own handwriting versus one typed in a “Calibri” or “Arial” font on their computer.  And each goal must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
  2. Change the mindset about Resolutions and Goals: People who are committed say “I WILL have a great year this year” versus “I hope to have a good year this year”. Leading your people to think about their goals with this positive mindset will lead to improved performance, if their belief is stronger than someone else’s doubt.
  3. Shout Praise and Whisper Criticism: Most of us crave recognition of a job well done. And while we welcome coaching on areas of improvement, a diminishing leader will focus longer and harder on the areas you are not succeeding in and the need to show improvement.   An example is the parent whose child brings home a report card with 4 “A’s” and 1 “C”.  The parent should focus on recognizing the positive “A” grades more than criticizing the “C”. While not rewarding “C” work, make sure to have balance.  Pay more attention to what people do well versus what their gaps are.

Here are some quotes of praise that you can share with your team…once you share the quote, make sure to cite the specific reason for the acknowledgment.  And instead of recognizing the result, praise the process.  Even if you are recognizing the little things that everyone should be doing, this positive reinforcement will turn an average day into a potentially great one and your team will know you care about their development:

  • I appreciate the attitude you bring to work every day…
  • I am proud of you…
  • I am lucky to work with you…
  • Our team needs you to be a leader and help us through this situation…
  • What you just did was so extraordinary…
  • Thank you for working so hard…
  • I know you can accomplish more…
  • You continue to impress me…

“How Full is Your Bucket” is a great book by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton and is a quick read on how to have a happier and more fulfilling life.  The concept is one that my team has been working on over the last year in helping us adapt a true “Multiplier” leadership culture.  Having a balance between praise and criticism is just as important in building up your team’s morale and performance as any tactical or strategic plan with proper execution.  And consistently having a full bucket will help bring you sanity in a somewhat cynical world.  Leading your team to be committed to a specific process versus just focusing on results will bring happiness to you and the people you influence, for 365 days a year.


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