FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | 15 Minutes
A couple weeks ago I finished my second marathon. My effort was nothing terribly notable, except that I was hoping to beat my first time by a significant margin. I did. I ran 15 minutes faster than my first.
However, my time is discouraging when I compare it to my potential. I’ve only been a runner for about 3 years; I know I have plenty of room for improvement. Plus, I know how fast other guys my same age and build are running. Scores of them are significantly faster than I am. For example, I came in 174th place in my age group (out of 416). The guy who took second place in the marathon OVERALL was one year older than me! Now that’s something to strive for.
So what’s the best way to improve? Compare myself to me or compare myself to others? I think the answer is both.
Often in business we compare ourselves to the rest of the field. How are the top players in our industry faring. Where is our market share? How fast are we growing? Are we number one? There is healthy competition that can motivate an entire organization to rally behind significant revenue and growth goals, in pursuit of that top prize.
Then again, it’s also important that we don’t just settle for being on top of the heap. Oh sure, it feels good to be in first place. But we should also compare ourselves against our own potential. When we don’t, we could be settling for good enough instead of becoming our very best.
Living The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a tried and true method of balancing both approaches to success. The Private Victory is represented by the first three Habits of Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and Put First Things First. These lead me to mastery over self. Coupled with the Public Victory of Habits 4, 5 and 6, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand…, and Synergize, they permit me to collaborate with others in a way that differentiates our collective performance, allowing us to stand apart from the crowd and achieve our very best.
So, I suppose the next marathon I’m running in May 2011 will give me a chance to test this theory. My focus during training: Keep one eye on pushing for ever-faster splits and pace while training my other eye on the pace of those who ran the same race last year.
Ask yourself: In what ways can I and my organization learn from the successes of our competition? Where are we not testing our potential, because we’ve become complacent with “good enough?”
This is Grain Valley Muffler in Grain Valley, Missouri. I will always have my cars inspected and repaired here. I tell everyone about their service, speed, and amazing value. No. I boast about them!
My first visit to this shop 4 years ago was right after another service station told me they couldn’t pass my car’s inspection until I had an exhaust leak repaired. Fully expecting to hear the Grain Valley repairman tell me that I would need to replace my muffler, pipe, and perhaps a number of other items, I braced for the worst.
About 15 minutes had passed, when an attendant reappeared in the waiting room. “You’re good to go!” he said.
”What do you mean?” I replied, insinuating I hadn’t authorized any services to be performed.
”Oh, there was just a small leak in the line, so I simply spot welded it shut. You’re good to go!”
That’s all fine and dandy, I thought. But how much was this unauthorized service going to set me back? “How much do I owe you?” I implored.
”Don’t worry about it,” he said, “It was too small to bother with any charges. You’re good to go!”
I had to double-check the date in my FranklinCovey planner to confirm it didn’t say the year 1953. Does this kind of thing happen anymore?
That was just the beginning of a string of similar gratis services. Oh sure, I’ve had more extensive repairs along the way that have cost me the price of parts and labor. But I NEVER question whether what they are doing or charging is fair. Can you say the same thing about your repair shop? Your accountant? Your cell phone carrier? Your airline? Your local government?
I estimate that occasional repairs on my high-miles vehicles have totaled around $1000 per year. That’s where loyalty IS the bottom line. They don’t advertise, they’re even out of my way, and their shop isn’t going to win any Popular Mechanics awards for aesthetics. But I know I can always trust them.
For your organization, what is your customers’ loyalty worth each year. Is the level of trust customers have in your brand building loyalty or eroding the relationship? For you personally, what is your employer’s loyalty worth to you each year? Add up your salary, benefits, time off, and bonuses. Are you continuously building more trust in your personal “brand” or are you gradually losing relevance in your field?
Fortunately there are very specific things each of us can do to build trust in our brands – 13 Behaviors, to be exact. If you want to study this challenge further, grab a copy of Stephen M. R. Covey’s best-selling book, “The Speed of Trust.” It’s all in there!