March 2022
The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
Avoiding the Status Quo Trap


Avoiding the Status Quo Trap

The two articles in this month’s newsletter work together to help you focus on your company’s growth. As a business owner, you spend most of your time running your business. There is always something to be done, customers to be looked after, staff to be managed, money to be controlled. All of that, of course, is important, but if you are not careful, you will forget that you also have to direct the business. Take your hands off the wheel for too long, and your company is likely to veer off course and potentially crash. In today’s fast-changing world, treading water is a dangerous thing.

Take an hour or so away from your business and ask yourself the following five questions (okay, there are more than five, but each one precipitates a few more things you need to consider). Go for a walk or sit on a bench in the park; find somewhere you know you won’t be disturbed. This exercise isn’t meant to be a long planning session or anything. It’s simply about pausing your busy life to take stock and encouraging your brain to recognize a few things that may be important to your company’s growth.

  1. How do you see your company growing over the next few years? Think big picture. If you do nothing, your business will continue moving along either forward or backward. Businesses rarely preserve the status quo. Going back to our previous analogy, if you do nothing actively to direct your business, it will begin to drift – the question is, in what direction?
  2. Are you still motivated? Does your business excite you as much as it used to when you first started? Do you still have a sense of purpose? Can you see short, mid, and long-term goals? Is your company making an impact, a difference? Are you feeling the passion? If not, why not? What can you do to revive your energy and drive?
  3. What do you need to move forward? Think about what excites you, maybe a new product, a new location, a sales promotion, or hiring someone new to free you up to explore new avenues. What is your biggest frustration? What could you do to free yourself from it and move on?
  4. What could your company do that it isn’t currently doing? Put aside for a moment financial or staffing restrictions or any other excuses such as you simply don’t have time. The critical question here is, is your company living up to its true potential? Once you have identified some of the things your company could be doing that will promote growth and bring back some excitement, ask your employees whether they think the company is living up to expectations. What do they think the company might do? You might be surprised at some of the innovative ideas they have. Only at that point, start to look at the practical issues of making it happen. You will be surprised how challenges can be overcome when there is enough energy in the room.
  5. Hopefully, you are still sitting on your bench or strolling through a park, or sitting in a sauna. Now, think about your role in the business. What do you do every day? Are you good at it? Are you making the best use of your strengths and skills? Even more important, do you enjoy your role in the business? If not, you are handcuffing yourself and your company. Consider reorganizing your company, so you can do more of what you are good at and what you enjoy. Passion is a driving force in a business. When work is drudgery, not a lot of good happens.

Imagination is a powerful force. If you imagine it, it can happen. If you don’t bother to think about the future, you will be at the mercy of the winds of change. And, they can be scary.

The following article will provide tips on reaching any goals you may have set after your pause to take stock of your company.

Avoiding the Status Quo Trap


A 10-Step Goal-Reaching Guide

Following the lead article in this month’s newsletter, you may have thought of some corporate goals which would be advantageous to your company’s growth. The following ten steps will help you reach those goals. Get a notebook or journal or use an electronic device and commit your plan and its progress to paper.

  1. Identify one or two of your most important goals and write them down. Be concise but provide enough detail to be clear about what you want to achieve. Break down your goals into action points and objectives.
  2. Write down why this particular goal is important to you or your company. List the reasons. It is critical you fully understand the motivation behind your goal(s). They have to have a purpose.
  3. Create a list of staff, family members, and anyone else important to you and the company and share your goals and objectives. Ask for their help and enlist at least one person whose job is to keep you honest – that is, keep you on track.
  4. Note down the information, knowledge, skills, and expertise needed to implement the action points listed in your objectives. Solicit the help of senior employees, mentors, and experts, while also carrying out your own research.
  5. Describe what outcome would constitute a win for your business. For instance, how will you tell whether you are making progress or have reached a goal? What difference will it make to your company’s bottom line or market share?
  6. Acknowledge that there will be setbacks. List the things that could go wrong on the journey to reaching your goal(s) and plan for them. Think: if (a) happens, we’ll do (d). If (b) hits us, we’ll pivot and go to plan (z).
  7. Set a personal intention. Write a note briefly outlining your intention, using anything from a paper post-it note stuck to your computer screen to a reminder app providing a daily pop-up message. Keep your intention constantly in front of your mind. Monitor how you feel about your goal(s) every day – perhaps use a one-to-ten scale. Note it down! If you begin to lose enthusiasm, ask yourself why? Do you need to change the goals or some of the objectives? Sustained motivation is critical; without it, you will drift off track.
  8. Communicate regularly with everyone involved in helping you reach your goal(s), either directly or indirectly, and seek their feedback. Be ready to pivot as and when necessary. If any member of your team has an observation, encourage them to reach out to you rather than wait for you to ask.
  9. Track progress on your action points and objectives. Regularly review whether you need additional information or external help. Set small targets on the road to reaching your goal. Tracking constant forward motion is vital.
  10. Celebrate achievements, however minor—both your own and those of the other players helping you.

A little planning goes a long way. Those thoughts you had about your company’s future will remain just that, thoughts unless you actively work toward making them a reality. Don’t let your company hang out for too long in “status quo land,” or you’ll find it falling behind the competition.

Avoiding the Status Quo Trap


Coach's Corner - Two Ears – One Mouth

The heart of true communication lies in listening, not speaking. That’s why you often hear, “you were given two ears and only one mouth for a reason.”

“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It’s a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.” — Deborah Tannen, author and professor of linguistics, Georgetown University

To fully understand people, you need to listen without judgment, avoid jumping in with comments and resist filling in any blanks in what they are saying. You should also focus on listening rather than planning what you will say next.

Here are six ways to help you become a better listener.

  • Avoid interrupting. Before asking a relevant question or offering your thoughts, wait for a pause in the conversation; this shows respect for the speaker. When you interrupt without a good reason, you send the message that what the other person is saying doesn’t matter or isn’t worthwhile.
  • Give your full attention. By ensuring no distractions (cell phones, computers, etc.), you demonstrate that you care about what the other person has to say.
  • Ask open-ended questions. To ensure you understand their position ask open-ended questions; these encourage a deeper conversation with greater comprehension. An example might be, “What is important to you about this decision?” Open-ended questions discourage a simple yes or no answer and elicit more profound and thoughtful responses.
  • Listen without giving advice or trying to solve their problem. When you genuinely listen and ask meaningful questions, you demonstrate that you are doing so without judgment. Acting in this way helps the speaker solve their problem on their own.
  • Restate what they have said. An excellent way to ensure you have heard a person correctly is to restate or rephrase what they have said. For example, you might say, “Is this what you meant?”
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Empathy goes a long way to help understand and appreciate another person’s point of view.

“To learn through listening, practice it naively and actively. Naively means that you listen openly, ready to learn something, as opposed to listening defensively, ready to rebut. Listening actively means you acknowledge what you heard and act accordingly.”— Betsy Sanders, former senior vice president and general manager, Nordstrom

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching


The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
4757 Tebo Avenue. Port Alberni BC V9Y 8A9
Phone: 250-724-1241