by Jan Richards
“I want what I want, and I want it NOW!”
That sounds like a little kid having a tantrum, right?
That was me, 27 at the time, on a gray, blustery day in the new city where we were moving.
My husband…who’d just accepted a great new job we didn’t expect just then, but which he couldn’t turn down…wanted to push on as we looked for the next place we’d call home.
I just wanted lunch.
Well, that, and to be listened to.
I quietly worried about how we’d afford a second house while we tried to sell our first one (a house we’d only owned for four months) in a difficult Midwestern economy.
And I wondered what jobs the new city might have for me…again, in a very difficult economy.
I’d just started a new magazine for my current employer and had hoped to see it through its first important year of groundwork and growth.
Finally, in the wintry mid-afternoon wind of this not-yet-friendly city, I’d had enough of “making do,” being flexible, and not being listened to…by my husband, or, frankly, by myself, either.
I wasn’t being honest about what I wanted, up until that point.
“I want what I want, and I want it NOW!”
You know the feeling, too.
I know you do.
And you may know that feeling as the leader of a team or company.
When I think of this phrase applied to leaders I’ve worked with, I remember one client, in particular. He was one of the founders of a very rapidly growing financial services company.
I used to joke with him that what he REALLY wanted was to “defy the laws of business physics.”
In other words, he “wanted what he wanted” – major improvements in the way, and ease, with which work got done at his company – and “he wanted it NOW!”
He’d had enough waiting for change to move at a normal pace through his company.
If you and your team “want what you want, and you want it NOW!” but you’re nowhere near the point of having it, these may be some of the reasons you’re struggling:
1. You’re not listening to yourselves, or each other.
Speaking from my own experience in the situation I’ve just described, and also, as a team leader and team member, at different times, listening is where you should start.
Are you listening to yourself?
Are you listening to each other?
Listening well, and fully engaging everyone in a project – and keeping them well-informed throughout it – can be far more powerful than you would guess in terms of creating success.
2. You don’t really know what you want…even if you DO know what you DON’T want.
Sometimes you know what you don’t want.
It’s what you have now.
But instead of that…you want…what, exactly?
If not knowing what you want is a problem for you or your team, try this (really…just try it):
– Imagine you have a magic wand, and can make any change that you want, right now.
– Now, imagine using that magic wand, and being in the new situation.
– Describe it. What’s “most different” from the situation you have now?
3. You don’t believe you can have what you want.
Sometimes teams don’t believe they can really have what they say they want.
To be fully activated, and on board, it helps to “pre-experience success.”
One way to do this is to envision success in detail, and to imagine the process of successfully getting there…over, around and through barriers you may experience on the way there.
Your team may also need more coaching, feedback, and peer interaction as they adjust to the changes they are going through.
4. You don’t know how to get what you want.
Wanting something, and actually being able to achieve it, are two very different things.
There are many ways to figure out how to get started, once you know what your goal really is.
Here are just a few of them:
– Research the best ways of doing the job.
– Take training.
– Observe, and ask questions of people who’ve already achieved what you hope to.
– Experiment, then observe what happens. Adjust accordingly.
– Get coaching and feedback.
– Pause to refresh, and stay connected as a team, as you move forward.
5. You don’t know if you can maintain success when you achieve it.
Think of it this way: if you happen to get what you want, but don’t believe it’s “really yours,” you may not be able to handle having it, much less be able to keep it.
It’s like a lottery winner who doesn’t believe he’s worthy of the lottery winnings, and fritters the money away to return to the more familiar, less-moneyed state.
Good fortune, even if you’ve worked very hard to create it, won’t “stick” if you don’t know what to do with it, or how to maintain it.
Prepare to be successful.
Start to develop the beliefs, knowledge and skills you’ll need to manage success when it arrives.
6. You’re not clearing the decks to make success possible.
Many people want to achieve success, but they don’t free up the time, energy, attention and resources to actually do so.
What do you plan to stop doing so that you can start doing something new?
Make success possible.
Make the time and space for it.
About the author
Jan Richards mentors and provides online training for leaders and teams who want to change or improve, but the desired change hasn’t happened yet, for any of many reasons. An experienced entrepreneur and business consultant, Jan has led many teams and businesses through major change and improvement projects. She is based in the always-rapidly changing Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay area. Her clients include large and small companies, primarily in tech, biotech, financial services, and telecommunications. She has an MBA from UC Berkeley and a BS in journalism from Iowa State. She was a national examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for five years. Prior to starting her consulting business, Jan worked for seven years at Apple Computer where she worked on and led teams that improved key business processes in product development, manufacturing, distribution, finance and administration, and sales and marketing. To learn more, visit her website at http://jan-richards.com