Get BIG, or Go Home!

Get BIG, or Go Home!

Harsh? Maybe, but the fact is too many business owners are ‘playing safe’ within their business, and it’s crippling their true potential!

Our research clearly shows that 80% of business owners are wrong about EVERYTHING! – In every industry and every sector, you can segment any business into 5 categories, from those who are ‘nailing it’ and smashing all the goals and targets, to those who are failing and on the verge of closure! The scary thing is, 80% of businesses are at the wrong end of this scale.

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of change
  • Fear of the unknown

Fear plays a HUGE part in business owners NOT making the BIG moves to significantly and sustainably SCALE their business. And with all good reason!

Throughout your upbringing, the majority of adults spent a minimum of 13 years (some almost 20) in education
Before you purchased your first car, you spent hours and hours and hours learning how to drive
And yet when it comes to setting up, owning, growing/scaling and successfully exiting a business, less than 2% of business owners have ever received any designated training on how to achieve this!

And so, whilst many start with rather grandiose plans for what success means to them. The majority slowly revise their thinking, dampen their expectation, and accept a life of early mornings, late nights, evenings and weekends in the pretence running your own business gives you a sense of freedom!

But surely there is another way?

Yes, of course, there is. It’s called investing in YOU.

If YOU are the most important thing in YOUR life? (And if your not, you jolly well ought to be) and the plans, goals, aspirations and dreams ARE what you want (and deserve) for you, your family, your future? Then, just like your education, and driving) shouldn’t you invest a little time and money in learning what it takes to achieve more!

Outcomes = Action + Thought

Or in other words, your thoughts drive your actions, your actions create the results. Therefore, if you want a different outcome, it starts with a different level of thinking.

Two GREAT quotes from einstein include:

“Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and again, still hoping for a different outcome”

and

“You will never overcome a problem, using the same level of thinking, as that which created it”

Isn’t it time to learn a new level of thinking? in order to create a new level of results? Below are 7 steps to creating your BFHAG! And within the first comment, an invitation to join me next Monday for a FREE TO ATTEND #ADDAZERO ScaleUp masterclass.

 

The cost of morality

I had the distinct pleasure and disgust this weekend to watch the multi BAFTA / AACTA award-winning Netflix documentary “Sherpa” this weekend! – The true story following New Zealand Tour guide Russell Brice and Sherpa Phurba Tashi during the period of the 2014 disaster leading to the loss of 16 Sherpa’s.

Having previously watched a number of documentaries around climbers, mountaineering and various other films including Everest, K2 and Meru. I was keen to see this documentary and to learn more of the Nepalese people, the sacred origins of the rock and how they had been depicted throughout the film.

And whilst there is some great cinematography, and incredible views, it became quickly and abundantly apparent of the disparity between the story of the Nepalese Sherpa, and the blatant selfishness, arrogant, ignorance of the white middle class “Guest” who claims to have ‘trained for months’ to be worked with hot towels and waited on with Tea/Coffee whilst the Sherpa is paid a pittance to work through the night carrying their every luxury across moving ice rivers to each stage of their resting area prior to being led to ‘their’ summit!

This was a beautiful yet tragic, terrifying, and revealing documentary that shows the undeniable differences in values and attitudes between the Nepalese culture and beliefs and the west’s insatiable desire for thrill, adventure, and self-glorification at any cost.

At one point (less than a week) after 16 Sherpa’s are killed whilst transporting masses of equipment, including flatscreen TV’s, books and bookcases, heaters, marquees, etc through the night from ‘BaseCamp 1’ to ‘BaseCamp 2’ ahead of the fee-paying westerns rising to hot towels and coffee in bed, ready to be led from 1 to the other. The Sherpa’s finally determine ‘enough is enough’. They have been persecuted for generations by westerners seeing them as slaves to command at their beck and call. And the loss of so many of their family, friends, colleagues, with such little regard shown by the tourists, pushes them over the edge.

A meeting is called, and they determine only if they stand in solidarity and refuse to climb will both the tourists and the government listen to their plea for better conditions, better wages, and compensation. They refuse to ‘walk over the dead’ of whom have just perilously lost their lives before them, and instead state ‘out of respect for them and their families, they will forgo any further earnings that year and return home’.

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Instead of acknowledgement and support, or any offer of compensation, an American lawyer, annoyed because the expedition cannot go ahead, calls the Sherpa climbers “terrorists” and wonders why their “owners” don’t get rid of the ones who don’t want to climb out of respect of the 16 deaths.  And whilst privately Brice suggests to the Sherpa’s he is there to support them, and ‘respects their wishes’. When confronted by the “devastation” of not being able to climb up a hill! rather than stand up and defend his employee’s right to Health and Safety, Equality, Fair pay, he joins his fee-paying western clients saying they are militant trouble makers, that should be punished.

It’s a really well-made film, that depicts the stark contrast between western and Nepalese morals and values. With the Sherpa, one of the Tibetan ethnic groups native to the most mountainous regions of Nepal, Tingri County, and the Himalayas. And their 3000+ heritage of culture, Gods, and traditions. And how, like their ancestors of high altitude farmers, have transitioned to the perilous, subservience of the middle-class western tourist who calls themselves ‘mountaineers’ and yet hasn’t got the first clue about the hardship of high altitude mountaineering, because of their ongoing demands and expectations of all the creator comforts of a 5* hotel, at 22,000 feet above sea level!

My questions to you on reading this, are:

  1. Have you watched the film? And what did you take from this?
  2. If you haven’t, will you? Based on what I have shared?
  3. Whether you have or not, What are you going to DO TODAY in regards to this?

Where does your moral compass point these days? What are you doing to WEAR your values with pride? How do you reflect these. in all you do? and what do others know of what you stand for?

Now is NOT the time to say, it’s nothing to do with me. NOW is the time to self-examine who we are, what. we do, whom we do it with and the impact it has in our community, our profession our world.

Do Ethics Matter?

At a time where business is tough, everyone is feeling the post lockdown pinch and we are all seeking that quick boost to finish the year with a high. I ask Do Ethics Matter?

Well, as our own company strap-line is the UK’s Leading Ethical Coaching Company,

I’m often asked what does that actually mean?

Yet to answer that, perhaps we ought to start by agreeing on:

What are Ethics?

At its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society, which can often also be described as moral philosophy. The term is derived from the Greek word ethos which can mean custom, habit, character or disposition.

What are Business Ethics?

By definition, business ethics are the moral principles that act as guidelines for the way a business conducts itself and its transactions. In many ways, the same guidelines that individuals use to conduct themselves in an acceptable way, in personal and professional settings; apply to businesses as well.

Acting ethically ultimately means determining what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Basic standards exist around the world that dictate what is wrong or unethical in terms of business practices. For example, unsafe working conditions are generally considered unethical because they put workers in danger. An example of this is a crowded work floor with only one means of exit. In the event of an emergency (such as fire) workers could become trapped or might be trampled on as everyone heads for the only means of escape.

Likewise, knowingly defrauding employees of entitlement, owing to either lack of education of sharing of information would also constitute poor ethical judgement.

While some unethical business practices are obvious, around the world they do still occur as peoples perception of what is acceptable differ widely.

Determining what practices are ethical or not is more difficult to determine if they exist in a grey area where the lines between ethical and unethical can become blurred or undetermined by best business practice, and what is considered ‘acceptable’.

For example, a company that exploits their marketing prowess across social media to capture data with the sole intent to manipulate peoples thinking (or voting patterns in the case of Cambridge Analytica) was determined that whilst no CRIME had been committed in doing so, the impact of such resulted in the first ever time a company has been tried in a court of law where this was considered ‘psychological warfare!’.

The THREE parts to Understanding Business Ethics

To truly break down business ethics, it’s important to understand the three basic components that the term can be dissected into.

History

The first part is the history. While the idea of business ethics came into existence along with the creation of the first companies or organisations, what is most often referred to by the term is its recent history since the early 1970s. This was when the term became commonly used the world over. The main principles of business ethics are based in academia and on academic writings on proper business operations. Basic ethical practices have been gleaned through research and practical study of how businesses function, and how they operate, both independently and with one another. In this sense, the considerations and theories are based around the aspects of ‘fair play’ and what is considered the ‘norm’ on how companies operate.

Scandals

The second major meaning behind the term is derived from its close relationship and usage when scandals occur. Companies selling goods that were created using child labour or poor working conditions is one such scandalous occurrence which has led to being labelled as poor ethical standards.  Likewise, the exploitation of people because of their colour, creed, sexuality, religion are now considered either illegal or at least poor ethical standards.

Other examples of this, are where a business professes to support one thing, whilst clearly practicing something else.

Such as businesses that claim to have environmentally friendly products/services/practices, whilst knowingly shipping their waste to other parts of the world to create the mass landfill mountains we now see many living on within places like India and China.

Integration

Perhaps the most recent and continually developing aspect of ethics is the third piece – the idea that companies are building business ethics into the core of their companies, making them a standard part of their operational blueprint.

As the world continues to grow more political (and more politically correct) an increased focus on the width and depth of business ethics and strong adherence to them become ever more scrutinised.

Business ethics are important for every company. They keep workers safe, help trade and interactions between companies remain honest and fair, and generally make for better goods and services. Distinguishing what a company will and won’t stand for is not always the same for each organisations, but knowing basic ethical guidelines is a key component of company management.

I firmly believe these are the 7 key principles of ethics in business

  1. Honesty: The willingness and openness to remain honest.
  2. Integrity: Doing what is ‘right’ not just what is ‘expected’.
  3. Promise-Keeping & Trustworthiness: Setting and living up to expectation
  4. Loyalty: Remaining true to People not just Profit
  5. Fairness: Demonstrating a ‘live and let live’ culture, not winner takes all
  6. Concern/Respect for Others: Recognising impact and supporting communities
  7. Law Abiding: Both Criminal, Civil and Moral!

Within My TrueNORTH, we firmly believe The following principles will help any leader grow their business impact far beyond that of a happy share holder!

Practice taking the Second Step

Go a little further. Always do more than anticipated and expected. Surprise others by paying attention to the little things that others don’t. Be different.

A principle that is helpful in building a business is the principle of going the second mile. Good companies develop a second-mile mentality. In business, we need to separate ourselves so that others can see our business more clearly.

Too many companies expect second-mile results without giving second-mile effort. It is always a good idea to do more than expected.

The Golden rule works, If you work it

Make People First Things. Think of others first. Treat others like you want to be treated. Practice thoughtfulness. When you think of the customers, they will think of you.

Many great businesses use this principle as the foundation for their business. The concept is to consider others first. The wise business leader and business will always treat others as they would like to be treated. – Companies that don’t think of their customers will not be thought of by their customers.

Focus on profit with a Purpose

Know your priorities. Live life and run your business with purpose and vision. Profit is powerful. Profit used well can lead to both success and significance. Attract others to your Mission and your Dream. Always Explain your Why.

Every successful business creates profits. It is often quoted in business circles that you don’t have a business until you have a profit. Every company has been established and designed to create a profit. However, Ethical Business leaders understand that the wrong profit can be damaging. There is little point in owning all the wealth in the world, if nobody is willing to accept your coin. Therefore, whilst profit is Good, Profit used for Good is Better

Know you’re Yeses and Your No’s.

Be decisive and make great decisions. Make decisions based on values. Know You “No’s.” Say Yes to those things that will make you and organisation better. Live up to your Word. Make your signature mean something. Fulfil your commitments.

Great Decisiveness is a key to influential leadership. People cannot follow a person that doesn’t know where they are going or why they are going in that direction. The power to say yes or no quickly means that you know where you are going and what you are trying to accomplish. Make your words mean something. Develop and build trust relationships by conveying to others that they can count on you and your commitments.

Many leaders lose their influence with others because they commit to aspirational yeses. Leaders must know their “no’s” and be quick to say yes or no definitively with purpose, consistence and in line with the values of the business.

Make the move From Owner to Overseer

Practice steward leadership. Use the resources wisely. An essential shift for Ethical business leaders is moving from ownership to stewardship. True success comes not from what you achieve, but in the legacy, you leave behind to others. It should be the desire of every Ethical business owner to be recognised not for what they own, but what they helped others to achieve.

Trust the law of sowing and reaping

Sow liberally. Be generous with your seeds. Plant daily. Be constantly trying new things. Don’t be afraid to start small. Practice patience.

Laws of life can be trusted because they have been proven through time. Successful businesses know and trust the law of sowing and reaping. Remember, a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” Don’t be afraid of starting with a small seed. The harvest you are reaping today is from the seeds that you planted yesterday.

Believe and ask for the Impossible

Dream Big Impossible Dreams. Set big goals. Stretch yourself and your team. Find new ways to look at old problems. Embrace belief. Everything great starts with a dream. The world is better when people dream big and believe that impossible things can happen. Challenge yourself to ask “what if” questions and use your imagination to see the world in new and different ways. People desires to be with leaders and organisations who have big visions. to A big vision inspires and attracts. Supersize your thoughts and your beliefs. What seems impossible to one, is possible with many.

Build to the 3rd or 4th Generation

Work on big projects, not for now, but for the future. Always do the right thing. Know your core values and beliefs. Be forward thinking. Make decisions with tomorrow in mind. Prepare for the future by making the right decision today.

Don’t waste time building things that won’t last the test of time. Building on the right foundation will help your business stand through the storms of market changes. A key to building a great business is to act with integrity in all situations. Integrity means doing the right thing in all situations at all times. Martin Luther King Jr. taught that “The time

is always right to do what is right.” Businesses that are built on a solid foundation are built to last generations. Companies that lack a solid foundation are built on slippery ground that can crumble at any time. – Our destiny unfolds in the future, but it is shaped by the decisions that we make today.

Know the order of things and Work the Order

Strive for clarity. Know your priorities. Order is important. When a leader understands the order of things, things become easier to understand. A great principle to practice in business is to focus on first things. When a leader understands the order of things, things can become easier to understand. A leader must be clear and push for clarity in all things.

Improve your Team to improve your Organisation

Find the right and best people to bring around you. Make people your top priority. Learn from everyone. Spend time with a wise team of mentors. Learn faster by learning from others. Ask questions and listen. Seek counsel. Help people to discover their gifts and talents. Find passionate and reliable people.

Great leaders learn from others to learn faster. You need a team around you to inspire you and help you build something bigger than you can build alone. No great leader ever led alone. Find your passion and add passionate people to your team. A passionate person is worth four regular people. Passionate people perform better. In fact, not only have they formed with a purpose, every person on their team has been formed with a purpose. When a company finds the gifts and passions of their people and discern how to release those passions then higher productivity is enjoyed by the person and the company. Passionate people are reliable people. The wisdom of others can be powerful. Every great leader has at least one advisor. However, many business leaders try to do things all on their own. In fact, it is often said that it is lonely at the top. It is only lonely at the top if you are trying to lead alone. Steward leaders believe in the power of others. – When your people get better your organisation gets better.

Do things today that will impact today AND tomorrow

Invest wisely. Don’t forget to invest in yourself. Make the right investments to help the business to grow. Invest in your people. Invest to grow your commitment and your passion.

Leaders are called to lead with passion or all of their heart. Therefore, a leader must make investments wisely.

Leaders in businesses are called upon to make many investments. A leader must make use of the resources of the company to make the right investments in the business, people, and infrastructure. When businesses are invested in wisely, the business will grow. Good investments set the direction and the path of a business to ensure its growth and development. When a business is neglected, it is doomed to shrink and die.

Work to Well Done

Excellent work is worthy work. Do everything for a bigger purpose and a noble cause. Innovate. Always improve and strive to make products and service better. Always Upgrade and Improve. Think long term. Show Your Value Through Products and Services that are of High Quality.

Building a business on these principles requires a change of perspective. One attitude that is essential for Ethical Leaders is to practice excellence at all times and in all situations.  When you work towards excellence in everything you are on your way to hearing the “well done” from your employees, your customers, and all who are impacted by it.


I’d love to hear your feedback on this, and whether you think ethics really are the very heart of every thriving business?

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Why Values are key to success

Values are rarely given the attention they deserve and yet I firmly believe in the 21st century, they are not just important, but likely to become the key to a business true capability of success.

Few companies put time and effort into defining, communicating and carrying-through their business values, which, in essence, are the guiding principles by which they operate. One company’s values could be honesty, transparency and integrity, whereas another company may value excellent customer service and innovation.

Whatever the values, they’re all too often neglected in favour of bottom-line results, especially when times are challenging and KPIs are seen as the priority.

However, values and results must go hand-in-hand. The two need to be equally matched or the implications could be disastrous.

Values are the heartbeat of any business

Values are the heartbeat of an organisation and must instruct everything it does and every decision it makes. And by taking a values-led approach, what the business stands for is being constantly reaffirmed.

Without this understanding of what’s guiding the business, it will lose direction and could even lose its way completely, impacting its reputation, relationships and bottom line.

If an organisation defines its values well enough, the leaders should be able to use them as a solid benchmark by which to make strategic decisions and to also empower others to make decisions of their own.

The company’s values also need to be lived across the organisation, from recruitment through to R&D to promotion and through both product sourcing and delivery.

During the recruitment process, interview questions and tasks must revolve around the company’s values so that people are hired who are culturally compatible rather than those with a great CV, but at the expense of others.  This ‘rock the boat’ strategy at best is a high risk one, and can only work once.  Far better, and more sustainable to build the right cultural values from the very beginning.

Throughout our marketing, sales, and after sales service, the identity and image of the company and its brand must be in keeping with the company’s core values. And, when people from across the company are recognised for a job well done, it needs to be made clear to the person receiving the recognition and those witnessing it how their behaviour supports one or more of the company’s values.

If every business unit isn’t driving the organisation forward in line with its values, then there will be confusion, frustration and disengagement.

Most company leaders will delight in explaining their company values, and yet all too often, employee behaviour, sometimes even management and leadership behaviour  is at odds with these guiding principles.

There is a gap between rhetoric and reality, and it is in this gap that issues arise.

If values haven’t been properly thought-through and instead are seen as some form of tick box exercise or employer branding initiative, then they are pointless and ineffectual. Values must be genuine and deep-rooted if they’re to ‘stick’.

Unfortunately, there are many companies that ‘get it wrong’ and sink deeper and deeper into the gap. One of the most recent and notorious is the former construction giant, Carillion.

Carillion collapsed with liabilities of up to £7 billion after operating in a maverick fashion with a lack of transparency and integrity. It is also alleged that there was a culture of fear. The reality and the rhetoric were clearly significantly apart as the company’s values included openness, ‘working as one’ and sustainable profitable growth! Whilst this was the outward facing message of the company, internally was a significantly different story, in which they put profit way ahead of ethics, making its values of communication, respect and integrity eventually known for all the wrong reasons. The outcome speaks for itself!

Tips on getting values right

It can be challenging to operate a business that is constantly in tune with its values. Here are some tips on getting it right.

  1. Educate leaders on why living and breathing business values is so important. If it’s seen as a tick box exercise, it will fail.
  2. Collaborate on the business values to avoid it being a CEO or HR thing. A leadership team that comes up with ‘values’ without checking with the workforce about what’s important, will get little buy-in.
  3. Spend time clearly explaining and defining your values. This includes breaking-down your values into sets of behaviours so staff understand how they’re expected to behave. For instance, behaviours associated with ‘innovation’ could include generating new ideas, investigating and never ridiculing people’s ideas and permitting failure.
  4. Performance manage your people using values – Instead of purely focusing on KPIs, make sure managers recognise and reward staff who demonstrate the ‘right’ behaviours. This will prevent “brilliant jerks” and will help people to understand how important they are.
  5. Recognise and reward the right values when you see them – Don’t wait until the annual performance review as effective recognition needs to be frequent and timely.
  6. Ensure values are a natural part of your decision-making process and don’t be afraid to say “no” when something isn’t in line with your company’s values.

Organisations that disregard the importance of business values underestimate their impact. In an age when ‘how’ companies do business is just as important as bottom-line results, it’s time for business leaders to give ‘values and ethics’ the attention they deserve.

You can learn more by listening to my podcast episode: Why Values are Key to Success:

Click here to subscribe to the #ADDAZERO Podcast


It is on these principles I have formed and run my business.  And, on which we were recognised and awarded the title “Ethical Coaching Company” at the ‘Clear Business Thinking’ Awards 2017.

It takes time, consideration, collaboration and guts to review.  And if required, amend the very fabric of a business.  This is NOT an overnight choice, or something to present to the workforce on a Monday morning.  It has often taken some of the biggest companies a generation to review and amend their vision and values, and make the relevant and necessary adjustments to become more values based, ethical entities.  But, for those who do, the future isn’t just bright, it’s everlasting.

I’d love to hear your thoughts? – Drop a comment below on your take on this most important subject…

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Team Versus Mission

What a Sunday walk taught me about Communication, Leadership, Team Dynamics, Training, Equipment, Risk, Reward and #Missioncreep!

On Sunday, I joined up with around 15 other people for a walk across the moors.

It was advertised on Facebook, with ‘Kit’, the organiser (someone known to me through walking) as a 16K walk, taking in 7 different reservoirs, and offered both a start point, start time, route and intended completion time.  It was ‘open to all’ and encouraged people to come as a family, bring their dog, and to simply enjoy some fresh air, exercise, and the company of others! – What could go wrong?

I invited a few friends to join me, who I know to be keen walkers also, and we met with around 15 or so others who had chosen to respond to the call also.

After a quick ‘brief’ by Kit’ regarding the weather forecast, ‘social distancing’ and the likes, we all set off in single file ahead of the day together. The weather was good, the group keen and ready for the day, all was ‘as it should’.

However, it wasn’t long before we began to notice a significant difference in pace and ability of the group.  There were those (such as myself) as seasoned and accomplished walkers, who were keen to ‘get on’ and whilst enjoying the walk and the incredible scenery, were looking to ‘make progress’.

Whereas others appeared to be far less accomplished.  I noticed how some in the group were wearing trainers and shorts. (More afternoon stroll through the park attire, than out for a hike). They had no bag, with food or water with them, and were quickly flailing behind the main group.

For us to maintain the group. This then determined a number of unplanned ‘stops’ allowing the less experienced walkers to ‘catch up’. But determined you were frequently warming up and cooling back down which as you may well know encourages the onset of cramp!

As this continued the gaps between lead and tail grew longer, quicker and of more concern. It was quickly becoming a ‘them and us’ and more difficult to manage. With the lead group keen to march on, frustrated by the many stops and continually moving around, stretching to prevent the risk of cramp.  Where as the tail group were also becoming frustrated, feeling they were being pushed to work harder (perhaps beyond their capability) and found the moment they arrived back with the main group, were unable to take a break, as the front runners were now setting out again!

Kit’s leadership was being sufficiently tested continually now, as the first group were keen to push on and the second group ‘wanted the same breaks as the other group got!’. Communication went from nice, pleasant, jovial chat, to more direct, demanding statements of intent and expectation.

Within the first 3 miles of the walk, the team dynamics had shifted significantly from a group who had come together to achieve a single purpose. To one completing with each other to either achieve the goal OR remain as a group! And at this point I found myself severely torn!

[TD]EU Teams: Split Sea Wolves of Croatia - Touchdown Europe

As a former soldier within the British Army we were always told “Never leave anyone behind” and I’ve ALWAYS known as a team to function effectively, you are only as good as the weakest part.  Therefore, to maintain TEAM you must move at the slowest persons pace.  However, it was quickly becoming evident, there was now a significant problem with this.

We had all agreed to meet at a certain point, enjoy a 16k walk, and return back to the location – Mission complete) at a certain time.  And whilst the risk of NOT achieving the deadline, may not be that important to those ‘out for a stroll’.  For the others of us within the team, we had chosen to commit to this for a set period, as time IS something EXCEPTIONALLY important to us.

Team ONE had a challenge, either maintain TEAM or split and achieve GOAL?

The next 3 miles the dynamics changed, we saw members of ‘team one’, move to the back and look to motivate and encourage ‘team two’ to ‘push on’ for both to be achieved.  However, this was quickly met with contempt. RATHER than see this as helpful encouragement, it was a challenge, and the more encouraging ‘team one’ tried to be, ‘team two’ slowed even further, asking for more breaks and fuelling the angst and divide.

During the 10th mile and the realisation we were less than 2/3 the way round, and not likely to complete until 2.5Hrs AFTER the initial stated end time, it all came to a head.  We reached a very soft ‘boggy’ area of the moors, where skill. Judgement and confidence determined if you crossed safe and dry, or a wet and covered in peat! Despite every attempt for ‘team one’ to help, ‘team two’ saw this as patronising and unwelcome. What ensued was neither pleasant or enjoyable, and we watched as others become more angry and disappointed at the day, the outcome, the leader, their selves!

With the group is disarray, and a breakdown between the two groups, it was decided ‘Kit’ would lead ‘team two’ and guide them off the moor and attempt to short cut the route back to the rendezvous. Where as ‘team one’ were keen to push on and achieve what they had set out to achieve, in the time left to do it in!

By the half way point I had realised several key points:

  1. The Leadership was not strong enough to hold the team together
  2. Communication both prior to the event (on exactly what was involved and the expectations and requirements of those involved, had been lacking, and on the day more coercive than commanding
  3. The dynamics of the team were so diverse it had quickly fragmented becoming two sub teams now competing against each other and not mission focussed
  4. The likelihood of the team finishing together was at risk, as well as the mission to complete on time.
  5. Team members did not have the right equipment (clothing) and training (experience) to complete the mission as intended!

So what?…..

Yes, I know.  It’s a Sunday afternoon walk, and I’ve turned it into a fight for survival.  And perhaps I should simply chill out and enjoy the scenery!

But as a Business Owner, there are SO many lessons to learn from here, it wouldn’t do this justice NOT to share them that we may all take something from the day!

Lesson 1:

Who is on your team? Have you picked the right people for the task? How did you select them (Or did they select you?) Are they in the right positions within the business? Do they have the right training and equipment to work effectively and efficiently to not only contribute to the mission but help bring it in on TIME and BUDGET?

Lesson 2:

How well have you determined, documented, and communicated the business mission? How well informed are those on the mission with you? How clear are they about what it is? Their contribution to it? What that means to achieving the mission? What that subsequently means for THEM?

Lesson 3:

Do you have the relevant and necessary skills to manage the team effectively? Are you spending your time nurturing both them team and the people within it sufficiently to ensure they pull together to achieve more, rather than split into competing factions?

Lesson 4:

What considerations have you built into your mission to cater for unexpected obstacles and how you will approach these? What is more important, the mission or the team? And if pushed, which way would people choose?


I’ve seen SO MANY good businesses, hit a small problem, which creates a crack. A crack in the wall on which they are aiming to climb. Not big, not significant, not anything to cause alarm. But sufficient that is there, and gone unchecked, unaddressed, unchallenged will slowly grow.  The business continues to progress, more and more business is done, more employees are now on the team, and the crack continues to slowly ebb its way along the wall.

And then one day, and it might not be something that large, but something causes the crack to snap. There is divide, and before you know it, the whole damn wall comes crashing down all around them!

And yet to overcome this, to prevent it EVER being a problem is relatively straight forward:

Build a business with the right People, Systems and Processes who are dedicated to the mission and have the skills, capability, ability, and desire to achieve it!  Provide the right culture and environment for them to flourish and nurture them as individuals.

FAILURE to do this, and you simply risk building your castle on the sand!

Drop a comment below and let me know your thought on this?

And don’t forget to share this across your own network, for others to benefit also…

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What I learnt from 153 failures

Perception is reality

I took a call this morning from a client with a moral dilemma and wanted some help on determining what they should do.

They are busy growing their business and understand that to do so it will be important to forge good relationships with others through whom they can collaborate. And as such are forming alliances with both influencers, introducers, and affiliates with whom collectively can help and support each other to reach heights they perhaps perceived to be otherwise unachievable.

However, on approaching one such alliance, with whom could have a major impact on the speed and advancement of the business and its objectives, they have encountered a problem. It appears on closer examination they have begun to introduce a series of conditions to which my client needs to adhere to if they are to work together, and some of these are incongruent with what and how they currently operate.

On the one hand, this alliance could have significant impact on the direction they then take, and the speed of growth they might expect to achieve as a result.

On the other, they are beginning to dictate the terms to which the business operates to satisfy their aims and objectives.

I acknowledge this could present a fork in the road, but for me it reminds me of two stories within my own past and the decisions I made:

For 12+ years, I served as a Combat Medic within the British Army.  Within our Regiment, we worked in Squadrons, and within each squadron was broken down into sections.  ‘Scotty’ and Frank’ was not medics at all. But both worked as Driver/Radio Operators assigned to the medical regiment. Both knew of each other, but neither were directly in my section and so we knew of each other as fellow colleagues at work. They mixed with their friends, I mixed with mine.

However, in 2000 all that quickly changed.

Being admitted to hospital, I was no longer a Combat Medic but a patient. I was no longer helping others but needing their help. In one moment, I’d gone from being an asset to be a liability! And whilst I was never centre of attention within the Section, Squadron or Regiment, I had liked to think I was ‘one of the boys’ and that the Regiment ‘had my back’. (Just as for years, I had willingly put my life on the line to have theirs).

They often say it takes a crisis to determine who your friends are. And whilst I remain confident that on the battlefield we worked exceptionally well as a team, working together, pulling together to ensure we achieved. The moment I was no longer ‘pulling together’ the mass majority of the ‘team’ continued to march forward, mission focused and goal centred, and I quickly got left behind.

I can count on two hands those who visited me in hospital. Took the 3Hr drive EACH WAY in their own time to come and check in, see how I was, whether I needed anything, and kept me up to date with what was happening outside those 4 walls. Interestingly though, of those who visited, there were more NON medic cap badges than medics!

I will NEVER forget the choices, ‘Scotty, Frank, Keith, Whiskey’ made in stepping up, stepping out and making a choice to be there when it mattered most, and not just when the going was good! A debt, I’m advised was never there, and yet I consider unpaid to this day.

The other story is also from my military days, but this was during an operational tour.

Rank is a BIG thing in the military. A ‘company’ built on an exceptional hierarchical basis, and so the opportunity to progress is key to many decision-making processes for the majority of soldiers throughout their career.

The NEED to be SEEN doing the right thing, sadly often overpowered the intention to do the right thing. What I mean by this is simply some people continually did the right thing for the wrong reasons, where as far fewer did for the right reasons for the wrong thing!

On this occasion, it was a couple of weeks prior to Christmas. Many of the soldiers received gifts mailed to them from loved ones back home, and whist many were practical gifts, others chose to fully embrace the ‘Christmas’ theme and send Christmas presents! (Even though you carry all you have on your back, and so often highly impractical)

One soldier (who shall remain nameless) determined rather than these being wasted or damaged, it might be a nice idea to gift them to locals within the village we had set up camp within, in a bid to build closer relations with the locals and build on the ‘Hearts and minds’ campaign of us being there to help, support, liberate rather than as oppressors.

He was an influential soldier and soon as many others donating items they were happy to ‘gift’ to this cause. So much so that it was decided that rather than do it indiscriminately, it would be a more determined campaign of giving and so a ‘structure’ soon formed as to what, where, who.

Doing the right thing, and for the right reasons?

That was, until hours AFTER the giving, it became known to the TV press on tour, who were keen to come and learn more of the story and share it both across the theatre of operation and back home. However, as this had already taken place, there was limited ‘NEWS’ value! And so, the soldier determined it would be best, to ‘recover’ some of the gifts, only to ‘give again’ once the press were present!

As I turn my attention back to my client, and his moral dilemma, I am also reminded of the most inspiring quote from Viktor Frankl a concentration camp survivor of the World War

You can take away my access to food and water, strip me of my clothes and every other human decency. But you will never strip me of my attitude, for that I get to choose

It was the late, great Jim Rohan who said “You are the sum of the 5 people you surround yourself with the most” and with this in mind, it is always necessary and relevant to consider who you are taking influence from. Far better to ‘upgrade’ your influencers that you are not the one with whom all others take the most without you gaining also.

In Bannatynes biography, he claimed:

Until 38 I was a professional bum. By the time I was 40 I was a millionaire. All because I changed those I hung around with, from being the smartest in the room, to being in a room with some exceptionally smart people.”

However, I have seen too many businesses fail overnight, by chasing the A grade clients, at the expense of all the “B’s, C’s, and D’s” along the way! It is just as important to remember where we have come from, as to know where we are going.

I worked with a client throughout 2017/8 with whom spent a lot of money with us. They were already buying our TOP service, and even then were asking for numerous extra’s to be added on a regular basis! Almost 10 months into the annual contract, I discovered something they had done as a business. A decision I had no prior knowledge of, and which on learning went so far against EVERYTHING that we stand for, that I contacted them to advise with immediate notice we would be cancelling the contract.

My Finance manager wouldn’t speak to me for 3 days, as in that one decision, we had virtually wiped the companies’ entire profit for the year! And yet, within 6 weeks we had replaced that income from 3 new clients, ALL of whom stated:

“We’ve been wanting to work with you for a while, and yet whilst you were working with X, felt it wasn’t aligned with what you claim to be (The Ethical Coaching Company) and so have held off to see how that panned out”

The decisions we make are not just about where we are right now. But also influenced by all we have done to get us here, and all we are yet to do along our journey. Brand is not just a pretty logo, but your vision, your values, your ethics, morals, decision making processes. It is, in essence, who WE and our business is.

A friend in need is a friend in deed – so choose wisely and with confidence, as we are laying the foundations for all that is to come!


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