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April 24, 2013

I’m going a little crazy here this morning as I just found a ton of writing on the very subject of my last post. With this new program at work [Performance Excellence – PE for short] we are talking about ways to make our company better. To be better leaders and team members; to communicate more and in better ways; to just accomplish more and have this whole project be worth it in the end. And I may be going overboard with my thinking and excitement on this whole thing, but regardless of if this is “just a work project” or not, everything I’m thinking on and learning right now can be relevant in my day-to-day life regardless.

Seth Godin has recently written several posts on subjects similar to what I’ve been trying to say for over a year now, so I’ll just start at the beginning…

Your manifesto, your culture
In his post, Godin speaks on having a mission statement, specifically in business. He quotes from an article from Acumen calling for more people to be daring and go against the norm when it comes to the type of work they produce. To do this, it requires people to be a mix up of caring and daring – to go where others won’t and to take chances to challenge the norm, in the end making things better. And like all great things, this isn’t the easiest path to take, but it can also be worth the all the hardships and efforts.

You don’t have to pander
Expanding on the manifesto, Godin also speaks on not just giving your customer what they say they want. In order to survive in the business world, to be the best – the one other’s recommend, we have to be able to tell them what they want. To be brave or brash enough to go beyond just what is required and make the end result better than they imagined themselves. This can require only focusing on certain aspects and limiting your audience, but it will not only make a better product,  but will give the creator more satisfaction of a job well done in the end.

Avoiding the custom bully
Along the same lines, we also should stand firm in our specifications of the work we’re doing. This is a big problem I see in my daily work life, and for many freelance designers. It’s easy to be guilted into going above what you’ve stated just because the customer is paying you a large sum of money. But like a coworker of mine said recently “If I give my kids candy everyday, they’re going to expect candy everyday.” In the work place, this leads to other customers wanting the same candy [product] in the same amount of time, with the same results, and the same price every time. And this is just going to drain those doing the work. And as Godin says “They didn’t sign up to ruin your life. They signed up to get the most they could from you and your team, and the limits are the limits.”

But I believe, before all the actual work can take place, you need an effective team and environment in order to accomplish anything. Something we’re also going to have to start doing in times of distress is evaluate the team. Godin states it in terms of not “Is this the best you can do” but as “Is this the best your team can do?.” In my personal environment, I believe if we use individuals to their best of their ability within a team, we could accomplish so much more, and more importantly make people happy in their jobs again. This also requires the belief in the attitude of “It’s not personal, it’s business.” Not so much in the You’ve Got Mail sense, as we still need to be considerate of our coworkers, but especially in my specific environment it will require a lot of people to let go of years-long grudges and move on for the betterment of the team.

And while I’m seeing all this from my personal, work perspective  it’s still a valuable lesson to remember in everyday life. Some here feel antagonized with the new polices and meetings we’re having – and I can understand their annoyance – I’ve chosen to take lessons away from it to employ in my day-to-day work, and I hope to continue it should I move onto other opportunities some day. So I find myself in a motivational speaker role lately at work as I try to get others more stubborn than me to see this as well, so much so I’ve turned the web yet again as an outlet. But in the end, my ultimate goal is to help people, so I can only hope I can become braver and more outspoken in order to deliver this same message to others and the years go by.

So to close –  check out Seth Godin. He has some awesome writings.

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