97: Modus Operandi

We’ve heard sayings like “What’s her MO?” in TV dramas before.

“MO”–Modus Operandi–is a method of doing something. The Napoleon Hill Foundation defines it as a “Magnificent Obsession”, a positive dream that pushes us forward.

If you work with a great team, you probably have two of these:

  • Your Modus Operandi: Your magnificent obsession–your calling–and your method of pursuing it.
  • Your team’s Modus Operandi: The magnificent obsession behind your team as a whole.

Can you move in light of both? You must: if your work pushes you forward, your team pushes each other forward, and doing so collectively enables your team’s mission to move forward, you become unstoppable.

96: “The same, but cheaper”

That’s something most people want.

And the common methods of achieving this are going away:

  • Cheaper means less skill: Chunking delegated tasks to those who do one thing on repeat (human or machine) removes those who make it better. Great for being out-innovated, and decreased value creation.
  • Cheaper means less choice: Making what you and the next customer get both identical removes that which makes each special. Great for becoming a marginalized commodity.

“Winning today at the expense of tomorrow” won’t work much longer. Teams need new methods of value creation.

“Out-muscling” is the old game: “Make it cheaper then buy up all the ad slots so the competitors will drown.”

“Out-caring” is the new game: “We picked this out just for you, it’s a collaboration with your favorite designer.”

Great teams care more. Does yours?

95: Clarity is hard

Long reports say the least.
Long proposals are read the least.
Long speeches put people to sleep.

They’re long because each word isn’t carefully chosen.
Short ones are harder to make.
Because clarity is hard.

Sometimes, shorter is much better.

94: Limited time only

“Get this cheatsheet.
It shows you the 3-easy-steps to make an ebook…
That’s written about how to run a good webinar…
Or attend this webinar to discover how to run an effective sales call…
Which gives you an effective sales call designed to sell you a course…
On how to make a great cheatsheet.”

Great things don’t always come in a box, and they aren’t always easy.

The promise of “It’s easy” risks making people confuse “This is challenging” with “I’m not good enough”.

When we accept that most things worth doing aren’t easy, we give ourselves the freedom to succeed in our roles.

93: The third way

There are three sides to every coin.

And when it comes to decision-making on high-performance teams, there are three options available to us, every time.

The third option just takes a little more searching for. Here are some examples:

  • 1. Over-promising: Doing less than promised.
    2. Under-promising: Promising less than able.
    3. Showing promise: Doing more than is comfortable, causing growth.
  • 1. Burn-out: Doing more than able.
    2. Burn-in: Damage caused by doing too little.
    3. Feeling the burn: Doing more than is comfortable, causing growth.

The third option normally requires uncomfortable growth to bring a new, better solution into existence.

High-performing team members: be on the lookout for “the third way.”

92: Kensho or Bust

“I would have succeeded if it weren’t for _____”

Ever heard someone say–or caught yourself saying–this sentence?

Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith of the Agape International Spiritual Center in LA has a new word for us to learn: “Kenshō”.

Let’s compare it to “Failure”:

  • Kenshō: “Growth from temporary setbacks.” Here we experience a trial, problem, or unexpected challenge, that becomes a learning experience that makes us stronger.
  • Failure: “Accepting the setback as ‘the end’.” Here we experience that same trial, problem, or unexpected challenge, but consider it to be a sign that we should give up trying.

Next time you’re hit with a setback, ask yourself: is this an opportunity for Kenshō?

91: How’s my driving?

Ever seen this written on the vehicle in front of you?

I sometimes wonder what it’d take to make me dial the number. Perhaps if I saw them help an elderly person perform a three-point turn (good). Or if they almost caused an accident (bad). Either way, it provides:

  • Opportunity: Great drivers want this. The ability to be recognized for being great at their craft.
  • Accountability: Great drivers want this, too. The ability to have “the road” as their accountability partner.

I only hope these drivers belong to teams that turn those calls into what-based, unselfish feedback, rather than a mere disciplinary system.

Whatever our team does, “the road” can provide invaluable feedback to help us perfect our work. We need only ask.

How’s your driving?

90: Put your name on it

When you were a kid and you drew a picture, what was the last detail you’d add?

Your name. You’d sign it.

You made it. You were proud of it. We sign what we’re proud of.
Consider the upcoming week. What if you could sign…

  • Your next email: You already technically ‘sign’ these. Yet you probably don’t think too hard about “one measly email”. How could your next one be worthy of signing?
  • Your next workday: You’ve done these. But if you could ‘sign a day’, how could you make your next one worthy of signing?
  • Your next project: Be it assigned or self-initiated, how can you make it so special that you’d name it after yourself?

How many last week would you have signed?
Perhaps it’s time to put your name on next week.
And the week after that

89: What makes a gift a gift?

It’s not just “giving someone something”, is it?
That’s a transaction.

And it’s not “paper, bows, and ribbons” either.
Not all gifts are objects for wrapping.

  • A $100 item delivered is a transaction.
  • A $10 item prepared and given feels priceless.

The difference isn’t pricing. It’s whether you “prepared and gave” (making someone feel special) or “delivered” (merely meeting expectations).

Does your team “deliver” great products that “meet expectations”?

Or do you “prepare and give” great experiences that make your audience feel special?

88: Fear, ego, and care

“It’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.” – Steve Jobs

What do people know about you?

You–and the team you belong to–will communicate one of three things to people:

  • That you’re scared: To stand out, to speak up, to be great.
  • That you’re different: That you march to the beat of your own drum, for better for worse.
  • That you care: That it’s not about your fear, or your need to be seen as a special snowflake, but about them.

Which are you communicating? Honestly?

87: Poles of roles

Most roles have poles.

The north, where our favorite work lies, and the south, where the parts we wish didn’t exist live.

  • Creatives love designing but must also master the data-driven side of their work if what they make is to be effective.
  • Engineers love building things but must master the social side of production if they’re to prevent communication breakdowns.
  • Account managers love talking with clients but must master the software their team uses if they’re to enable anything to get done.
  • Marketers love writing copy but must master the confidence to get on camera and speak to their audience directly.

Without mastering both poles, neither is truly mastered.

What are your role’s poles?

86: Everyone an owner

Are you an owner?

On great teams, everyone has a stake: if things go great, you’re structured to benefit. If things don’t, there’s nothing to benefit from.

On teams like these, we have a choice:

  • Be an owner: Where you Own your role, you Own the vision, and you fight for it come rain or shine.
  • Or be like an ‘employee’: Where you check-in enough to keep the peace and leave the heavy-lifting for someone else.

We get to decide whether or not to be as indispensable as the man/woman who founded the tribe.

If we decide wrong, someone who decided right will most certainly take our place, if the team is indeed to be great.

So: are you an owner?

85: Your contract means nothing

The longer the contract, the less trust you both have.

When a friend offers a ride to the airport for your vacation, you don’t make him sign a contract. Despite–were he to not show–you’d risk missing your flight, and thus your whole vacation. Trust.

When a small team offers to complete a small project, contracts start flying for weeks prior to getting started on anything. No trust.

We don’t need longer, tighter contracts. We need stronger relationships.

84: Sugarbrain

How many hours daily do you dedicate to your meaningful work?

Hold that question for a minute.

Ever get withdrawals if you miss your coffee break, or YouTube interlude, or other such fixes? You might have Sugarbrain. Sugarbrain is when:

  • Concentrating is hard: The next thing on your to-do list requires calm focus, such as writing an important document. So you go on YouTube for a bit instead.
  • Nerves become a habit: You’re expecting an important email to arrive, so you check your inbox twice a minute instead of twice a day, just in case. Just in case.

1.5 hours of Sugarbrain may equal 1 hour of non-Sugarbrain.

So back to our original question: how many hours daily do you dedicate to your meaningful work?

83: More social at (remote) work

What if remote work made us more social?

While it’s easy to consider the perceived social benefits of sharing office space, I’d argue remote work enables 3 distinct advantages for social teams:

  • It’s intentional: There’s no water-cooler or being a wallflower without water-coolers and walls. Instead, you must intentionally strike up a conversation to nurture relationships. Many in offices go years without a 1-on-1 conversation, by comparison.
  • It’s controlled: Group chat, 1-on-1 chat. Synchronous, asynchronous. You get to choose when and how based on how you like to socialize. No mid-flow interruptions about the weather required.
  • Over-communication: Collaboration drops 38% unless everyone over-communicates, leaving nothing to chance. Everyone literally has to communicate more than normal.

Remote team? How could you foster more socialization?

82: Making things happen

“I like things to happen; and if they don’t happen, I like to make them happen.” – Winston Churchill

Making things happen is hard. And also easy.

Hard, if you view it as a one-step binary effort resulting in success or failure. Easy, if you remember your ABCs–or in this case–D-C-B-As:

  • Decide: On what you want to happen.
  • Commit: In your mind’s eye, make it “already done”.
  • Believe: Remove any limiting beliefs that it will be so.
  • Action: Doing whatever it takes to make it so.

The D-C-B-A of making things happen builds upon the premise of Result Lists we talked about earlier in the year.

What would you like to have already made happen, yourself or as part of your team, but haven’t yet? The answer might be as simple as D-C-B-A.

81: Amazing time

Time will amaze us, one way or another.

We’re amazed by how time flies by.
We’re amazed by what we can do in such a short space of time.
Which of these amazements do you have?

Person A has a book idea. So they write it and list it on Amazon. They’re amazed by how much was done, so quickly.

Person B has a book idea. So they ponder it, make notes, and wonder what it could be like to be a published author. They’re amazed about how time flew by since they wrote down their original idea.

Time will amaze us, one way or another.
Which person would you prefer to be?

80: On being missable (part 2)

What if they left you?

Your favorite teammate. Your favorite customer or client.
Who would you miss the most?

Great teams need missable members and missable clients:

  • Members may well be replaced, but knowing who you’d hate to lose (and why) is a pointer for future expansion.
  • Clients may also be replaced, but knowing who you’d hate to lose (and why) is a pointer for future marketing.

By learning the answers to these questions your team can better become the place you–and those you serve–will never want to leave.

79: On being missable

Would they miss you if you were gone?

Your teammates, that is. Who would miss you more?
Who wouldn’t miss you that much?

If you’re on a great team, you may never want to leave. But asking yourself this question may reveal where there’s important work to be done.

How about your team’s customers and clients?
Would they miss you if your team was gone?
Or would they merely “pick another” to buy from? Why?

Asking this question may reveal where–as a team–there’s important work to do.

78: The weak made strong

What if admitting weakness makes you seem stronger?

It always seems to be the most confident, proficient members of teams that are quickest to point to their mistakes and apologize for them.

And it seems to be the less-confident, less-proficient members that rarely apologize, or spot (or admit) their weaknesses–instead, apologies are replaced with versatile excuses.

  • Sorry has nothing to hide: This person flags their mistakes publically to the team. They have a clear enough grasp of their work that no mistake gets shipped. Even if the mistake is their own.
  • Sorry ‘owns the gap’: The space between error and resolution never goes unnoticed or unresolved for this person. Issues get caught, flagged and fixed, without requiring others to stumble upon their mistakes.

On your team, how often do you admit weaknesses? Your answer may point to your next growth opportunity.

77: Low MPG

“Life is long if you know how to use it.” – Seneca

Ever said, “we’ll get around to that… someday”?

I hear teams say this often. And it’s always from passionate teams, full of energy and great ideas.

But we have the team.  We just don’t always use it wisely: we get stuck with Low MPG. The current obsession with workaholism is to blame:

  • We get “Low MPG” when we don’t use our time right. Our bodies are machines, and our gas tanks are finite. We must mindfully refill them to avoid running out mid-trip.
  • Decision-making suffers when we don’t use our time right. It’s a muscle just like a bicep is; training strengthens it but leaves it tired and torn. Rest is an essential part of training.

When we want to do more, we try to keep going when we should be maximizing the potential of our bodies.

How can your team bring your “someday” work closer, by avoiding Low MPG?

76: Define your role?

Ever taken a personality quiz? Or a StrengthsFinder?

My teams love these things, and they get to communicate more effectively with each other as a result.

But whether it’s ‘personality types’ or ‘position agreements’, there’s an important distinction: Define your role. Don’t be defined by it.

Introvert or Extrovert, Operations or Marketing, it applies equally:

  • Personality results should fit you. You’re not supposed to fit them. By being your best self, if the results stay the same or change, they’re merely an indicator of you at this moment – a metric, not a box.
  • Job titles should fit you. You’re not supposed to fit them. While there are responsibilities you own in your role, you get to redefine the role as you bring your full genius.

How are labels and roles defining you? How are you instead defining them?

75: Same vs Different

Which are we supposed to focus on?

There’s merit in both: in our similarities and in our differences.

As a team, we must focus on both, at different times:

  • Within the team: great teams want to be working together. So, focusing on what makes us the same, not on what makes us different, enables new ways to bond more closely, and work on problems more deeply together.
  • Outside the team: great teams know what sets them apart. So, presenting yourselves together based on what makes you different, not on what makes you the same, unlocks the potential for strategic market advantage.

What makes you the same? What makes you different?

74: Teams are not families

Teams are not families.

It’s common, particularly in the tech world, to see teams–regardless of strength or culture–referred to as ‘families’. In reality, the best teams realize they’re the supporter of families:

  • Investing in strong bonds: we’ve talked before about how great teams want to be working alongside each other. But at the same time,
  • Investing in their freedom: remote work beats ‘Foosball tables’ and free massages, for instance, because it enables members to spend more time with their families instead of in office buildings.

Teams that behave like families enable each other to thrive in their actual family units. No more Foosball.

73: Preach to the choir

What’s wrong with preaching to the choir?

We use this phrase to suggest something is redundant. But we have the choir’s attention. Shouldn’t they have ours?

  • From sales to service: prospects need to find the faith. Converts need to go deeper in their faith. Take them there, be it with mini-courses, training, events or opportunities to go deeper with you.
  • From lost to found: celebrate those who saw the light, be it with an endorsement, certification, featurette or gift.

Those who’ve not yet experienced your team’s work need a sales experience to help them make the right decisions. Those who’ve seen your genius need serving and celebrating more than they probably are.

How could you preach to your choir?

72: Too much cavalry

Is there such a thing as “too much help”?

We’ve talked before about how to “call the cavalry” on teams, to offer help and support when needed.

But cavalry can be overused.

By our definition of A+B players, team members grow (B-to-A) rather than regress (B-to-C).

  • Growth means getting cover when needed, ensuring the calls are both rare and unique.
  • Regression means not asking for the call when it’s needed (thus dropping the ball) or repeating the same mistakes.

Fire-drills are supposed to be common. Fires are supposed to be rare.

Having cavalry enables teams to keep better promises, providing everyone on the team uses it wisely.

71: Done, imperfectly

“Well, if you don’t have time to do it right, what makes you think you’ll have time to do it over?” – Seth Godin, Purple Cow

Your work isn’t perfect.

And it doesn’t need to be. Yet it still needs to get done.

  • “Done, imperfectly” = Done. Next comes refinery & optimization.
  • “Not done but perfecting” = Not Done. Next comes procrastination.
  • “Not done right” = Not Done. Next comes a redo, if the opportunity stands.

As team members and individuals, whenever we do tasks or assume responsibilities, we should remember in a pinch that:

  • “Done, imperfectly” is the best of the three. Reply to the client right away. Get the product to market. Make the sales call. Imperfectly.
  • Opportunities aren’t forever: If the client is compelled to look elsewhere, the product runs out of funding, or the lead goes cold, ‘perfect’ was too late.
  • “Done, imperfectly” is rare. Despite “perfecting”-ers” failing just as fast as  “not done right”-ers, in a pinch.

What do you need to get done, imperfectly, today?

70: 100 year beliefs

Ever thought, ‘If I knew the future, I could rock today”?

Yesterday we talked about intuition. Today we’re talking about beliefs.

From machine rights to literally sharing your thoughts with others, the future is sure to contain many “surely not” moments.

But what do you believe today that, in 100 years time, will seem totally ridiculous?

  • Your industry: What could it look like? By considering beliefs that may become ridiculous, we can consider how to push today’s actions toward the future.
  • Your team: What could it look like? By investing in skills and values that will still be valuable, we can consider how to develop a culture that stands the test of time.
  • Your world: What could it look like? By considering beliefs that will eventually seem ridiculous (e.g. “climate change isn’t a problem”) we can shape our contribution to the world today.

What do you believe? Future-pace it and see what happens.

69: More human: Intuition

Last month we touched on 3 things robots can’t do.

Let’s touch on the first: intuition.

Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without proof, evidence or conscious reasoning, or understanding how the knowledge was acquired.

This enables us to say:

  • “The future should look like this…” For instance, ‘no more slavery’, or ‘a phone for every human’. A vision for a destination that transcends transaction, instead focusing on an ideal.
  • Forget ‘trends’, we’re heading over here…” For instance, predicting a new market or emerging sector with little-to-no proof. The ability to zag when everyone else zigs.
  • “Forget data, this is what I think…” For instance, spotting a good hire or investment because it feels right.

Intuition behaves below consciousness, we experience it from our subconscious, away from focal awareness or critical-thought function (things AI will effectively simulate).

Aside from the eventually-autonomous parts of your work, how can you and your teammates bring more intuition to your work?

68: Knowing less and more

How much do you know?

Those who focus on what they know, know the least. The more you talk, the less listening–and learning–you get to do. The more someone enjoys the sound of their own voice, the less likely there’ll be wisdom in their words.

Those who focus on what they don’t know, know the most. Great minds ask great questions, talk less, and absorb the information in the room. When they do decide to speak, you know it’s worth hearing.

Teams thrive when members are more interested in learning from each other than convincing each other.

Which do you do prefer: talking, or listening?