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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Getting Better- Dharmesh Shah on Linkedin


Advice is often much easier to give than to take. For example, I was at a meeting at HubSpot yesterday and we were talking about a particularly area of the business that is having some challenges. A plan was presented. Then, a question came up in the room: “What you're suggesting we do is not that different from what we've done in the past. Why do we think it's going to lead to a dramatically different outcome?” It was a good question.
This just doesn't just apply to businesses, it applies to individuals as well. When I’m facing a problem or challenge, one of the key questions is to ask: “Okay. So what do I plan to do differently so I can have a chance at a different outcome?”
The only way to overcome a problem is to do something differently because unless you do, tomorrow is just like today. (And who wants that?)
But there's an even better approach: Instead of waiting until you have to make a bad situation better, why not turn an “okay” situation into a great one by tackling a challenge head on?
Here are a number of ways you can make significant improvements by doing things differently:
1. Take the opposite approach.
If you’re struggling to reach a goal then clearly what you’re currently doing isn't working. Think about the overall result you want to achieve, and instead of continuing to tweak and refine your approach try tackling it from an entirely different direction. (For fun, see “Startup Advice From George Costanza”)
For example, if you need more sales and conventional advertising approaches aren’t working, try writing a blog or interacting on social media. If you are finding it hard to convince your colleagues on a radical new idea or project, try ditching the PowerPoint slides and writing a detailed document in long-form. If you want to lose weight but diets don’t work, decide you’ll train for and run a marathon. (You may see a heavy person run, but you’ll never see a heavy runner.)
Pick one goal you're struggling to achieve and try a completely different approach. While sometimes making small adjustments eventually pays off, occasionally you just need to blow things up and start fresh.
2. Eliminate one goal.
We love to set goals. So we often set too many goals, and it's impossible to do ten or even five things incredibly well.
Take a look at your list of goals and pick at least one that you will consciously set aside, at least for now. Don't feel like you’re giving something up. If you weren’t accomplishing your goals anyway, you’re really not losing anything.
Then put the time you were spending on that goal into achieving your highest priority goal.
We can't have it all, but we can have a lot, especially when we narrow our focus to achieving one or two of our most important goals.
3. Modify your routine.
Get up earlier. Or stay up later. Check in with key employees before you plop down at your desk. Eat at your desk. Eat with a different group every day. Shuffle the items on your daily to-do list. In short, shake up what you regularly do.
For example, at HubSpot a large part of the company goes through a random “seat shuffle” every three months. It reflects our credo that change is constant and definitely shakes up the status quo.
Pick one thing you do on a regular basis, preferably something you do for no better reason than that's the way you’ve always done it, and do it in a different way or at a different time.
Familiarity tends to breeds complacency, and complacency is a progress killer.
4. Add a new metric.
Other people measure your performance, but we all have ways we measure our own performance as well. Maybe you focus more on quality, or on the time it takes to complete a task, or on customer satisfaction, or….
Whatever method you use is surely effective, but constantly using only one or two measurements could cause you to miss opportunities to improve.
Say you’re in sales and you (understandably) focus on meeting your sales goals. But, for a week, try focusing less on how many customers you close and more on the quality of the conversations you have.
Measuring your performance in a different way requires you to look at what you do from a new perspective. Keep your current measurements, then pick a process and measure your performance in a different way for a period of time.
I promise you’ll find ways to do it even better.
5. Help a colleague.
Most people won’t ask for help. So don’t wait: Pick someone who is struggling and offer to help.
Yet don't simply say, "Is there some way I can help you?" Be specific. Offer to help with a specific function. Offer to take over a task for a few days so they can catch up on other work. Offer to pitch in on the spot and work together.
A generic offer is easy to brush aside, especially since most of us hate to admit when we need help. A specific offer shows not just that you want to help but also that you care.
When you help others succeed you automatically succeed too.
6. Help a superstar.
Compared to other employees the best performers don't tend to need help. So they rarely get it.
Ask if you can help a superstar perform a specific task. You’ll definitely learn something. At least a few of her skills, attitudes, and techniques will rub off on you.
7. Just help.
Few things feel better than helping someone in need. Take a quick look around; people less fortunate than you are everywhere. It takes very little time and effort to make a meaningful difference.
And not only will you make a difference in someone else’s life, you’ll also make a difference in yours. The better you feel about yourself, the more enthusiastic and motivated you will be.
We can all use more of that.
8. Adopt a habit.
Successful people are successful for a reason, and that reason is often due to the habits they create and maintain.
Take a close look at the people who are successful in your field: What do they consistently do? Then adopt one of their habits and make it your own.
Never reinvent a wheel when a great wheel already exists.
9. Embrace others as they "are".
The company you work for probably isn't going to change. The person you report to probably isn't going to change. Your suppliers, your vendors, your customers…. they aren't going to change.
Stop expecting them to. When you stop focusing on negatives you may start to notice positive qualities you missed. (No one is as terrible or as great as you assume.)
Pick one source of frustration and decide what you will do differently. You can’t change other people, but you can always change yourself – and in the process make things better for everyone.
11. Embrace who you “are”.
I would love to be as funny as him. Or be as smart as him. Or make an impact like him.
That’s not likely to happen.
And mostly I'm okay with that because I can always be a better version of me. I can learn to be funnier. I can keep trying to know more. I can always do more to make a bigger difference in the lives of our employees and my family and friends.
Think about the people you admire. Then, instead of focusing on their accomplishments, pick a few of their admirable qualities you want to emulate.
You can never be the people you admire, and the great thing is they can never be you. Embrace who you are and keep trying to be a better version of who you are.
That is all any of us can do.

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