If, like me, you are looking forward to 2014 and thinking about what you are going to do differently, you are probably writing a whole lot of lists right now. But it’s worth just stopping a moment to look at some of the ways you can change the way you work and live – and be more productive.
2014 is the year when you are going to focus on what you are really, really good at. As individuals and as companies, we are all guilty of trying to take on too much and wasting effort on things that just don’t come naturally. An expert on your team or an external expert will do these tasks in a fraction of the time that it will take you, and the tasks will probably be done better.
Spend time understanding the capabilities of your team and stop being a bottleneck. Put full trust in your team and they might just surprise you. And sure, outside consultants cost money, but if you look at the bigger picture you will save time and energy, leaving you free to concentrate on what you do best.
Passion gives us energy. Passion makes us focus on what is important. When we have passion in our day, we are creative, motivated and inspiring. Passion doesn’t just drive us; it drives the people around us.
Look at companies like Facebook, Google or Zappos, which are able to do incredible things by inspiring the daily lives of their team. How do we do this? Regular time-outs, preferably at the very beginning of each day, help us lift our eyes from the desk and look at where we are going and how we are getting there. When we look up, even just for a minute, we can see that even the most mundane tasks are stepping-stones to something greater.
Arrange your workspace to motivate yourself with favorite quotes, pictures of your family and your annual objectives. Spend more time with positive people and those who make you feel good. Work with your manager on assigning you projects you are particularly passionate about.
Too many companies start a new project by saying what they want, not asking why they need it. By working back from a problem, you might come up with an entirely different solution to the one you first thought.
For example, clients will approach an agency saying they want a brochure, a social media presence or a new product video. What they mean is that they want to engage customers, drive sales, increase awareness, build communities or improve customer service.
By asking the right questions initially, you might find that you focus on the problem differently and come up with creative solutions that are far more effective than your original idea. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – you might find that your resources are far more effectively channeled.
Generosity is a gift that pays for itself many times over. In hard economic times, the obvious impulse is to cut back, save costs and cut corners. But the most successful, most loved, and fastest-growing brands – think TOMS, Netflix, Southwest and Zappos – build a culture of generosity into their business model.
TOMS’ commitment to its one-for-one policy (donating a pair of shoes or eyeglasses for every one sold to a child in poverty) has won it some of the most loyal customers of any brand. Netflix’s incredible growth is due in part to its investment in free, high-quality original content for its subscribers. Southwest may be smaller than some of its competitors, but that doesn’t stop it from offering a free baggage service and customer service with a smile. And Zappos recognizes that customer service is what sets it apart, so Zappos employees will go to any lengths to keep customers happy.
Saying ‘thank you’, going out of your way for your clients, giving back to your community, refusing to skimp on quality and paying professionals to do the jobs that aren’t in your area of expertise (see Resolution #1) will make your team, your customers, your clients, your suppliers and your community appreciate you and feel appreciated themselves. And you never know, that generosity might find its way back to you.
I hope you find these resolutions helpful and have a successful 2014!