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Excuse me for being obvious. If you ride a rocking horse long enough, you’ll end up creating a rut from repeating the same motion over and over. In other words, things that don’t change stay the same. And over time, inertia makes it more and more difficult to change.

Feel stuck (like you’re in a rut)? Are you ready to get out? First, you must accept two business truths.

Truth 1: Everything around us is always in motion. Tasks, phone calls, emails, texts, to do lists, etc. Then to compound the problem, as time goes by, things change. The business grows (or shrinks). People come and go. New customer demands appear. Markets oscillate. Vendors change their products, services and pricing. I heard someone say, “If things are going great for you, just wait.”

Truth 2: In order to get anything done we need people, processes, and procedures. An organization can’t effectively get things done without them.

We use Truth 2 to manage Truth 1. Right? So we establish processes and procedures, and then staff them with people. But then Truth 1 rears its ugly head and things change. So what’s the point of following Truth 2 if things are always in motion (Truth 1)?

I hear this argument often. And it often paralyzes leaders from leading. What’s the point of planning if every time you plan, things change?” Consider the example of doing something as simple as shooting a gun. Two choices:

  1. Shoot the gun, then run along with the bullet and guide it to its target (ready, fire, aim)
  2. Aim the gun, then shoot and let the gun and bullet do its work (ready, aim, fire)

How much energy is required between the two choices? Which pattern do you use? The more careful and clear we are with the target, and the more keep our eyes on it, the higher the probability of hitting it. We don’t have to worry about the bullet getting there.

Truth 3: If we are absolutely clear about our business targets, Truth 2 will happen. The people, processes, and procedures will automatically align themselves to an agreed upon outcome.

Your first job as the leader is to decide the target, and then convince everyone else to agree to it. Give everyone the opportunity of working together as a team. Remember, you hired smart, capable people. So let them be smart and capable.

Your second job as a leader is to keep everyone focused on the target. It’s a mathematical certainty that Truth 1 will occur. When it does, bring your team together, and together make course corrections. But keep everyone focused on the target. The target should never be in question.

This might sound overly simplistic. It is simple. But it’s not easy. It takes incredible discipline to maintain everyone’s focus on the target. And this really does work.

It’s time to get out of that blasted rut. You can do this. And so can your team…

Photo by blair yang on Unsplash